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BRT Planner Meeting With Opponents From Chevy Chase

by Aaron Kraut — May 23, 2013 at 10:05 am 227 5 Comments

Cyclist along northbound Wisconsin Avenue's "Green Mile" in Chevy ChaseLarry Cole, the lead planner on Montgomery County’s Bus Rapid Transit proposal, will come to Chevy Chase next week to discuss the system with some of its most vocal critics.

Residents of the Chevy Chase West neighborhood and nearby communities along Wisconsin Avenue’s “Green Mile” argue a dedicated lane going each way for the bus system would endanger kids walking to school and make it harder for them to get into and out of their neighborhoods.

At the Planning Board’s public hearing last week on its Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, five residents of Chevy Chase or Somerset said the buses, which some referred to as “high speed,” shouldn’t go south of the Bethesda Metro station. The South MD 355 Transitway is planned to connect the Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue corridor with the Friendship Heights Metro station.

“High speed transit buses result in deaths and expensive legal claims,” said Chevy Chase West resident Marie Park. Park said the system would also increase pedestrian accidents caused by regular vehicles.

“I’m not saying that all buses are bad, but this plan is bad because you’ve totally disregarded the concentration of schools on Wisconsin Avenue,” Park said.

She mentioned Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Somerset Elementary School and private schools such as the Concord Hill School, an early-education school for kids age 3 through third grade at 6050 Wisconsin Ave. The meeting with Cole will be held there at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28.

Residents said they also want more crosswalks and regular bus service before any BRT system is built.

“Any MD 355 BRT first phase should go only to the Bethesda Metro stop as its southernmost point,” said Chevy Chase West resident Elaine Akst. “An extension should be dependent on an extension of WMATA bus lines between D.C. and Maryland.”

Cole chimed in at that point during the hearing, explaining that a curb lane dedicated to buses could actually make turning on to Wisconsin Avenue easier because drivers would be able to take advantage of large gaps in BRT bus traffic.

“Stop it at the Bethesda Metro,” Chevy Chase West resident Elizabeth Ewing testified later. “Don’t interfere with what is working very well between that Metro stop and Friendship Heights.”

  • rorojo

    Of all the reasons not to have a BRT saying pedestrian safety is the main reason is disingenuous. They’ve had the last 100 years to raise a ruckus as more and more cars have been added to the roads and schools being built to demand crosswalks and other safety measures. In absence of BRT pedestrian safety will still be an issue. I see BRT, Purple Line, and Bikeshare as an opportunity/excuse to improve safety.

    I can only speculate what the real reason are for their opposition.

    I do think that WMATA buses that goes deep into DC should not all stop at Friendship Heights. At least some of the time continue up to Bethesda on CT and WI aves, like the Silver Spring S buses.

  • Guest

    BRT has been shown to increase pedestrian accidents because transit buses do not travel with the flow of traffic and transit bus drivers have limited visibility in seeing people enter the crosswalk. A quick search on the internet shows the litigation and the cost to cities in settling these accident claims. This particular corridor (355/Wisconsin Ave) already has a cleaner form of mass transit that protects young pedestrians and bikers on Wisonsin Avenue– it’s called METRO. BRT is not going to improve pedestrian safety in Bethesda- that’s disingenuous.

  • Leigh Byrnes

    I think if the BRT is indeed built, it should stop at the Bethesda Metro because once you get there, the other public transit is pretty rapid and thorough into DC.

  • guest


    “Of all the reasons not to have a BRT saying pedestrian safety is the main reason is disingenuous…I can only speculate what the real reason are for their opposition”
    If you bother to read the plan you will see that the plan is to widen lower 355 between Bethesda and Friendship Heights, remove the median and put a 2 way busway in the middle. This makes it much harder to cross because it’s wider and removes the refuge of the median. Many more accidents waiting to happen. Montgomery County already on pace for record year in ped deaths. No one else comes close.

    • rorojo

      The median was not designed be a “refuge” for jaywalkers dashing across the street to the dirt path next to the golf course. If creating safer ways to jaywalk is the solution to people wanting to cross the street then we have a deeper problem. If safety is the concern you should be asking for more crosswalks and traffic lights that stop traffic for pedestrians regardless of the width of the street, the presence of a median and the implementation of the BRT.


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