GOCA supports Bus Rapid Transit — without additional taxes -- Gazette.Net


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The future of Bus Rapid Transit in Montgomery County is growing brighter as the Greater Olney Civic Association passed a resolution in support of it at its meeting July 10.

After a brief presentation by Councilman Marc B. Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park, who set the BRT in motion and served on the Transit Task Force, GOCA delegates unanimously approved a resolution that supports a rapid transit system in the county, but opposed any special tax district imposed on existing property owners to finance it.

Elrich said BRT is the least expensive way to provide mass transit in the county. The proposed 160-mile system is expected to cost $1.8 billion, with $600 million to be paid for by the state for the Corridor Cities Transitway, a BRT system operating along a 15-mile north-south corridor from the Shady Grove Metro Station to the COMSAT facility near Clarksburg.

A single-track route is proposed for the median of Georgia Avenue, spanning from Olney to the Wheaton Metro station. Buses would have priority for signal timing, providing express travel.

Although there has been some mention of property owners living within a half-mile of the BRT paying a special tax, Elrich said he thinks developers should bear the largest cost, and other funding could come from the county's Capital Improvements Program and bonds.

In other news, GOCA delegates also voted to contribute $1,000 to match the Norbeck Meadows Civic Association's contribution to name the playground at the Norbeck Meadows Neighborhood Park in memory of Ron Berger.

Berger, a founding member of GOCA and a dedicated and respected community leader, died of cancer in December. Berger's involvement in many Olney organizations spanned more than 30 years.

The Montgomery County Parks Foundation is requiring $2,000 to fund the commemorative dedication, to cover signage and potential lifetime expenses associated with it.

Following Berger's death, GOCA received more than $1,000 in donations in his memory.

NMCA President Arnold Gordon is spearheading the effort, and said plans for a public dedication ceremony would be announced as soon as they are finalized.

The remainder of the meeting featured roundtable discussions among representatives from local homeowner's association and civic associations. Information was shared on topics that included participation, crime prevention, landscaping, pool management, communication and social activities.

There will be no GOCA meeting in August. The next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Olney Community Room of the Re/Max Realty Center. For more information, visit www.goca.org.

thogan@gazette.net