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Category: Transportation Page 1 of 15

Addressing Veo Parking Concerns Leads to Dramatic Drop in Violations and Timely Issue Resolutions

The City Council will discuss VeoRide micromobility operations at next week’s meeting.

In 2019, the City teamed up with Veo to bring micromobility (like bikes and scooters) to College Park residents. They started with a one-year trial approved by the Council through Resolution 19-R-12. This trial got extended because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the City, the University of Maryland, and the Town of University Park, all part of this collaboration, decided to keep it going until 2022. After tweaking the trial, the three parties agreed to a Mobility Share Agreement on June 8, 2022, which lasts for three years

The pilot program and Mobility Share Agreement (MSA) have clear rules about where to park, how to help residents, and how quickly to solve reported problems. Since the City joined the MSA in June, people like residents, staff, and Council members have shared problems with handling wrongly parked vehicles on time. There have also been challenges with making sure the forced parking system works as intended, stopping vehicles from parking where they shouldn’t, like in front of houses or blocking sidewalks. Because of these issues, City staff got a lot of comments and concerns. To understand the problem better, they organized a one-on-one meeting with Veo, the micromobility partner.

In short, it turned out that Veo didn’t use the forced parking system as the contract required. This happened because of a misunderstanding caused by changes in Veo’s staff during the negotiations with the City. Once the confusion was fixed, Veo made sure the forced parking was working just a few days later. Since then, City staff have seen a big drop in parking problems reported by residents and by themselves. Before the fix, in an 8-day period in October, there were 26 parking issues, resulting in a fine of $910 to Veo. But after the forced parking was put in place, there have been no fines, and any reported problems are fixed quickly, within 2 hours, as the contract says.

Fixing this problem shows that Veo is a trustworthy partner with the City, dedicated to providing more transportation choices for our residents. This helps more people enjoy all the great things the City has to offer. Also, the City staff is currently working on setting up more Veo parking spots, as approved by the Council in August 2023.

Council to Expedite for design plans for bicycle lanes on River Road

The Council will consider ratifying the Transit Within Reach Grant Application to support 30% preliminary design and engineering to enhance bicycle infrastructure along River Road. Due to Purple Line traffic, the Planning Department will fast-track the River Road Protected Bike Lanes Project. It covers 0.8 miles from College Park to Riverdale Park, creating protected bike lanes. Key stakeholders include MWCOG, College Park, Riverdale Park, the University of Maryland, and MDOT SHA. This marks a significant advancement in the Discovery District’s plans, moving to the 30% preliminary design phase, expected to take 8-10 months. Ratifying the grant application should secure a letter of support for submission.

Metro begins rollout of new, higher faregates to stop fare evasion

Metro has begun installing new higher, stronger faregates at Fort Totten Station as part of a systemwide rollout. The design improves upon the original prototype door following months of testing and modifications. The new doors are now 55-inches tall, twice as strong, and more resilient.

The installation at Fort Totten is expected to be completed overnight, followed by Pentagon City. The faregate modifications will be installed in phases with plans to retrofit faregates throughout the system over the next year. The first 10 stations are expected to be completed by early fall.

“Over the past several months, our team has been testing different prototypes to get to this final design. We have already seen a reduction in fare evasion and expect the higher gates will be more of a deterrent,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Randy Clarke. “The bottom line is fare evasion is not okay, and we will continue our efforts to ensure everyone is respecting the community’s system and each other.”

The new design includes an L-shape door panel that extends over the faregate to minimize gaps between the openings. The increase in barrier height from the original 28 to 48-inch prototype to 55 inches will also make it more difficult to jump over faregates. The new height is taller than a hockey net or nearly half the height of a standard basketball hoop.

The swing doors are made of polycarbonate, which is 200 times stronger than glass, lighter in weight, and more durable. The final design also includes more robust hinges and a more powerful motor to strengthen the door. As stations are retrofitted with the new barriers, Metro is also raising the height of fencing and emergency gates. However, if there’s a need for gate repair Dallas, contact an expert immediately. Automated sliding gate systems may also be installed or repaired by professional specialists.

Metro will install a single door panel for all regular faregates, and double door panels at the wider gates for accessibility and wheelchairs. Following Fort Totten and Pentagon City, the first phase of new faregates will be installed at Bethesda, Mt Vernon Sq, Addison Rd, Congress Heights, Wheaton, Federal Center SW, and Court House stations. Metro will notify customers prior to work beginning at stations through in-station signage and on Metro’s Faregate Retrofit Project page.

In addition to the faregate modifications, Metro’s stepped-up enforcement efforts have also helped to change behaviors and reduce fare evasion.

