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Proposed Montgomery bus transit system could gobble commuter traffic lanes

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Cole, who drafted the proposal, estimated the task force's plan could cost $8 billion to $10 billion. He said he didn't think the county had a need for a system that big with a price tag that high.

Using lanes already in existence is cheaper than building new infrastructure, he said. In a few places where using existing lanes isn't feasible, shoulders and median lanes could be adapted, he said.

Cole had no cost estimate for his plan but said it would be considerably less than the $8 billion to $10 billion estimate for the Leggett task force proposal.

Taking away traffic lanes on heavily traveled county roads could prove a tough sell, some officials acknowledged. But Cole defended the idea by saying the number of cars of the roads would eventually drop as more people took the bus.

"There are more people on the [proposed] buses and there are less vehicles on the road," Cole said of the plan. "There would be a lot of people in the transit lane that would be going much faster than they would be going right now, because they're stuck in traffic with everyone else."

However, Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier acknowledged it might not be that easy. She said she is still on the fence about using a lane for the transit system. But she predicts drivers will be worried about increased congestion in certain areas.

Planning Board Commissioner Casey Anderson said the board's focus has been on determining under what circumstances you could take a lane and reassign it. He said implementing the BRT will have a financial impact regardless of what is proposed. "A lot of people are going to look at it and say, 'I don't want to pay $2 billion for a transit network,' " he said. "I am in the camp that -- number one -- nobody really knows how much it will cost, it depends on a lot of factors that are yet to be addressed."

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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