Should the Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) route planned for Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike travel through Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Friendship Heights?
The Montgomery County Planning Department's Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan to create about 80 miles of BRT routes in the county is still in the early stages, but one of the questions under debate is whether rapid transit buses on Wisconsin Avenue should go through Chevy Chase and Friendship Heights on Wisconsin Avenue. (Northward, the BRT system for Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike is planned to end near Frederick County, according to the Transit Corridor Network Map.)
Many Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents say that BRT should not run through Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Friendship Heights. Attendees at a public meeting about the issue last spring said that rapid transit buses running through Chevy Chase on Wisconsin Avenue would be unsafe for pedestrians and also unnecessary, as the buses would run along the same route as the Red Line.
County council staff also say that continuing the BRT system south of the Bethesda Metrorail station to the DC line is unnecessary, Bethesda Now reported last week. Montgomery County Council Deputy Administrator Glen Orlin said in a memo that there is no reason to duplicate the Red Line from Bethesda to Friendship Heights, unless DC were to establish a rapid bus transit line from Friendship Heights to Georgetown (a route with—for the most part—no Metrorail service).
But there are supporters of running BRT straight through to the Maryland-DC line.
"Stopping the route at Bethesda, instead of connecting it an additional 1.5 miles to the DC border, could shortchange the area and the county in several ways, supporters said," according to a news release from the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
"With traffic congestion rising and the possibility of local Metro stations shut down for extensive repairs, residents in our area are seeking more options for getting north to Bethesda and beyond, or to Friendship Heights and DC," Chevy Chase resident Ronit Dancis said in a statement. "BRT would be a great new option for our neighborhoods."
"BRT complements and supplements the Red Line from Rockville to Bethesda, and it does the exact same thing between Bethesda and Friendship Heights," Gianne Italiano, president and CEO of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
"There are hundreds of residents, businesses and employees, along with customers and patients, that would utilize this BRT line to access stores, restaurants, businesses and health care providers in Friendship Heights," Italiano added.
"...Supporters from the Friendship Heights area want the line to extend south [to the DC line] and bring more transit options for their area," the Coalition for Smarter Growth's news release added. Supporters include the Chevy Chase Land Company and JBG (both property owners in Friendship Heights), the Friendship Heights Transportation Management District Advisory Committee, the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce and Ward 3 Vision in DC, the news release added.
"Cutting short this key route would sever an important transit connection between Montgomery County and DC, putting more cars on the road and [making] both Bethesda and Friendship Heights less competitive locations for business," Kelly Blynn of the Coalition for Smarter Growth said in a statement.
What do you think? Should the BRT system continue south on Wisconsin Avenue, past Bethesda and to the DC line, or not? Should there be a BRT system in the county? Tell us in the comments.