Last month, Metro also launched a new income-qualified reduced fare program, Metro Lift, to provide a 50 percent fare discount to customers who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits in the District, Maryland, and Virginia. To-date, more than 1600 customers have enrolled, taking nearly 17,000 combined trips.

{Source: WMATA]

Purple Line opening Delayed Again to Spring 2027

, will cost an extra $148 million

According to news report, the opening of the long-awaited Purple Line has been delayed yet again and is expected to open in spring 2027, state officials announced Friday. Originally slated to cost $5.6 billion, the half-done project will now cost an additional $148 million, bringing the total price tag to $9.4 billion.

Maryland’s Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration and Purple Line Transit Partners will seek approval on Wednesday from the Board of Public Works for an extension of the contract deadline in the Purple Line Public-Private-Partnership agreement.

Originally scheduled to open in 2022, the 16.2-mile light-rail connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties has faced several hurdles throughout its construction. In 2016 a federal judge suspended an environmental approval that was later resolved by a lawsuit in the Purple Line’s favor. By then, construction was 11 months behind. Then in 2020 the design-build contractor dropped out of the project. For two years, Purple Line construction sites sat dormant until a new contactor was hired in 2022.

Purple Line Construction Updates

Update from Purple Line: On or about July 24 through August 21, 2023, crews will implement a full closure of Rivertech Court at the River Road intersection in Riverdale. The closure will facilitate installation of utilities and track through the intersection. Please follow posted detour signage. Beginning as early as July 5, prep work in the area may occur in advance of the closure including intermittent flagging operations. Work may occur 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays and weekends, as needed.

Update from Purple Line: Crews continue water and sewer relocations on Baltimore Avenue (Route 1) at the intersection of Rossborough Lane. Traffic on Baltimore Avenue (Route 1) will be reduced to one lane in each direction from Fraternity Row to Hotel Drive from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through August 13, 2023. Additionally, Rossborough Lane will be closed at Baltimore Avenue (Route 1) through August 13, 2023. Access to Yale Avenue will be maintained via a detour from Hotel Drive to Diamondback Drive. The crosswalk at Baltimore Avenue (Route 1) and Rossborough Lane will be closed, pedestrians should follow onsite signage and cross at the open signalized crosswalks at Fraternity Row or Hotel Drive.

City May Reduce Speed Limit On Rhode Island Ave in North College Park

At next week’s meeting, the City Council will discuss a proposal to reduce the speed limit on Rhode Island Avenue in north College Park.

The City has received feedback and complaints from residents regarding speeds and vehicle/pedestrian interactions along this road segment. Given the high pedestrian and bicycle activity level, high speeds along this corridor create safety concerns. They can often result in vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians within marked crosswalks.

In response to this issue, the City has installed several Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) devices along the corridor to enhance visibility and yielding rates of vehicles to pedestrians utilizing the crosswalks. In addition, the City has recently remarked on Rhode Island Avenue to refresh lane lines, narrow travel lanes, and provide bike lanes and signage throughout the corridor.

The project was completed in 2022, and after the improvements were completed, the City conducted a weeklong traffic count and speed study in October 2022 utilizing a road-tube counter. According to the study, some vehicles travel well above 40 MPH. In the northbound direction, 13,924 vehicles out of 53,430 total vehicles (26.1%) were traveling above the posted speed limit. Of the 13,924 northbound vehicles traveling above the limit, 2,309 vehicles (16.6%) were traveling above 40 MPH. In the southbound direction, even more, vehicles were traveling above the posted limit, with 16,764 of 43,820 total vehicles (38.3%) traveling above 35 MPH. Of the 16,764 vehicles traveling southbound above the limit, 3,501 vehicles (20.8%) were traveling above 40 MPH. In both directions, a non-negligible number of vehicles traveling above 45 MPH. As demonstrated by the outliers in the speed study, there does appear to be a need to slow vehicles down to ensure the safety of other transportation modalities.

With pedestrian and bicycle safety being a priority for the City of College Park, the City has implemented bike lanes and pedestrian crossings along this corridor over the past decade. Bike lanes are provided on both sides of Rhode Island Avenue, and many marked crosswalks are along the corridor. Additionally, the City has installed RRFB devices at four intersections along Rhode Island Avenue: Muskogee Street, Hollywood Road, Geronimo Street, and Cherokee Street. As part of this study, City’s consultant LTC deployed traffic cameras at these intersections to observe pedestrian and vehicle interactions at the RRFB locations over two days. LTC observed whether vehicles stopped pedestrians once the beacon was activated, and the observations are summarized in Table below.

