Last night, Friends of White Flint testified before the City of Rockville Mayor and Council about their proposal to widen Route 355 to 252 feet. We oppose this widening for many reasons, but primarily because it will create what will no doubt become a legendary bottleneck at Montrose Road and it discourages smart growth, green space and walkability.
You can read our testimony below. (If you’d like to share your own thoughts about this with the City of Rockville, they are accepting comments through Friday, March 13 by clicking here.)
TESTIMONY TO THE CITY OF ROCKVILLE ON THE PLAN TO WIDEN ROUTE 355
Mayor and Councilmembers, my name is Amy Ginsburg, and I represent Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization with 1,100 supporters whose mission is to ensure that the promise of the White Flint Sector Plan is fulfilled.
As you know, the Pike District/White Flint area is transforming into a walkable, transit-friendly, live-work-play community. As you also know, boundaries are artificial, and to residents, shoppers, and office workers, there is no boundary between the area of Route 355 in the Pike District and the portion that falls under City of Rockville jurisdiction. They view it as one continuous community. Everyone who has an interest in creating a vibrant community that fosters growth and livability must act in concert. We must work together to ensure that the Pike becomes a road that unites the east and west sides of Route 355 and unites the areas north and south of Montrose Road. None of us wants the Pike to become a vast plain of asphalt that separates rather than connects.
The City’s proposal to widen Route 355 to 252 feet is dramatically different than the plan for Route 355 south of Montrose Road where it will be 181 feet wide. The bottleneck that will be created as people walk, drive, and bike south from downtown Rockville to the Pike District will be one that will quickly assume legendary stature as lanes shift and disappear. A traffic and safety problem of that magnitude will greatly diminish our community.
“We want walkable streets and easy access to transit” is the cry heard from businesses and residents. Widening Route 355 to 252 feet will dramatically impede not only the appearance of walkability but also the actual ability to walk across and along Rockville Pike. If there is sufficient room to include broad sidewalks, bike paths, bus rapid transit lanes, and car lanes on a 181- foot-wide Route 355 as it passes through the Pike District, there should be sufficient room for all of those essential components north of Montrose Road.
The Friends of White Flint very much hopes that the City of Rockville will choose walkability, consistency, and stability and not widen Route 355 to 252 feet. Thank you very much for your time