Friday, May 31, 2013

Advisory Board supports greater coordination of road projects

The following is text of a letter from the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board in support of Council Bill 2-13: Streets and Roads - Reconstruction - Coordination.

Dear Council President Navarro and Council:
The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board (WMCCAB) would like to take the opportunity to express our support for Councilman Leventhal’s proposed Bill 2-13 aimed at improving coordination of road reconstruction projects.  While we commend the efforts of the County Department of Transportation (DOT) and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) in coordinating project schedules to save time and money, we see great value in taking this level of coordination further.   We respectfully offer the following comments and suggested changes to the bill language. 
In particular, we suggest adding the County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to the list of agencies DOT must send the 5 year project schedule (Section 1(b) of the proposed legislation).  Given DEP’s central role in stormwater management, knowledge of upcoming projects would allow DEP to identify opportunities to implement road improvements that allow for stormwater infiltration.  Cities and counties are increasingly putting such green infrastructure in place, particularly when it can also be used to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety.  Upcoming road projects create the most cost effective opportunities to implement such dual benefit road improvements. 
Creating a mechanism to incorporate residential street resurfacing projects that fall below the threshold for incorporation into the Capital Improvements Program would also be helpful.  It would seem like a missed opportunity to not include such projects.  For example, on residential streets serving as key cut through routes for cyclists accessing the County’s trail network, resurfacing projects are an ideal time to add “shared lane” markings and other low cost safety enhancement techniques.
It is our understanding that the legislation would encourage or require DOT to put in place a database to facilitate this coordination.  We support this and efforts by Council staff to identify open source Geographic Information System software or another low cost alternative that would create a shared database to facilitate project coordination. 
We commend the efforts of County departments already working to coordinate road projects, but believe that more can be done to formalize and deepen the level of coordination.  This bill would help the County ensure we are get the most out of every public and private dollar spent on road related infrastructure.  While the systems put in place to facilitate such coordination should themselves be cost effective, opportunities to put new systems in place seem to be available. 
Thank you for this opportunity to provide our input as the Council considers this bill. 
Marc Korman, Chair