Monday, April 15, 2019

Hogan, Montgomery County Council sell out East MoCo commuters for developer sugar daddies

The Maryland State Highway Administration continues its developer appeasement program with the reduction of speed limits along Georgia Avenue in Olney, Glenmont and Aspen Hill. Reducing speeds on congested commuter routes began with the Dukes of Hazzard-style replacement of 45 MPH speed limit signs on River Road with 35 MPH under the cover of darkness one night in Bethesda. Like Georgia beyond Randolph Road, River was engineered for speeds between 50 and 55 MPH, so 45 MPH was already artificially low.

SHA was famously known for decades as an agency that put engineering best practices and the greater public good ahead of the desires of a few to reduce speed limits, and place other similar obstacles to inflict pain on commuters. So why is SHA suddenly becoming a politics-first, best practices-last agency under Gov. Larry Hogan?

Hogan, a real estate developer, seems to know where his best interests lie. In this case, it is in teaming up with the Montgomery County Council and their developer sugar daddies. After all, it's the Council who demanded speeds as low as 25 MPH on major commuter routes. The move is part of the MoCo cartel's secret plan to redevelop the single-family home properties along 45 MPH state highways into mixed-use urban areas.

In addition, the drastic speed changes are part of a parallel plan to raise more funds for the cartel through speeding tickets and speed cameras. SHA violated its own procedures by not posting the required signs to notify drivers of the speed limit change on River Road. Police began ticketing drivers immediately in the hours after the illegal speed change.

After the Suburban News Network, which publishes East MoCo, reported the SHA violation, signs were quickly rushed out to River Road - but only briefly. Along with the fact that the artificially low 35 and 25 MPH speed limits will make it challenging to comply with the new speed restrictions, massive paydays are guaranteed for the County government via tickets.

In Bethesda, developers are rubbing their hands together with plans to redevelop several golf courses, churches, an SHA depot and a garden center into mixed-use, high-density development. Along with another secret plan to extend the Purple Line to Westbard, the speed limit changes are getting drivers ready for slower urban speeds.
Hans Riemer has a plan to bulldoze
affordable neighborhoods in Aspen Hill,
Glenmont and Wheaton
The same is true for Aspen Hill, Bel Pre and Glenmont. Councilmember Hans Riemer's proposal to allow mixed-use development anywhere, including currently SFH suburban neighborhoods like Glenmont and Aspen Hill, will result in massive teardown waves. In their place along Georgia north of downtown Silver Spring, and along River Road, will rise urban-style high-density development. Along with the apartment buildings, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes and Section 8 boarding houses Riemer's new zoning would allow in SFH neighborhoods, crime, school overcrowding and traffic will only increase.

But that traffic will be moving slower than ever.

It's ironic that Olney residents may feel the most pain from the Georgia speed limit changes. After all, the BRT plan will demolish hundreds of homes and businesses between Olney and Silver Spring when the County brings it back. But the same Hogan and Council who are making Olney residents' exhausting commutes even longer are the same Hogan and Council who continue to block construction of the Georgia-Norbeck interchange.

No wonder Hogan waited until after his reelection to direct these changes. Will his development company be among those to propose projects along these roads after he leaves office? We know the Council's sugar daddies already have plans for both.

Nothing will change for long-suffering auto commuters, the vast majority of MoCo residents, until those drivers take their anger to the ballot box. Until then, expect to remain casualties of the MoCo cartel's War on Cars.


  1. As a resident of Georgia Avenue, I applaud these changes.

  2. Because of the horrible mid-century design of Georgia Avenue, drivers never obeyed the laws anyway. Lowering to 25 just means that they are likely going closer to the original 35 mph anyway. Now they just need to do a bit of redesign to show drivers that they are entering a dense area with pedestrians. Try crossing at a crosswalk along Georgia in Wheaton - 99 out of 100 drivers will NOT stop even though it's the law.

  3. Slowing traffic on the major corridors may make BRT appealing.

  4. It's a safety issue!

  5. Dyer’s War On Pedestrians continues.

  6. Wilson Lane in Bethesda is also on the list for a speed limit reduction this year. It's been 30mph for years. Does it really need to go lower?

    Now that River Road is 35mph, the flashing overhead sign as you approach Westbard Ave from Potomac, saying "Reduced Speed Ahead 35mph" is no longer accurate. I wrote MD SHA about it a few months ago and they agreed it's inaccurate and said they will eventually get it removed or changed.