Friends of White Flint

Promoting a Sustainable, Walkable and Engaging Community

P.O. Box 2761

White Flint Station

Kensington, MD 20891

Phone: 301-980-3768

Email: info@whiteflint.org


Your Help is Urgently Needed to Ensure a Pedestrian and Bicycle-Friendly Montrose Parkway East

Posted on by Amy Ginsburg

17 Comments

Bookmark and Share
Montrose Parkway

Friends of White Flint has spent the past few weeks learning and thinking about Montrose Parkway East. Executive Director Amy Ginsburg attended the recent hearing and participated in a helpful meeting with MCDOT. She also gathered opinions from our board, our members, and residents of the White Flint area. After sorting through the advantages and disadvantages of this road, Friends of White Flint has come to the conclusion that the proposed Montrose Parkway East has many virtues, but it also has one large problem — the interchange at Parklawn and Montrose Parkway.

The SPUI interchange at Montrose Parkway and Parklawn is over-engineered and will discourage walking and biking. In fact, it would make walking and biking a dicey proposition at best, and there is the very real possibility that walking and biking through that intersection will actually be dangerous. An example of a SPUI interchange is the Falls Road/270 interchange — it’s hard to imagine walking or biking comfortably and safely at that intersection, isn’t it?

We like that we will now have a safe overpass over the railroad checks, and we realize that Montgomery County does need more east-west roads. We like, too, that both Montrose Parkway and Parklawn Drive will have a ten-foot mixed use path on one side of each road and a five-foot sidewalk on the opposite side of each road.

But building pedestrian-friendly roads and spaces must be a top priority in the Pike District. Walkability is a central tenet of the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan and something we must protect.

To ensure a walkable, vibrant, live-work-play community, we ask you to send by 6 pm on Thursday, August 13 the following email (or even better, something similar in your own words) to: 
Gaila.Lescinskiene@montgomerycountymd.gov       (Please cc or bcc: info@whiteflint.org)

Dear Montgomery County Department of Transportation:

While generally I support the construction of Montrose Parkway East to facilitate east-west crossings in Montgomery County and am pleased that there will be an overpass over the railroad tracks to increase safety, I am opposed to the SPUI interchange at Parklawn and Montrose Road. It is an over-engineered intersection that makes it dangerous and difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to utilize the intersection. 

It is imperative that the interchange be changed to an at-grade intersection to encourage walkability, fulfill the goals of the White Flint Sector Plan, and ensure pedestrian and bicycle safety. I strongly urge SHA and MCDOT to change the design of the intersection at Parklawn and Montrose Parkway to make it pedestrian and bicycle-friendly by building an at-grade intersection.

Thank you.
YOUR NAME
YOUR ADDRESS

 

17 Responses to Your Help is Urgently Needed to Ensure a Pedestrian and Bicycle-Friendly Montrose Parkway East

Edward Rich, President, Greater Farmland Civic Association says: August 6, 2015 at 4:21 pm

I’m dismayed about FOWF taking a position on Montrose Parkway East. The Greater Farmland Civic Association, which is a member of FOWF was not aware that FOWF would be taking a position on Montrose Parkway East and did was not consulted prior to FOWF taking a position to support the Parkway construction. While the Greater Farmland Civic Association has not taken a position in favor of or against Montrose Parkway East, our predecessor organizations fought very hard against Montrose Parkway West as unnecessary and an environmental killer. The same results could have been achieved by simply widening Montrose Road and reconfiguring turn lanes at East Jefferson. However, the County Executive at the time, Doug Duncan had an easement for the outer beltway that was to expire and was also running for Governor and wanted to show that he could be decisive, so a $130 million road (including what what was supposed to be paid for by the state) was built that cut off a key east-west county connection and created a grade separation at Montrose and Rockville Pike that is antithetical to the vision of the White Flnit Sector Plan to create an urban district.

The same can be said for Montrose Parkway East, a road that will destroy mature woodlands to save drivers a couple of seconds from their daily
commute and finish the by-passing of the White Flint sector and all of its residences, shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels and offices that the Montrose Parkway West created.

FOWF should be encouraging ride sharing and other forms of transportation that minimize single occupancy vehicle travel, not construction of an unnecessary road that adds nothing to the urban grid that was supposed to be created in White Flint. Just take a look at the Gladding-Jackson study that was funded by the White Flint Partnership.

