News & Politics

Seven Miles of Georgia Avenue Will Have a Bus-Only Lane This Summer

Montgomery County will cede a lane to accommodate Metro riders displaced by Red Line closures.

Photograph by Arya Hodjat.

Part of Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County will be converted into a designated bus lane this summer to accommodate the scheduled closure of the Metro’s Red Line north of Fort Totten, county and WMATA officials announced Tuesday.

A near-seven mile portion of Georgia Avenue, from the Glenmont Metro Station to the DC border, will lose a lane of through traffic as officials anticipate an influx of shuttle bus ridership from June 1 through August 31, with the Silver Spring, Wheaton, Forest Glen, and Glenmont stations all set to be closed due to construction of the Purple Line. (A fifth station, Takoma, will be closed for the month of June only.)

“I’m as happy as you can possibly be announcing a disruption,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said at a Tuesday press conference at Silver Spring’s Paul Sarbanes Transit Center. “There are thousands of people who ride that train, and if there is no train, they’re back in cars…the thought of all those folks having to add to the cars on Georgia Avenue would have been a serious problem.”

WMATA typically provides shuttle bus service between shuttered stations during extended closures. However, these bus lanes won’t be just used for Metro shuttles—Montgomery County Ride On buses that are routed through Georgia Avenue will also be able to use these lanes, WMATA General Manager Randy Clarke said Tuesday.

“To me, this shows what can be done, and now it’s about seeing if we can make some of these things permanent and really move things forward,” Clarke said.

While the majority of the construction will take place at Silver Spring, as workers build out a mezzanine for a future Purple Line stop at the transit center, Clarke said additional maintenance work at Takoma, as well as safety concerns for workers near an active railway, necessitated the temporary closure of all stations north of Fort Totten.

The long-anticipated (and long-delayed) Purple Line will span from Bethesda to New Carrollton, and will be operated by the state of Maryland’s transportation department, not WMATA. Currently, it is set to open in late 2027.

Clarke and Elrich were joined by members of the Montgomery County Council, one of whom—at-large member Evan Glass—was a few minutes late to the presser, joking his tardiness was to blame on his own Ride-On route not having a dedicated bus lane.

“Yes, this is going to be a little disruptive for some people, but the reality is that it’s going to be tremendously helpful for the people who still have to get to work every day and who rely on public transit,” Glass said.

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow