Update: On Tuesday, March 23rd, the Montgomery County Council unanimously supported restoring funding for the new Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue in the County’s six-year Capital Improvement Program. This decision upholds the Council’s unanimous support in 2020, the Transportation & Environment Committee’s February 2021 recommendation and rejects County Executive Elrich’s proposal to delay the tunnel construction by at least two years.
A final vote on the budget will take place in late April or early May. Thanks to everyone who contacted their councilmembers. WABA will continue to track this funding through the budget reconciliation process. The discussion and vote starts around 41 minutes into this video.
Last year, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to fund construction of a new trail tunnel to carry the Capital Crescent Trail under Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda starting in late 2024. But this Spring, County Executive Elrich removed the tunnel from his budget, delaying funding to 2026 or later. Email your council member and urge them to restore funding for the trail tunnel.
With the construction of the Purple Line project, the Capital Crescent Trail is being upgraded and extended from Bethesda to the Silver Spring Metro. Without a new tunnel under Wisconsin Ave, the estimated 15,000 weekly trail users must cross Wisconsin Avenue’s (MD-255) six travel lanes and 40,000 daily cars and trucks at an improved, but still at-grade intersection. Restoring funding for the tunnel is critical not just for Bethesda, but for preserving safe access to jobs, recreation, transit and services from all the neighborhoods connected by the region’s trail network.
Urge the Council to restore funding for the tunnel now! Add some personal details to make the message reflect you and why you support a new trail tunnel.
As far back as the 1994 Bethesda CBD Sector Plan, Montgomery County has planned for both a tunnel route and a surface route for the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda. After the Hogan administration made significant changes to the Purple Line which removed the trail from the Air Rights tunnel, the County Council and Planning Board reaffirmed the vision for both tunnel and surface alignments by adding a new tunnel project to the adopted 2017 Bethesda Downtown Master Plan and 2018 Bicycle Master Plan. Based on this vision, the Planning Board secured an agreement with Carr Properties to build a part of that tunnel under 7272 Wisconsin Avenue and the Council approved $3.8 million for the remaining tunnel design under Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street. Construction funding was expected in the Capital budget.
High quality, accessable, and continuous trails are critical to our region’s transportation and sustainability goals, Vision Zero commitments, economic competitiveness, and public well being. Trails provide low stress access to open space and reliable transportation for people of all ages and abilities. Funding the tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue will deliver on a generation of planning and promises with a truly accessible trail between Silver Spring and downtown Bethesda.
Restoring funding follows the unanimous recommendation of the Council Transportation & Environment Committee last month, reaffirms the 9-0 vote by the Council in May 2020 to put funding into the Capital Budget (FY 21-26) and fulfills the promises made by County officials for over 25 years to provide a facility that will allow thousands of Trail users to safely travel to and from Bethesda.