October 19, 2012Edgar Gonzales, Deputy Director for Transportation PolicyMontgomery County Department of Transportation101 Monroe StreetRockville, MD 20850VIA ELECTRONIC MAILRE: Metropolitan Branch Trail Design & CompletionDeputy Director Gonzalez:First, thank you for the opportunity to come together with representatives of MCDOT, the CountyExecutive, the Council, and MPI to work toward tangible progress on the completion of the MetropolitanBranch Trail. WABA and the bicycling community are gratified to hear that the County Executive andCounty Council have provided direction to move forward on the trail, and that MCDOT intends to followthe alignment as included in the master plan.We look forward to a future Met Branch Trail that will provide a safe and convenient transportationcorridor for bicyclists, as well as a recreational amenity to be paired with the offerings at the historictrain station to create a more visible and accessible destination for those seeking to enjoy its historiccharacter. We know from numerous examples throughout the country that multi-use trails and historictrain stations are truly complementary amenities and uses.As MPI mentions in its letter to you, several issues remain unresolved. As our interest is solely on the
trail’s quality as a safe means of transportation and recreation for the bicycling community I do notaddress the issues related to Progress Place or to MPI’s organizational
interest in parking spaces, itsoperating budget request, or its real estate transactions.However, it is of critical importance that MCDOT and the County not compromise away the attributesthat will make this trail succeed in an effort to appease other interests. Fundamentally, this project iswithin the portfolio of MDCOT because it seeks to confront a transportation need, and the design mustprimarily address that need. While reasonable and considered adjustments can be made in design toaccommodate legitimate concerns of impacts to the historical character of the area, the ability of theproject to meet its purpose cannot be compromised.In the past, there has been confusion when preliminary concepts have been treated as design optionswithout a fu
ll vetting. I hope to avoid that here, and to avoid having MCDOT’s willingness to considerthe full scope of stakeholder input as a substitute for careful design protective of the trail’stransportation purpose and its user’s safety.Recognizing MPI’s interest in hosting events within the rear platform and canopy area, WABA remains
open to a solution that allows for detouring around that space during such events. However, that
detour cannot be simply to tell bicyclists: “Dismount and walk around the building.” Any detour that
would be sufficient to allow for closure of the trail should be designed to allow for safe through-biking.