Rendering of a bus featuring a wavy orange, yellow, green, and blue pattern as part of the Flash BRT network in Montgomery County, Md.

MD 355 Bus Rapid Transit Planning Study

Enhancing transit services and multimodal integration in Montgomery County, Md.

Our Client’s Challenge

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is seeking to deliver premium transit service between Bethesda and Clarksburg, Maryland, that enhances transit connectivity and multimodal integration with improved operational efficiency and reliability along MD 355 Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike/Frederick Road.

This bus rapid transit (BRT) project will create new public transportation connections and support growth and redevelopment at key activity centers along the corridor, including downtown Bethesda, North Bethesda, Rockville, and Gaithersburg. Following completion of the project, the 22-mile-long county-owned and operated BRT will pass through three jurisdictions and operate on a state-owned arterial roadway.

Our Solution

For this proposed BRT corridor, Gannett Fleming is providing:

  • Project management.
  • Conceptual engineering.
  • Environmental documentation.
  • Public involvement services.

The project will improve the ability of buses to travel along MD 355 with improved operational efficiency, reliability, and travel times. Completion of the project is part of a proposed coordinated regional transit system.

Our project team developed and evaluated four build alternatives, plus a no-build alternative, based on MCDOT’s goals and objectives. The four build alternatives included:

  • A transportation system management (TSM) alternative.
  • An alternative that would run in mixed traffic.
  • An option featuring median-running, dedicated BRT lanes.
  • An alternative consisting primarily of curb-running BRT lanes.

Except for the TSM alternative, all the build alternatives would include BRT enhancements such as queue jumps, transit signal priority, off-board fare collection, level boarding, new BRT vehicles, and upgraded stations.

Project Management

Gannett Fleming was the consultant project manager for the MD 355 BRT Planning Study, responsible for task management consulting oversight. As part of this effort, the firm prepared a strategic action plan that outlined the steps needed to complete this effort in a compressed timeframe and included:

  • An MCDOT process to ensure timely review of materials.
  • A risk register to proactively identify, track, and mitigate project issues.
  • An issue resolution process for external stakeholders.

Following the completion of the planning study, the project progressed to preliminary design. MCDOT is working with the community to refine and optimize the final project results.

Conceptual Engineering

Our team developed detailed designs for each build alternative. The tasks included:

  • System design criteria.
  • Typical sections.
  • Horizontal and vertical alignments.
  • Side alignment studies.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian compatibility and design.
  • Conceptual stormwater management.

Conceptual engineering analysis also included the establishment of limits of disturbance (LOD) to assess the impacts of each build alternative, including environmental, cultural, and property impacts. The plan also incorporated the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) standard cost estimate categories’ construction cost and real estate estimates.

Context Sensitive and Practical Design

Since much of MD 355 is a densely developed urban and suburban corridor, the right-of-way is constrained. This required innovative design solutions to incorporate all desired needs into the corridor while minimizing property impacts and costs. Working closely with MCDOT, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and other stakeholders, our team developed typical sections that accommodated bus routes, general purpose traffic, bicycle, and pedestrian uses and attempted to address Montgomery County master plan goals while minimizing impacts to adjacent property owners. As parcels along the corridor are redeveloped, coordination will occur to ensure the needs of the BRT are accommodated.

Environmental Assessments and Documentation

Gannett Fleming led environmental documentation efforts for the planning study, which included revisions to the purpose and need, developing a corridor study report that followed the format and content appropriate for a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment, and developing supporting technical reports.

Additionally, the firm oversaw cultural resource efforts, including developing the area of potential effect, a historic resources field survey, and the preparation of Maryland Historical Trust determination of eligibility forms for historic resources 50 years of age or older.

Key Features

  • Flash BRT service on MD 355.
  • New BRT stations.
  • Roadway design.
  • Stormwater management design.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
  • Transit signal priority and queue jumps.

Awards & Recognition

  • Awards. This web part is hidden.


  • Enhances transit connectivity and integration with other travel modes and transit options.
  • Improves bus speed and reliability.
  • Addresses current and future bus services.
  • Attracts new riders and provides improved service for existing bus and transit riders.
  • Supports future projects.
  • Improves transit access to major employment and activity centers.
  • Achieves master planned non-auto driver modal share.
  • Improves safety.


Montgomery County Department of Transportation


Montgomery County, Md.


Project Management, Preliminary Engineering, Environmental Documentation, Public Outreach, Coordinated Regional Transit System

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