July 22, 2021
Some may be surprised that I brokered a deal to fund transit with toll revenue from the managed lanes plan — and supported moving forward with that plan.
You shouldn’t be. First of all, I have said clearly and consistently: my position is I want 1. the project to remain the existing right of way and 2. to make transit a real component.
With the agreement from the state to fund transit with toll revenue, these goals will be met.
Let’s talk about transit funding. The resolution that the 5 Council members supported at the COG TPB, with approval/support from Transportation Secy Slater and MDOT, refers to a major transit line such as the CCT or BRT on 355 and says, “MDOT will work collaboratively with Montgomery County to develop plans for construction, final delivery, and operation, funded through ongoing toll revenue”
MDOT has also stated they will advance fund engineering on the project to take it to final stages of completion. That’s the near term money; the long term money is the toll revenue.
What project are we talking about? Either the decades long planned Corridor Cities Transitway, or a high level BRT line on Rockville Pike / 355. These are not small projects, these are big projects, well north of $500M, and we have no other prospect for funding them.
Using toll revenue — aka a carbon tax, aka congestion pricing — is a good way to pay for transit alternatives. Prior to this deal, the County and the State had no plan to pay for a transit alternative.
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July 21, 2021
Over the past two weeks, I have been working feverishly to save a major transportation project that the County has long supported — improving 270 and the American Legion Bridge — while securing a commitment from the state for a major transit project as part of that plan.
I’d like to tell you why.
You may know that I have used my time in office fighting to make our transportation options safer, more equitable, and greener. I have helped shepherd the Purple Line through numerous crises, and no Councilmember has done more to secure bike and pedestrian improvements Countywide.
Every year in the budget, I push for more buses, more bike lanes, and safer sidewalks. I have successfully fought to expand Metro service, lower speed limits, increase automated enforcement, and remove dubious highways from our plans.
I am also increasingly alarmed about our County’s sluggish economy and the shifting center of regional economic gravity to Northern Virginia. As that trend has accelerated, the harmful consequences to us of untenable delays on the American Legion Bridge have become greater.
The American Legion Bridge is now a barrier to economic activity between our jurisdictions which incentivizes companies to locate in Virginia rather than Maryland and thereby accelerates the regional shift South at our expense.
Fixing this problem can help retain some regional balance. Opposing a solution here doesn’t advance any important goals, it just moves growth to a different part of the region — Virginia.
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July 9, 2021
In the coming months, the Council is expected to finalize a vision document to guide the future growth of our community.
It is called “Thrive Montgomery 2050” and you may have heard something about it.
It is not a rezoning nor does it allow anyone to do anything with their property that they cannot do already. Instead, it is a broad vision with objectives and strategies that can be implemented with future community-driven plans.
Some opponents, including the County Executive, are calling on the Council to stop working on this initiative, despite the fact that it has been underway for nearly two years and we have received public testimony and input from hundreds of residents.
While I don’t support delay, I certainly think we can improve on the draft that we received and I am reading through the feedback I am receiving.
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May 13, 2021
Following is some information you may find useful.
1. Youth vaccination appointments available now
Vaccination appointments are available now (as in today) for 12-15 year olds with Pfizer doses. Schedule your appointment here: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COVID19/vaccine/#make-appointment
Or you may also search through the state website, https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine
2. Montgomery County to fully reopen by May 29
Based on our phased reopening plan, the County will almost certainly enter full opening, aligned with state policies, on May 29.
May 29 is the projected date after which 50% of the County will have achieved full immunity through vaccinations and our new daily cases are at relatively low levels.
Having said that, there is still COVID risk for those who are not vaccinated. Please get vaccinated.
3. County follows CDC guidance on masks
The County now follows CDC guidance for face coverings. People who are not yet vaccinated should continue wearing facial coverings. If you are fully vaccinated please refer to this guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html
4. Finally, I want to say that there is no question in my mind that in the Fall, MCPS can and must be open full-time, full-capacity. The Board of Education has indicated that their goal is for full reopening as well.
Better days are ahead.
May 10, 2021
Montgomery County can find success as a place where companies grow and thrive, providing jobs for our families and communities — but we have to be forward thinking and play the long game.
It is not about tax cuts for the wealthy and that tired anti-government agenda — it is about making smart decisions and savvy investments in our future.
That’s why I am so excited to share the news about an important partnership that the County is now backing to land a Federal Pandemic Prevention Center.
Some of the world’s top scientists and biotech leaders have come together through a regional economic development organization to propose a federal strategy to advance medical breakthroughs for dangerous pathogens — before they become pandemics.
This exciting idea has even won the philanthropic backing of the Gates Foundation.
For example: with funding, scientists could develop monoclonal antibody treatments for various coronaviruses that are known but not yet circulating among humans — and stockpile those recipes in case one of the coronovarises becomes a pandemic.
Montgomery County is the natural place to house this new center. With the NIH, FDA, and a powerful life sciences industry, we are already an epicenter of global pandemic response.
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