Studies and data from local car and Motorcycle accident attorney firms have shown that lower speed limits lead to fewer crashes and injuries, particularly in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. Reducing the posted speed, in conjunction with other traffic calming techniques, would likely have a positive benefit for more vulnerable road users and increase the yield rates at pedestrian crossings and the effectiveness of RRFB crossings.

The study recommends that a posted speed limit of 30 MPH be considered first if no other physical improvements are to be proposed. However, without other measures or enforcement, speed limit changes alone may not have the desired effect. If other traffic calming techniques are employed, such as installing raised crosswalks, chicanes, or speed humps, operating speeds would likely decrease enough to justify a 25 MPH speed limit. Regardless of what the City ultimately ends up adopting, the corridor should continue to be monitored after implementing any improvements to evaluate the impact the improvements may have had on operating speeds, pedestrian behavior, and its effects on safety for all modalities.

UMD Plans to Buy 35 Electric Battery Transit Buses

UMD has proposed to the Federal Transit Administration to purchase 35 electric battery transit buses and charging infrastructure. The proposed purchase will reduce direct carbon emissions, serve the Justice40 Initiative, and reinforce the City’s regional commitment to smart growth, sustainable transportation, and a sustainable healthy community.
At tomorrow’s meeting, the City Council will consider sending a letter of support for the purchase.

 

Purple Line Community Meeting – This Thursday

The upcoming virtual College Park Community Advisory Team (CAT) meeting will be Thursday, February 16, 2023, at 6:00 PM via Microsoft Teams. You’ll find the meeting link on their website here.

Should you have immediate concerns about the CAT meetings, please get in touch with the team at 443-451-3706 or via email at outreach@purplelinemd.com.

All participants will be reminded to mute microphones until the meeting is opened for questions. The meeting will be recorded and posted to the CAT website with meeting materials, which can be found here.

Commercial Flights May Start Flying Between College Park and New York this Month

A Tailwind Air flight from New York City lands at the College Park Airport on Aug. 6, 2022, in College Park, MD. (Credit: ABC News)

Tailwind Air and the College Park Airport are proposing a pilot program for nonstop flights from College Park to New York, Monday through Friday, with no more than four flights per day to allow passengers to fly to and from Manhattan and to College Park and return on the same day. These planes will not likely create more noise than the airport already has.

The College Park airport is now the world’s oldest continually operated airport and is the site of many significant aviation firsts. More here.

The pilot operation is scheduled to begin on September 13, 2022 and run through December 21, 2022. Tailwind Air intends to use the Cessna 208 EX Caravan, which will accommodate eight (8) passengers per flight. The single-engine plane uses JET-A fuel (not leaded fuel). If you’re flying through your private jet, you should be buying private aircraft insurance.

Assuming the program is successful and Tailwind Air wants to continue with these services, the College Park Airport Authority will review the M-NCPPC Operating Rules and Regulations of the College Park Airport in early 2023. Certain regulations would have to be changed for the program to operate permanently. The rule says: “Charter operators may enplane and deplane passengers and/or cargo at the College Park Airport. No passenger or cargo operations may be conducted to or from the airport on a regular or scheduled basis.”

You can read more about the proposed operation here on the ABC News, and here on the WTop News.

The Council will discuss the proposal at next Tuesday’s City Council meeting. It will consider supporting the Pilot Program for the College Park Airport and Tailwind Air to provide commercial flights from College Park to Manhattan, New York. Members of the M-NCPPC and the College Park Airport Authority are expected to be at the meeting.

With Jettly‘s private plane hire, you can choose to depart from a smaller, less active airport, keeping you distanced from other travelers and airport personnel.

City Council Reiterates its Opposition of I-495 Beltway Expansion

At last week’s Council meeting, the College Park City Council approved a letter reiterating its concerns about the widening of the I-495 beltway. The letter reads:

The Mayor and Council of the City of College Park wish to take this opportunity to restate our strong opposition to the proposed widening and addition of toll lanes for I-495 and I-270. We are concerned that the project will not protect the best interests of Maryland’s taxpayers and will negatively impact the environment and our residents. We remain concerned about the project’s negative environmental impacts and damage to the quality of life in neighborhoods adjacent to the roads.

While road widening may provide short-term congestion relief, studies have shown that in the long-term similar projects lead to more driving, more trips, and more sprawl. The City of College Park supports smart-growth development and transit alternatives instead of a roadway
expansion. The City Council supports The Purple Line and dedicated funding for our region’s transit system. A regional approach to smart growth is necessary, along with enhanced transit beyond the Purple Line (such as a regional Bus Rapid Transit strategy) and improved, connected ways for people to walk and bike to transit or to their jobs.

We respectfully request that you reject the I-495 and I-270 widening project and pursue long-term solutions that create sustainable, healthy, and vibrant communities and economies

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