The only virtue, if it indeed a virtue, is removing the at-grade interchange with the CSX tracks. I personally see no virtue in this road that abruptly ends at Viers Mill Road. Moreover, supporting this road when there are other critical infrastructure issues, such as the south entrance to the Bethesda Metro and funding for the BRT, is asinine

The views of FOLG on the road do not represent the views of the Greater Farmland Civic Association and we do not wish to be seen as supporting this position. If our 980 home association is not going to have a voice in FOWF decisions we will have to consider withdrawing our membership in this organization.

Ed Rich
President
Greater Farmland Civic Association

Edward.Rich says: August 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm

I’m dismayed about FOWF taking a position on Montrose Parkway East. The Greater Farmland Civic Association, which is a member of FOWF was not aware that FOWF would be taking a position on Montrose Parkway East and did was not consulted prior to FOWF taking a position to support the Parkway construction. While the Greater Farmland Civic Association has not taken a position in favor of or against Montrose Parkway East, our predecessor organizations fought very hard against Montrose Parkway West as unnecessary and an environmental killer. The same results could have been achieved by simply widening Montrose Road and reconfiguring turn lanes at East Jefferson. However, the County Executive at the time, Doug Duncan had an easement for the outer beltway that was to expire and was also running for Governor and wanted to show that he could be decisive, so a $130 million road (including what what was supposed to be paid for by the state) was built that cut off a key east-west county connection and created a grade separation at Montrose and Rockville Pike that is antithetical to the vision of the White Flnit Sector Plan to create an urban district.

The same can be said for Montrose Parkway East, a road that will destroy mature woodlands to save drivers a couple of seconds from their daily
commute and finish the by-passing of the White Flint sector and all of its residences, shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels and offices that the Montrose Parkway West created.

FOWF should be encouraging ride sharing and other forms of transportation that minimize single occupancy vehicle travel, not construction of an unnecessary road that adds nothing to the urban grid that was supposed to be created in White Flint. Just take a look at the Gladding-Jackson study that was funded by the White Flint Partnership.

The only virtue, if it indeed a virtue, is removing the at-grade interchange with the CSX tracks. I personally see no virtue in this road that abruptly ends at Viers Mill Road. Moreover, supporting this road when there are other critical infrastructure issues, such as the south entrance to the Bethesda Metro and funding for the BRT, is asinine

The views of FOLG on the road do not represent the views of the Greater Farmland Civic Association and we do not wish to be seen as supporting this position. If our 980 home association is not going to have a voice in FOWF decisions we will have to consider withdrawing our membership in this organization.

Ed Rich
President
Greater Farmland Civic Association

Amy Ginsburg says: August 7, 2015 at 9:59 am

Ed —

Thanks so much for writing. I truly appreciate your viewpoint and input. The Greater Farmland Civic Association is an important and treasured member of FOWF.

As you know, Friends of White Flint has nearly 1,300 supporters, and we asked them a couple of times for their thoughts on this issue. I apologize if somehow the Greater Farmland Civic Association did not get our requests for input through our eblast and blog.

Our members hold many divergent views on this road, ranging from enthusiastically in favor of it, begrudging acceptance of it, happiness that the road solves the railroad crossing problem, a passion for making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, dislike of the SPUI interchange, and outright hatred of the entire project. The most prevalent viewpoint was “it’s not a great road but it’s a road I can live with as long as the interchange at Parklawn and the Parkway is made far safer and more convenient for walkers and bikes.”

Because that was the prevailing point of view, and after much thought and consideration, Friends of White Flint decided to support, albeit temperately, the Parkway and fight like hell to ensure that pedestrians and bicyclists can safely and easily navigate it. Both the folks who enthusiastically support this road and those who despise it wish we had decided on another viewpoint, and I understand their reaction.

Again, Ed, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. While we may not always make the decision that everyone agrees with 100% of the time, 100% of the time we want to hear what our members have to say and we take seriously what our members say.

If you want to talk more by phone or in person, just let me know. I’d love to continue to conversation with you.

Thanks again, Rich.

Amy Ginsburg, Executive Director
Friends of White FLint

Edward.Rich says: August 7, 2015 at 10:24 am

Amy,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. While we knew that FOWF was soliciting comments we had no idea that the FOWG was going to take a formal position on the road. That should have been communicated to members such as Greater Farmland Civic Association prior to the FOWG meeting through circulation of an agenda with that item specifically stated as an item to be discussed and voted on.

Ed

Amy Ginsburg says: August 8, 2015 at 11:38 am

You’re right, Ed. That’s the way we’ll handle things the next time. (There really is a learning curve in every new job, isn’t there?)

Thank you, Ed.

