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Leggett requests $1 million for more rapid-bus research

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Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett delivers his first State of the County Address at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building in Rockville, Maryland on Monday, December 3, 2007.  Greg Whitesell/Examiner
04mdSTATE Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett delivers his first State of the County Address at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building in Rockville, Maryland on Monday, December 3, 2007. Greg Whitesell/Examiner
Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett wants another $1 million to research a proposed bus rapid transit system.

His request to the County Council comes just one week after he said the project was financially unfeasible for the cash-strapped county.

He said that with the $1 million he has requested from the council, his Transit Task Force could better analyze three routes for the proposed system: the Corridor Cities Transitway along Interstate 270, Route 355/Rockville Pike and U.S. 29/Colesville Road.

"As we currently look at it, it's not affordable," Leggett said. "But we need to look at what we need to do in terms of additional resources."

The task force originally put a price tag of $1.8 billion on the BRT system, which would create lanes specifically for rapid, streetcarlike buses on the county's major thoroughfares either by taking over existing lanes or widening the roads. But after a Planning Department review, county Master Planner Larry Cole estimated the system was more likely to cost $8 billion to $10 billion, with the task force suggesting raising property taxes as much as 15 percent to pay for it.

Cole recommended shrinking the system from 162 miles to 92 miles and running the buses on existing lanes, which he predicted would be more cost-effective.

Leggett said he wants the task force to analyze proposed routes, ridership and a feasible timeline.

Councilwoman Nancy Floreen, D-at large, said she had not seen the proposal. However, she was skeptical that there needed to be any more funding put toward research.

"I'm not sure what $1 million would be spent for," she said. "We're spending a lot of money on studies and very little on doing. Money is not growing on trees. Additional studies seems a little questionable."

The task force submitted its proposal this summer, and the Planning Board

is holding public hearings for community input.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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