The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has received four 2021 National Association of Counties (NACo) achievement awards in the categories of Transportation, Community and Economic Development and Risk and Emergency Management.
Since 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards have recognized county government innovations, and are given in 18 different categories that reflect the comprehensive services counties provide, including financial management, county administration, information technology, health, and civic engagement.
“These nationally recognized programs exemplify the remarkable job MCDOT employees have done throughout the pandemic to improve services for Montgomery County residents,” said Chris Conklin, director of MCDOT. “Our employees’ ability to innovate has had a substantial positive impact on our community’s quality of life, health and safety and has aided the economic support of local businesses.”
According to a County press release, MCDOT received the following awards from NACo:
Essential Service Plan – Pandemic 2020. In early 2020, the COVID-19 virus began to spread throughout the world and ultimately to the United States. Under Maryland’s “Stay at Home” orders, a need for transportation existed for healthcare workers and residents in need of food and other essential services. MCDOT’s quickly put a plan in place to address these immediate needs. Beginning March 15, 2020, its Ride On program began to gradually reduce bus service levels as ridership demand and bus operator availability began to drop. Six separate service plans were developed and operated to best match operational resources to ridership demand.
Bethesda Facility Improvements. Five MCDOT-operated parking garages and one lot within the Bethesda parking lot district were identified for a modernization plans. These areas met criteria due to the age of existing single-space meters, the high demand for parking and the need to optimize parking inventory.
Wheaton Revitalization Project. The Wheaton Revitalization Project’s objective was to provide a community a 14-story government office building, a below-ground parking garage and a town square as part of a revitalization strategy for Downtown Wheaton. The mixed-use development, which was dedicated in October 2021, improved mobility, increased public transit use due to close proximity to the Wheaton Metro Station, reduced traffic congestion, diminished negative environmental impacts and increased the diversity of employment opportunities and services to the Wheaton area. The project has brought new energy and identification to the downtown area by relocating numerous County agencies and departments from various locations to a centralized building. That presence has boosted the local economy through expanded commercial activity in retail, dining and entertainment establishments. The project also enhanced the diversity, equity and inclusion by bringing programs and services closer to residents and business.
Parking Program Adjustments due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 health crisis required immediate strategic decisions to enhance safety, support local businesses and to provide resources and economic relief to the community—while operating with reduced resources. Over the past year, MCDOT created curbside pickup zones, provided free parking in limited off-street facilities, suspended certain aspects of enforcement, enhanced cleaning services, lowered expenditures and reserved a level in a garage to facilitate public COVID-19 testing operations.