Council Panel Pushes To Keep Money for Metrorail Station Improvements

Council Panel Pushes To Keep Money for Metrorail Station Improvements

Derailing White Flint funding in construction budget would impair other projects, members say

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White Flint Metro station

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A Montgomery County Council committee wants funding for station improvements at the Forest Glen and White Flint Metrorail stations to remain a priority in the county’s construction-projects budget.

County Executive Marc Elrich last month recommended deferring $14.7 million from the White Flint and Forest Glen stations projects and pursuing funding from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the regional subway system. Elrich recommended delaying funding for Forest Glen by two years and deferring funding for White Flint beyond the six-year period that the Capital Improvements Program budget covers.

But council Transportation and Environment committee members Tom Hucker, Hans Riemer, Evan Glass and Andrew Friedson indicated that they would not accept the Elrich’s amendments to the CIP budget, which the council is reviewing.

“We need to be prepared to pay for this ourselves,” Riemer said.

One project, the Forest Glen Passageway, would construct a tunnel under Georgia Avenue that would extend to Holy Cross Hospital, near the road’s intersection with Interstate 495.

The White Flint station improvement would feature a northern entrance that would make the station more accessible from Executive Boulevard near Pike & Rose, a development of housing, shops and restaurants at Rockville Pike and Montrose Road.

Riemer said the station improvement was key to “changing the dynamic” at White Flint in order to spur additional economic development. He said there are plans for transit-oriented development in the corridor and the station improvements are essential.

“It’s in our interest to get those projects completed, because it’s gonna enhance their [WMATA] ridership and there will be greater density around those stations,” Reimer said.

“All of that infrastructure is gonna need to get built and we need to build it,” he said. “I don’t think we can pretend like we don’t care about those projects by withdrawing funding.”

Glass also said he wasn’t sure Metro would fund the station improvements if the county didn’t include funding to demonstrate its commitment.

Friedson, whose council district includes White Flint, said a lack of county funding for the White Flint entrance sends the wrong message to private sector companies that the county hopes to attract.

“Symbols do matter and actions do matter,” he said.

Hucker, the committee chairman, said Friday that the committee was united in its hope to keep the White Flint and Forest Glen projects on track.

“It surprised me that transportation was singled out for the greatest amount of cuts and other areas didn’t get cuts at all,” he said of Elrich’s proposed amendments to the long-term capital budget.

The full council is expected to vote later this spring on Elrich’s proposed transportation amendments to the CIP. Next week, the committee is hosting a town hall in Silver Spring on Metro service improvements.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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