Montgomery County will host a forum next week to discuss a new vision for the Germantown and Boyds MARC stations.

The Feb. 1 hearing will give the public the chance to weigh in on the MARC Rail Communities Plan, which calls for new thinking in how to better utilize these Brunswick Line stops while protecting their historical nature.

Currently, neither station in upper Montgomery County can accommodate the area’s growing populations. Boyds has a mere 15 parking spots, and trains stop there just four times in the morning. MARC had sought to close the station in 2005 but it remained open after some lobbying by the community. Germantown, meanwhile, has about 700 spots that are full by 7:30 a.m.

“At its heart, the MARC Rail Communities Plan is a preservation strategy that aims to protect and enhance valued historic rural character and resources in both Boyds and Germantown,” the text of the draft plan reads. “At the same time, the plan looks to the future by offering recommendations that support and better utilize existing transit assets, improve transportation connections and traffic safety in both station areas.”

The plan area for the Boyds MARC station comprises 252 acres, while Germantown’s plan includes 290 acres. Both include historic areas and historic sites, which local residents have been vocal about protecting.

The communities plan suggests that a new parking garage could be added at Germantown to allow for more ridership. But priorities for the Boyds station simply call for improved access for bikes and pedestrians. In the case of both stations, planners want to add bus links and other public transit options to allow people to get to the MARC stations without needing to drive.

The public hearing on the MARC Rail Communities Sector Plan will be on Feb. 1 at the BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown. Members of the public can sign up to testify here.

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