Officials Tout Montgomery County Stimulus Spending, Look to Future
Recovery Act yielded $6.7 million to repave more than 43 miles of seven county roads.
Elected officials on Monday praised the completion of nearly 43 miles of newly repaved commuter routes in Montgomery County thanks to $6.7 million in federal stimulus aid, and said more aid is needed.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) of Baltimore congratulated County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) for the county’s completion of the projects, which employed 50 people.
“I’m so pleased at what Ike Leggett has done because as we bring federal money to our community, dollars are only as good if they’re well-spent in a well-focused way to solve local problems,” Mikulski said during a news conference just off the fresh pavement of Shady Grove Road at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville on Monday.
The upgraded roads are:
- More than 10 miles of Shady Grove Road from Interstate 270 to Darnestown Road. Bike and acceleration lanes and ADA-compliant ramps on sidewalks also were added.
- Nearly 10 miles of Barnesville Road from Mt. Ephraim Road to MD Route 117, including new traffic barriers and thermoplastic pavement markings.
- About four-and-a-half miles of Randolph Road from east of Nebel Street to Rock Creek Bridge, including replacing sidewalk and ADA-compliant ramps and installing thermoplastic pavement markings with track symbols near railroad tracks.
- Nearly four miles of Forest Glen Road from MD Route 97 to Brunett Avenue, including installing standard concrete curb and gutters, replacing the sidewalk and adding ADA-compliant ramps. Bike lanes and a pedestrian crossing at the Sligo Creek intersection were added and a ditch along the roadway was removed.
- More than 10 miles of Old Columbia Pike from MD Route 198 to the U.S. Route 29 (Columbia Pike) on-ramp, including replacing the sidewalk, adding ADA-compliant ramps and roadside traffic barriers and improving storm water drainage. The project also improved access to Paint Branch High School.
- Nearly five miles of Travilah Road from Dufief Road to River Road, including new traffic barriers, thermoplastic pavement markings and improved operating conditions.
- Nearly four miles of Wightman Road from Brink Road to Goshen Road, including a realigned concrete median at Montgomery Village Avenue, a repaired shoulder at the Great Seneca Park entrance near Brink Road and new traffic barriers.
Many, including economists, have debated the numbers and success of the legislation, Ezra Kline noted last summer in a post on his “Wonkblog” on The Washington Post.
The paving projects were paid for as part of nearly $168 million in federal stimulus aid that the county received. That included more than $15 million in aid for a variety of transportation upgrades, from repaving to street lighting to new Ride On bus purchases to new transit dispatch system software.
“We need to double down on these kind of investments to improve our quality of life,” said Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac.
Last fall, the county opened an extension that brings Watkins Mill Road to the edge of both sides of I-270. An interchange to connect the road to I-270 and funding for the Corridor Cities Transitway are the top priorities for the upcounty, said Del. Charles E. Barkley (D-Dist. 39) of Germantown.
“The Science City is being developed not far from here,” Barkley said. “But without money for the CCT, that’s never going to happen.”
“We passed that to continue the existing funding for transportation,” said U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. “But beyond that we’ve got to have a major investment in this country in our infrastructure.”
President Obama proposed a $50 billion infrastructure package in September 2010 that included money for roads, rail and airports and would create an “Infrastructure Bank” to pool private, state and local funding for needed projects.
The legislation met a Senate filibuster and never received a vote in the House of Representatives.
“We agree with you that we need to go to the next level [on infrastructure funding],” Van Hollen told county and state officials. “We hope that we’ll get more cooperation from some of our colleagues in that effort.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers grades U.S. infrastructure a “D,” Van Hollen (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington said.
“We could do a lot better on that if the federal government would pass the president’s bill,” he said.