County Award Winners 2023-1

Award of Excellence: Montgomery County, Maryland

2023 Project Award Winner: Small Area
Corridor Forward: The I-270 Transit Plan

In 1961, the Washington National Pike, now known as Interstate 270 (I-270), was envisioned as a transit corridor – a vision further embraced by Montgomery County’s 1964 General Plan and reaffirmed through decades of master plans.

While many corridor residents and employees use and enjoy existing transit services along the corridor today, a vision to serve the I-270 corridor with transit requires recommitment. Key midcounty and upcounty transit connections need to be established to link the corridor cities of Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Clarksburg to the county’s high- quality transit network. Transit access to neighboring Frederick and Fairfax counties could also be improved to be more frequent, direct, and competitive.

The plan relies on detailed technical analysis but strives to communicate ideas in plain language. The executive summary of the plan was translated into frequently spoken languages in Montgomery County, and a two-page explainer document seeks to summarize the key recommendations of the plan.

Corridor Forward aims to advance transit beyond talk and into action by developing a lasting, achievable transit vision for the I-270 corridor. The Plan employs a scenario-planning approach to help decisionmakers understand the different purposes, benefits, constraints, and costs of various transit options; how components of different options can fit together to create a complementary transit network, and the potential order of implementation for the recommended network.

After decades of population and employment growth along the I-270 corridor, county leaders are calling for sustainable transit opportunities to move people between home and work and leisure activities and back again. Corridor Forward: The I-270 Transit Plan presents recommendations that improve transit access along the corridor as well as advance the county’s goals related to equity, environment, and economy.

Following the adoption of the plan, Montgomery County Council adopted a capital budget that allocated significant funding for the top priority short-term recommendations in the plan. As a result, those high priority projects are now advancing.

County Award Winners 2023-2 (1)

Award of Merit: Wabash County, Indiana

2023 Award Winner: Small Jurisdiction
Imagine One 85: A Comprehensive Plan

After over 40 years of steady population decline, the 421 square mile area in northeast Indiana needed a plan that could change the inevitable, downward trajectory of the County’s future.

That’s why, in 2019, County leaders came together and created the first ever County-wide collaboration effort known as Imagine One 85. This unprecedented community comprehensive plan was the foundation the County had needed and waited for, and would act as the catalyst for real, positive, and evident change throughout Wabash County. This plan will act as the first, major step in combating a looming, unwelcome, and fundamental change to the County. Because the County leaders took action, it enabled the communities of Wabash to create a collaborative yet unique playbook to shape the future.

One of the major focuses of Imagine One 85 was the fiscal analysis done and recommendations suggested as a result. The Imagine process brought in a public finance consultant to take an in-depth look at the recommendations of the plan. A detailed, government-focused financial analysis for each jurisdiction was performed and included a summary of where a community could leverage existing revenues streams, in addition to pursuing new ones.

Achieving the plan’s vision would not be possible without creative use of limited public dollars or alternative revenue sources that would provide for the investments necessary for growth of the County. Typically, a comprehensive plan will review revenue sources and fixed expenses of a jurisdiction, but this was not sufficient for Wabash County. This analysis went a step above the baseline so that communities could look at revenue sources that could be tapped into, maximized, or even ones that were not known to be available.

The final plan was structured as one cohesive document but laid out logically so that communities within the County could easily access and understand the recommendations laid out in the plan that were geared towards them. The graphics, charts, and text used create a structure that is inviting, compelling, and readable, even if one does not have a planning background.

Finally, the language used is to-the-point, and allows for all members of the community to not only realize the situation their community is in but understand that there is now a plan for the future.