Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2019

President’s Message

By Sharon Canavan

At the February NFCCA meeting, we had really strong attendance; about 50 people came to hear about the concepts for further revisions to the current construction plan for the Route 29 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that are being studied by the Montgomery County Division of Transportation (MCDOT).  Although the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system on US 29 is already under construction and scheduled to be operational by 2020, this ongoing study is evaluating whether additional changes could further improve traffic flow between White Oak and Silver Spring.

Our speaker was John Thomas, the project manager for the study, who gave an overview of design challenges on Route 29 and potential changes that are being evaluated.  Among the concepts that the study is evaluating are:  (1) construction of a dedicated median lane for BRT buses; (2) creation of a preferential/managed lane for carpools and buses, including BRT; (3) spot improvements to benefit traffic flow, and (4) a hybrid of these ideas.  Additional revisions that could be recommended once the study is concluded are changes in traffic signal operations and installation of additional new traffic signals as well as traffic control changes, such as lane reassignment or turn restrictions.

Pretty soon we will have a better idea about which of these concepts will be recommended for further serious consideration.  Sometime this Spring, MCDOT will conduct a Public Workshop on the Draft Mobility Improvement Package to solicit additional input on the study’s recommendations.  After that public outreach, a conceptual design and cost analysis for mobility improvement recommendations will be developed this Summer.  Study recommendations will be finalized by Fall 2019.

Thomas emphasized that final review and approval for additional changes to the current BRT construction plan is in the hands of the Montgomery County Council and the State Highway Administration (SHA) before any of the recommendations can move to construction stage.  Thomas also underscored that further design changes and construction are not funded at this time.

Thomas concluded by stating that he welcomes public input at any point during this study process.  He passed out comment cards and encouraged residents to comment via email at john.thomas AT or by phone (240.777.7240).  If you would like to take a look at the PowerPoint slides from the February meeting or learn more about BRT construction planning, there is additional information posted on the website.

It might be hard for you to believe sometimes, but the NFCCA board is busy following other issues — besides BRT — that affect our community.  One topic we are keeping a close eye on is consideration of legislation by the County Council to loosen restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).  Examples of ADUs are a basement apartment, a separate unit above a garage, or a freestanding “grannie flat.” Proponents view removing restrictions against ADUs as a way to expand affordable housing, but opponents raise concerns about overcrowding, code enforcement, school over-enrollment, and limited street parking.  At our next meeting, we would like to hear what you think.

Also, the Montgomery County Public Schools Division of Capital Planning is conducting a study to recommend revisions to school boundaries in order to alleviate overcrowding in local elementary schools, including Forest Knolls, as well as Eastern and Silver Spring International Middle Schools.  Boundary changes, once approved, are expected to go into effect for the 2020–2021 school year.  (See the story in this issue.)

Many of you noticed the construction underway on Lockridge Drive.  MCDOT is replacing a storm drain and reworking the creek area below Lombardy to mitigate erosion.  Trees that were removed will be replaced.

Board members are also continuing our outreach to the Montgomery Parks and Planning agency.  We hope to work with staff there to attract pop-up events to our local park like last summer’s movie night and temporary skate board pump track installation.  You may also want to comment on the agency’s Dog Park Site Study.  One of the dog park sites under consideration is in nearby South Four Corners.  To comment go to

On a final note, some of our neighbors reached out to get answers from the park agency about the campaign to reduce the deer population in Northwest Branch.  Sharpshooters were working there in February and March — so come April it will be safe again to enjoy the park in the evening (subject, of course, to park rules on closing hours).

We will be discussing these neighborhood issues at the upcoming NFCCA meeting on April 10th — as usual, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Forest Knolls Elementary School.  At this meeting, we will also hear more from speakers about issues related to the installation of 5G small cell towers.

Lots going on, and we want to hear from you about these and other issues of concern.  So come join us at the April meeting.   ■

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