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ACT Opposes Mid-County Highway Extended

Testimony to Planning Board, Nov. 21, 2013

As President of Action Committee for Transit, I appreciate the opportunity to testify and offer these comments on the M-83 study:

1. We agree with the staff report that MCDOT should do a thorough study of a transit option for M-83. The Council appears close to adopting a Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. Putting BRT service on 355 and extending it all the way to Clarksburg is an option that must be studied in detail. (Note also that the 355 BRT corridor would have the second-highest daily ridership of the 10 proposed transit corridors and therefore is likely to be among the earliest implemented.)

2. Given tight budget resources, we should think carefully about allocating one-third of a billion dollars to a new highway, when those same funds might be invested in transit that makes use of existing roadways. Building new roads generates new traffic and begets sprawl development, which requires further investment in expensive infrastructure --- it is a vicious cycle. If instead we build the transit that is in our plans (e.g., BRT and the CCT), we'll give people the option to live with fewer cars, to use transit and to walk and bike within new Town Centers.

3. While Millennials and Boomers differ in many ways, on this topic we might view them as a "pair of bookends." Millennials want to live near transit (the percentage of young people with automobile licenses has plunged). As for aging Boomers, we're beginning to contemplate the day when we won't be driving anymore. So for both these generations, please give strong consideration to building more transit now. Roadways alone will never be able to support the area's travel needs — do we really want to excavate parkland to build a new highway, thereby attracting even more cars, from even farther out? If we build it, they will come.

Action Committee for Transit urges the County to vigorously pursue a robust transit alternative to M-83.