Detailed Responses - County Council District 1
Do you support the Locally Preferred Alternative selected by Gov. O'Malley for the Purple Line, including an at-grade light rail line with a trail alongside it on the Georgetown Branch right of way between Bethesda and Silver Spring?
Roger Berliner (D) have been a supporter of the Purple Line and ran on that platform four years ago when I ran successfully for the County Council. I continue to be a supporter of the locally preferred alternative and have tried to work with all parties to see that the very best possible system is developed. If there are mitigation measures that can be taken to help maintain the character of the Trail and develop a successful transit system I want to see MTA embrace those measures.
Ilaya Hopkins (D) I strongly support transit and believe our current transit system needs better East-West connectivity. Our current major transit system – Metrorail – was designed to move people from homes in the suburbs to jobs in the city center. Over the past decades, work patterns have shifted to become suburb to suburb and we have not adjusted our transit systems accordingly.
To fill in this gap, I support a Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton, via Silver Spring and College Park. I am on-record supporting the Master Plan alignment and continue to support it. Given the state and county budget situation, along with the uncertainty of federal funding, the selected medium-investment light rail option, at a cost of $1.6 B, no longer appears affordable. The Maryland Transportation Administration explicitly noted in its alternatives analysis that limited availability of capital funds may require selecting a lower-cost investment, or implementing only a portion of the selected alternative.
MTA estimates the medium-investment bus rapid transit option can be implemented for approximately a third of the cost of the current PLA. I believe it is preferable to investigate this option in more depth and move forward with its implementation, rather than waiting for funds to be available for the full LRT option. By pushing for the high cost option now, I fear we may wind up with no Purple Line at all.
Incumbent voting record Jan. 27, 2009 vote to recommend at-grade light rail - Berliner voted yes.
Which is a higher priority: maintaining Ride-On Service or building the $80 million parking garage in Bethesda?
Roger Berliner (D) I was the champion of preserving Ride-On service on the County Council and successfully led the fight to save the Ride-On routes from the cuts proposed in both the mid-year savings plans and in the FY ’11 operating budget. I strongly believe that Ride- On is an essential service of our County government. It must be there for those who need the Ride-On bus for transit services and for those who choose it. We need to preserve the mass transit services we have in place and continually look for new opportunities. If we want to preserve our quality of life and ensure a sustainable future, we must not take any steps backwards in this arena. We must be forward thinking and make mass transit a top priority for Montgomery County.
Ilaya Hopkins (D) I evaluate potential projects both on their own merits and on the ability to fund both the capital and operating costs.Ride-On provides cost-effective services and furthers the county's overall development goals. The current Council allowed Ride-On to languish. Our bus depots have been full since 2004, preventing us from adding capacity or new routes and hampering basic maintenance. I find the number of broken fareboxes particularly concerning, since they undercut Ride-On's financial health. I want to improve Ride-On, not just maintain it. Even in this tough budget climate, I am confident steps can be made to do so.
I support greater use of performance parking, smart parking systems and lot sharing to wring better use out of our existing parking facilities. I will insist that in the future these options be fully studied before we turn to the construction of new parking space. However, the Lot 31 project has reached a stage where modifying it would significantly disrupt numerous projects in the Bethesda area.
Incumbent voting record Feb. 9, 2010 vote to preserve Ride-On service, using cable TV funds to cancel proposed bus cuts - Berliner voted yes.
Do you approve or disapprove of County traffic engineers' current policy of giving equal priority on the road to autos that carry a few people and buses that carry many people?
Roger Berliner (D) I am a strong proponent of bus priority lanes and signalization - we must make progress in this area and it should be a policy priority for our transportation planners. I was an early and strong supporter of BRT for the County. I believe this system holds great promise for moving people from their cars and onto a fast and serviceable transit system. I have championed the idea of establishing a Sustainable Transportation Corridor along the Rockville Pike. The changes we will be making in the White Flint plan, at Navy Medical and in Bethesda and Friendship Heights need to be looked at as one vibrant transit corridor that needs mass transit along with bikeways and good walkways. It will not be easy to acquire all the right-of-way necessary in some cases, but we must not let that get in the way. Wherever lanes can be used now for priority lanes, we should implement the latest methods and technologies.
Ilaya Hopkins (D) I have met with and had constructive conversations with county employees in the Department of Transportation. They will follow the guidance set by the Council, and it is therefore incumbent on the Council to set proper guidelines. Based on my up-close work with this issue during the BRAC process, I believe a people-per-hour measure for forecasting better serves our community. The Council has failed to make this change over the past four years. As a councilmember, I will.
Should any money be spent on increasing highway capacity associated with the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan before a light rail Corridor Cities Transitway from Shady Grove to Clarksburg is fully funded for construction?
Roger Berliner (D) The approved Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan does not prescribe when highway capacity should be expanded in the staging plan. Additionally, the plan acknowledges that the situation may change over time and that the highway capacity projects such as the grade-separated interchanges may not be needed at all. Given this fact and the widely-held understanding that the Great Seneca plan is dependent on the full funding of the CCT, I would be very hesitant to approve any funding for highway capacity projects prior to CCT funding.
Ilaya Hopkins (D) The entire Science City plan hinges on the Corridor Cities Transitway. The approved plan correctly requires at least half of the CCT to be built before the second stage of development can proceed. I support this type of focused, transit-first development which reduces the traffic impact of increased density. If properly implemented, there will be less need for resources to be spent on highway capacity.
Should approval of Transit-Oriented Development near Metro stations be tied to the movement of cars?
Roger Berliner (D) The approved White Flint Sector Plan is the best example of transit-oriented development in Montgomery County to date. In the case of this plan, aggressive mode share goals were set and a strong staging plan was created. The Council decided unanimously that given these factors and the financing district that will be created for White Flint, it was reasonable to exempt the plan from LATR and PAMR. These tests are certainly not perfect. We can and should be able to develop measures that promote sustainable development and discourage sprawl. The County Executive has sent an alternative test for the Council to consider. I look forward to reviewing his proposal when it comes to the full Council.
Ilaya Hopkins (D) No. Properly done transit-oriented development creates urban spaces that are transit and pedestrian friendly, emphasizing movement of people rather than cars. I believe we must take to heart the lessons of the past half-century – focusing solely on cars destroys our urban fabric and makes our communities less, not more, livable.