Amy

Gull says: August 6, 2015 at 4:45 pm

To me, the whole point of Montrose parkway is to move cars so efficiently that they will all use the parkway as their primary way in/out of the Pike District, potentially reducing the car traffic in other parts of the district. To that end, having a grade separated interchange then seems to make the most sense. Also consider the Planning Board purposefully requested that the old Randolph Road alignment be left open at the request of the community and planning staff to facilitate east/west bicycle and pedestrian movements. It would seem to me that much of Randolph’s extra pavement width could be re-purposed into bike and pedestrian spaces. There’s little need to really grade separate bikes and peds – the gaps between trains are plenty long. I realize this makes it difficult to safely pass the proposed interchange out of a car, but that’s where i’d ask for a separate bridge or tunnel be built, or ask that the SPI be changed into a diamond interchange with more traditional signals and crossings.

Amy Ginsburg says: August 7, 2015 at 9:43 am

Thanks for writing. Those are some very good points. I hope you’ll express them to MCDOT, too.

Lori.P says: August 8, 2015 at 8:34 am

If a design is not holistic, and does not take the community’s residents into consideration, then it makes about as much sense as the Cross Bronx Expressway. I have in front of me one of the early preliminary alternate plans from 2001, from a handout book that presents a very simple improvement study. Over the years the design grew and grew, and it didn’t end up as a plan for ‘improvement’. It ended up as a political, developer, planning board, state, county, road architect, highway official etc free-for-all. Somehow the community got lost in all this, and ‘projections’ (those ghostly yet-to-be apparitions) took our place. Now many of the developers want something more sustainable, which is appreciated. But those wheels of ‘progress’ were already grinding away—and here we are.

I am confused about what interchange you are addressing. The one at Parklawn or the one at Chapman? (that one will be an intersection) Because if there is no grade separated ped/bike paths, then how will west hook up with east? Randolph will sort of dead-end behind Mom’s, (there will be a road going behind it) and any path will need to find a way to continue west. Is that the bridge you are referring to? A bridge to go over to meet the rest of the path at Chapman? Because peds and bikers would not need to cross the proposed SPUI at Parklawn (which should be an intersection) if we do what you suggest, as they will be on Randolph, not the parkway. However, there will still be dangerous crossings going north/south—hot rights. Also, you would need to improve Randolph sidewalks all the way down to Veirs Mill—which is needed anyway. We should have wide sidewalks everywhere, with lines painted down the middle. This whole project is nuts. It’s so…suburban. If a small city is what is going in, then we have to deal with city design. Grids, safe pedestrian crossings, bike accessibility. And yeah, traffic at times. Improvements to existing roads, not freewayizing Robert Moses style. Most people are still in a “the world revolves around a car” mindset. An awfully hard mold to crack, especially if there is no help from the municipalities, who seem to encourage that mindset.

Lori.P says: August 8, 2015 at 9:53 am

Looking at the plan at Chapman—you could continue the ‘Randolph path’ to go into the Chapman intersection—Hopefully the north side of Randolph will have a sidewalk leading to the crossing that will eventually bring you back to the path to continue west. The diagram is a bit unclear on that. And then the parkway could end at Parklawn (!)—one of those early concepts had the elevated parkway ending at Randolph and stopping there with an improved intersection. Gee, this gets confusing. Just like when Montrose Road ends at Hoya. I see people camped out there all the time wondering what to do…

