A transportation plan for the Interstate 270 corridor being developed in Montgomery County could include a rapid-service bus component that would stretch from Frederick to northern Virginia.
The I-270 Corridor Transit Plan is in its early phases, but one of the elements being considered is a bus rapid transit line that could run from Biggs Ford Road along U.S. 15 north of Frederick to Tysons Corner in Virginia.
The project would utilize new toll lanes along I-270, an element that got a boost Friday with the announcement that a revised proposal for the project to add toll lanes to I-270 would include a clarification to ensure that public buses will be allowed to use the lanes free of charge.
The study is still in a conceptual phase at this point, said Cherian Eapen, a traffic engineer with the city of Frederick who has attended meetings on the topic.
Planners would need to look at things such as where stations would be, and whether the buses would run in the median of I-270 or somewhere else, Eapen said.
Bus rapid transit, which transports riders on express routes with limited stops, is a great option for long-distance travel, Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer (D) said Friday. And the region needs such a system, he said, to help people get from Frederick to Montgomery County and northern Virginia.
“This is the kind of trip that it’s really meant for,” Riemer said.
A lot of Montgomery County workers live in Frederick County, he said, and companies need to know that their workers can get to the office through the region’s congestion.
According to 2018 numbers from the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, nearly 24 percent of Frederick County residents work in Montgomery County, with 3 percent working in Washington, D.C., and almost 6 percent in Virginia.
Riemer said the state should also be looking at adding more MARC rail service to Frederick, but a BRT route would be more affordable.
The I-270 Corridor Transit Plan will consider both short-term transit options and longer-term ideas, and help restart momentum for Montgomery’s Corridor Cities Transitway.
That project, a BRT route that would stretch from the Shady Grove Metro station to the Clarksburg area, was removed from the state’s transportation capital budget in 2019.
Work on the I-270 transit plan is in its early stages, Gwen Wright, planning director for the Montgomery County Planning Department, said in a statement Friday.
“This plan will be looking at many different options — from BRT to monorail to managed lanes and we are just at the beginning of the process for this plan,” Wright said. “We don’t have any data or recommendations to offer yet, but there will be more information coming on this work soon.”
Riemer said the Montgomery County Council wants to move fast, and is hoping the study will be finished in 2020.
“We need to get ahead of the game here,” he said.