ACT Slams Proposal to Delete Bethesda Metro Entrance from County Budget
Press release issued January 17, 2012
The Action Committee for Transit, a 500-member organization that represents Montgomery County transit riders, denounced today's proposal to delete a long-awaited new entrance to the Bethesda Metro station from county's 6-year capital budget. The new entrance, with five high-speed elevators, will give Bethesda commuters a badly needed alternative to increasingly unreliable escalators that are scheduled for replacement in two years. It will also connect the Red Line to the future Purple Line.
A second entrance to the Bethesda Metro was planned as long ago as 1974, and in 2008 the County Council appropriated $5 million for design. An additional $50 million, the estimated cost of construction, was added to the county's six-year Capital Improvement Program in 2009. However, foot-dragging by the County Dept. of Transportation has delayed completion of the design, and today's county budget proposal would eliminate construction funding entirely. ACT called on the County Council to reject the proposed cut.
“This proposal is bad for Bethesda Metro riders and to everyone who will ride the Purple Line,” said ACT president Tina Slater. “If the county's Dept. of Transportation was doing its job, the new entrance would already be under construction and it would be finished in time for the replacement of the existing escalators in 2014. Instead, they have intentionally delayed the project and added insult to injury by offering the absurd excuse that it will take seven years just to design the new Metro entrance.”
Slater pointed out that this continues a pattern of behavior by MCDOT, which consistently seeks to minimize the spending of county money on transit, walking, and bicycles while it pursues its road-building ambitions:
- It tried to build a highway underpass with money appropriated for pedestrian access from Bethesda Naval Hospital to the Medical Center Metro station.
- It opposed the rebuilding of Rockville Pike as a European-style boulevard under the White Flint master plan, arguing that the main function of Rockville Pike is to carry high speed traffic to the District of Columbia.
- It stalled building the Metropolitan Branch Trail through Silver Spring.
- The Silver Spring Transit Center, originally planned as an architectural statement that would “celebrate transit,” was downgraded into an exposed bus deck.
“Now,” Slater commented, “we learn that the Silver Spring Transit Center, already a year late, will be delayed more because it wasn't built the way it should have been. Montgomery County's transit riders keep getting the short end of the stick. This has to stop.”