Rice says debt, school capacity problems and Purple Line influencing County CIP

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GAITHERSBURG – County residents say they are concerned about capital budget projects, such as the aging Poolesville High School never being refreshed and the security of temporary classrooms near elementary schools.

On Monday, County Council Education Committee chairperson Craig Rice (District 2) told residents that the Purple Line – the light-rail service to connect Montgomery and Prince George’s counties—as well as the Council’s new spending affordability guidelines and County debt are chipping away at the money County will permit to be spent on school building costs and capital projects for schools in the FY 2019-2024 Capital Improvements Plan.


Former Sentinel reporter makes history

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With election win, Danica Roem becomes first openly transgender legislator to serve anywhere in the U.S.

Danica Roem photoDanica Roem after winning three MDDC awards for the Sentinel.                                        FILE PHOTO  The experience and knowledge Virginia Delegate-Elect (and former Montgomery County Sentinel News Editor) Danica Roem (D) gained while covering local politics in Montgomery County proved invaluable to her winning effort in Tuesday’s election, Roem told the Sentinel during an interview the morning after her historic victory, which will make her the first openly transgender individual to serve in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

“When I was news editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel, I was part of a team that did a five-part series on water infrastructure, and I talked a lot about that series,” Roem said. “I talked about water infrastructure a lot on this campaign.”

Such issues might be boring – “the kind of stuff that makes reporters zone out” – but are extremely important, she said. “You’ve gotta take care of your infrastructure.”


Chevy Chase Council caught in the middle

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Tension was noticeably thick as over a dozen residents of the Town of Chevy Chase spoke to the Town Council about their displeasure with the tactics and trustworthiness of Purple Line Transit Partners during a meeting at the Jane E. Lawton Community Center last Monday night.

“I would like the Council to formally put on record a request to fire the Purple Line Transit Partners, the private contractor behind the ridiculously short notice people had that the trail was going to be closed four to five years” said Deborah Vollmer during the public comments portion of the agenda. “They are thuggish; they’re incompetent.  And the way they have entered into this project we can only ask what more outrages are we going to face? What more corners are they going to cut?”

On Aug. 29, the Maryland Transit Administration announced on its Purple Line website that it would close the approximately 3.5-mile trail to begin construction on the rail system. The light-rail line will travel between Silver Spring and Bethesda on the trail right-of-way.


Hogan offers expansion plans and toll roads to ease traffic congestion in Capital corridor

  • Published in News

GAITHERSBURG – Gov. Larry Hogan announced three separate projects totaling $9 billion to widen Interstate Highway 270, Interstate Highway 495 and State Route 295 Sept. 21.

Hogan, along with Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn, announced officials in his administration began the process of soliciting potential companies with which to form a public-private partnership (P3) to add four toll lanes each to Interstate Highway 270, to Interstate Highway 495 and to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

“The daily backups on the Capital Beltway, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway have made the Baltimore-Washington corridor one of the most congested regions in the nation,” Hogan said. “This problem has been marring the quality of life of Maryland citizens for decades. Today we are finally going to do something about it.”


Delaney tries to tackle crumbling infrastructure


220px John Delaney 113th Congress official photoWhen it comes to corporate tax breaks one ordinarily thinks Republican and one would ordinarily be correct in doing so.
However, what if the corporate tax break was not part of the usual “trickle-down economics” substanceless rhetoric but was actually applied directly to a specific undertaking that clearly benefited a particular community or communities?
That brings us to Democrat Congressman John Delaney of Maryland's 6th Congressional District.


Metro finally finishes SafeTrack on Red Line

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metro logoROCKVILLE – The project manager of SafeTrack, Metro’s year-long program of repairing the aging rail system, said the program has fixed the worst parts of the system but Metro has more work to do.

Laura Mason, SafeTrack project manager, used a comparison from Board Chairman D.C. Council member Jack Evans and described the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to a sick patient.

“I think we’ve stabilized the system, so I think how our chairman of the board (Evans) has put it is, the patient was very, very sick,” Mason said at Rockville Station June 21. “We’ve done surgery – we’ve repaired sections, we still have a long ways to go. We still need to do physical therapy, we need to eat well, and maintain our health, so we’ve taken care of the worst sixteen areas.”


Federal infrastructure and us

White House Front TwilightCongressman John Sarbanes, Senator Chris Van Hollen and a host of other federal elected officials say they have a bone to pick with President Donald Trump.
Van Hollen, along with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (talk about your strange bedfellows) are among those urging the Trump administration not to return two diplomatic compounds in the U.S. to Russian control. Intelligence reports indicate the two compounds – one in Maryland and one in New York – were used by the Russian government for intelligence-related purposes.
“The properties were seized because 17 U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia used covert cyberattacks, espionage and harmful propaganda to try and undermine our democracy,” Van Hollen and Graham said in a letter to the president.
The senators say returning the compounds to the Russians is unjustifiable.
“It would both make it easier for the Kremlin to continue its intelligence operations in our own backyard and make it clear that they can avoid consequences for their actions,” the senators said in the letter.


Congressional delegation looks for Trump common ground

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ROCKVILLE – Members of Montgomery County’s congressional delegation said they have some common ground where they believe they can work with the President-elect Donald Trump.

Senator-elect Chris Van Hollen (D) said he could work with Trump on a possible national infrastructure bill.

“That’s one of the issues he talked about, not only during the campaign, it was the one issue mentioned the evening he got the electoral votes necessary to be president,” Van Hollen said. “He came out on stage and mentioned that issue specifically and it’s one that I have done a lot of work on trying to promote. It would be great if we could actually make some progress on that.”


County passes new subdivision staging policy

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ROCKVILLE – Saying they want to steward smart development and raise revenues for schools and infrastructure, the County Council voted 8-1 to approve the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) and voted unanimously for Development Impact Taxes.

The 2016-2020 SSP is the County’s policy of managing growth and development. The new SSP will encourage growth along transportation hubs by offering tax breaks to developers who develop near Metro stops. The development impact taxes, will tax developers to fund schools and roads needed to accommodate further development.

The goal of the SSP is to encourage development around major transit hubs to cut down on traffic and encourage resident to take public transportation.

“The goal is not to encourage sprawl development, but to continue to focus the growth in our smart growth areas, area that are served by transit,” said Council member George Leventhal (D-At large).


County Council weighs in on WSSC infrastructure

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With 1,800 breaks a year on average in the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's (WSSC) infrastructure system, members of the Montgomery County Council said there needs to be more investment in the utility’s infrastructure.

WSSC’s water mains and pipes are often susceptible to breaks. About 25 percent of WSSC’s water mains are 50 years are older.

To keep sediment and other containments out of the water mains, WSSC pumps water at a high pressure.

“I kind of look at it as the Metro of water,” said Council member Marc Elrich (D-At large).

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