(Sigh, yes, that obvious holiday cliche was used last night, and I apologize for repeating it)
At its second meeting last night, the new White Flint Implementation Committee heard from Dan Hardy, head of “Vision” and transportation planner extraordinaire for the Montgomery Planning Board, about transportation issues in the new White Flint and the new CLATR transportation review process. (And he used the cliche first.)
(Dan Hardy (R) and Planning Director Rollin Stanley)
The Comprehensive Local Area Transportation Review (pronounced “clatter”) is the new form of transportation measurement and evaluation created by the White Flint Sector Plan. Unlike earlier reviews, which looked at particular major intersections and judged how fast cars moved through them, CLATR is intended to be a more inclusive evaluation of congestion and traffic movement within White Flint, and to consider bicycles and transportation modes other than automobiles. The new CLATR will be coordinated with other transportation surveys, such as the City of Rockville’s Master Plan for Rockville Pike and the Subdivision Staging Policy (which used to be known as the Growth Policy).
CLATR will include some of the older transportation tests, like PAMR, the area-wide performance test, LATR, the specific intersection test, possibly the County Executive’s new TPAR (which would feature “directionality” of analysis, always a desireable feature) and the “mode share analysis” which judges how many workers and residents use transit vs. driving. (It is an iron-clad rule in Montgomery County that acronyms multiply like rabbits and policy names must change every few years.)
The CLATR analysis area is bigger than the actual White Flint Sector boundaries, stretching from I-270 at Montrose, up into Twinbrook, across Randolph Hills to Rock Creek Park, and down into Grosvenor, almost to the Beltway. The area covers virtually all of the area Friends of White Flint uses to define White Flint (across almost a dozen traffic analysis areas).
Although CLATR analysis is just starting, Hardy pointed out that in White Flint, most intersections are not “failing” as they are in other parts of the County. There are only two intersections within the Sector boundaries that are considered marginal: Nicholson/Tilden at Old Georgetown Road, and Nicholson Lane at Rockville Pike. The new White Flint traffic grid is expected to take some of the pressure off these intersections.
There was also a vigorous discussion of the new Montrose Parkway intersection at Rockville Pike and Hoya Street (which used to be called “Old Old Georgetown Road” and runs behind Mid-Pike Plaza). Although some Committee members pointed out that much of the traffic congestion at these intersections is gone with the opening of the new Parkway intersections, others pointed out that the lack of signage results in lots of near accidents. Committee member Della Stollsworth, from Luxmanor, pointed out that she had almost been hit over the weekend, as someone zoomed around a corner without looking. Committee member Greg Trimmer, from JBG Companies, pointed out that the high speeds and massive asphalt road system meant that there would never be any sustainable development “on any of those four corners” and that pedestrians were endangered as well.
And, although the Commitee looked like it was off to a good start, there were also hints that older problems might surface again. The former White Flint Steering Committee had internal disagreements between groups of residents, which contributed to the eventual demise of the Steering Committee. Some of those questions came back, as Committee member Natalie Goldberg interrupted the transportation discussion, to ask whether the Forum Condominium, whose residential association President Todd Lewers is also a Committee member and was taking the notes for the meeting, was getting a “free-ride” for future development by being exempted by the County Council from the new Special Taxing District, as were all condominium communities in White Flint. County Executive Assistant Diane Schwartz-Jones, also a Committee member, piled on, declaring this a “fairness” issue. After several minutes of animated discussion, Planning staffer Nkosi Yearwood pointed out that this was a transportation discussion, and directed the group back to Dan Hardy’s presentation.
The next meetings of the Implementation Committee will be held on January 10, 2011 and February 14, 2011. The January meeting will discuss parks, libraries and other community amenities, and the February meeting will discuss schools. The Committee asked to have future meetings held in, or at least closer to, White Flint. All meetings are open to the public.