Lori.P says: August 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Hi—-Thank you Amy, and FOWF, for being concerned about pedestrians and bikers. Hi all—- I live in Bethesda Park, which is the condo complex which will abut the parkway. I walk more than I drive. Parklawn is well walked by many! I have followed this for almost as long as I have lived here- almost 20 years. I would rather not see this parkway and its interchange built at all. A ridiculous SPUI and a 1.5 mile road leading to Veirs Mill is a waste of money and animal and plant life. I have lived with these woods for a long time. I feed the birds and walk amongst the trees of Rock Creek constantly. HOWEVER ! ! I have seen how Montrose Parkway West was fought by many intelligent residents in Farmland, etc., most likely Ed Rich among them. He makes many valid, wonderful points. I have seen how the environmental issues were ignored by the Maryland EPA, and if I am not mistaken, were the last nail in the coffin. I was at that meeting, and I experienced the passion of the community about MPW. It was the last hope. What I am afraid of, is that this same fate awaits us east enders— that this horrible SPUI will be built at Parklawn, even if there are many who don’t want the road at all—and that this will continue the legacy of the folly design of the western tier. I am stuck in the middle, between wanting to fight the powers that be, and going for the next best thing—AN AT GRADE INTERSECTION. The signals could be better timed for pedestrians than a SPUI with all its hot right turns and sitting duck islands. I wish it could dump traffic on Parklawn instead of Veirs Mill. Then the last leg through the woods can be avoided. That would enable a ped and bike path to lead to the Pike, and it would open a crossing over the RR tracks for those who wish to do that, while keeping Randolph open. Most of the dangers of the RR crossing comes from idiot drivers stopping under the gates, or on the tracks waiting for lights to change, anyway. I see it all the time when I walk over them. These are most likely the same squirrely drivers that would not watch for pedestrians at a grade separated interchange at Parklawn. For this road to end at Veirs Mill is crazy—and this makes me think that the protection of Matthew Henson State Park (which was originally going to be the connection for the ICC or similar) is not being taken seriously. We can get rid of some of this over-engineered design and trade it in for improvements for cars and pedestrians/bikers alike without this grand scope of a project.It is a typical manifestation of too many hands in the till—-much like the Silver Spring Transit Center—only road style. This is not progressive! We want true, thoughtful, futuristic community planning, customized to get people out of their cars. We do not want a BYPASS from the 1950’s in our neighborhood that does not encourage this. So what do we do, fight it completely, or make sure some archaic design does not snake in under us while we are fighting? Got me. For those interested, watch the rubber stamp that the planning board gave this interchange in 2013, against the recommendations of their own staff—Yay Casey Anderson for being a voice of reason and wanting further alternatives! Fast forward to about 4:57 http://mncppc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1027 Thank you for sending in your concerns before Thursday!

Amy Ginsburg says: August 8, 2015 at 11:39 am

Lori —

That’s a helpful history lesson, and it’s especially wonderful to hear from someone who lives adjacent to the proposed Montrose Parkway East. Thank you for all your time and help.

Amy

Lori.P says: August 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

No problem. Yes, the history is interestingly checkered and fortified…the other consideration is what I call “The Bates Motel Malady”, meaning that if a bypass is built instead of an intersection, small businesses will suffer. Of course we hope that there are no Normans around, but if the developers have plans for White Flint Sector 2, then having an intersection would possibly encourage people to get off there, maybe on the way home, to patronize the businesses. This is less likely if there is a straight through overpass. The carbon emissions would probably be a wash as there will be faster traffic on the overpass, and that emits more carbon. Waiting for lights also emit, but the traffic will be somewhat slowed down. I can see this parkway getting quite fast, maybe nearing 50, especially on the last leg, (if it’s built) and having a straight through will only encourage this. There will also be a curve at the end nearing Veirs Mill, with possible backed up traffic at the light. Bad for either of the designs. And for more interactive fun for those interested, here is the curve where the hot right crosswalk will be for an SPUI interchange on the books—right near the no trespassing sign. What ever could be the results of this sight distance study?? ( I hope the link shows up correctly) https://www.google.com/maps/@39.055662,-77.107311,3a,75y,262.91h,73.79t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sP8ILxCeJZuTpwsO7aRrHOA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Paul Meyer says: August 12, 2015 at 10:13 am

My name is Paul Meyer and I have been active on issues related to the redevelopment of White Flint for more than 5 years. I currently serve as the resident member on both the White Flint Implementation Committee and the White Flint Advisory Committee. I am writing as the community liaison for the Wisconsin Condominium where I have lived for more than 20 years.

Any project (such as the one that you are proposing) that helps move traffic through our already overcrowded and gridlock ridden vehicular area is greatly appreciated. The large majority of the residents in my Condominium doesn’t use bicycles and with the large number of seniors will not be abandoning their cars to switch to bicycles. The vehicular traffic in our area keeps growing with the new construction and yet I see very few bicycles on the road. With the increase in residential construction this problem will only grow.

We are tired of seeing those in control of the future of our area (most of whom don’t live here) push for more bicycles lanes so as to help their retail establishments. Woodglen is just one example of a vocal minority pushing for a ludicrous plan and getting their way. We don’t want to see any more Woodglen fiascos. I now try to avoid using that road if possible.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like any further information.

Lori.P says: August 13, 2015 at 11:32 am

@ Paul Meyer I understand the concerns of the many seniors in this area, as I am nearing a senior age myself, and I have actually been able to qualify for some senior discounts already 🙂 But the movement to incorporate better pedestrian and biking opportunities is in an early stage in this area, and it may start to ruffle some feathers. This is a futuristic plan, and the plan is not to discriminate against seniors in cars—-no one expects seniors to suddenly hop on a bike—but walking is still a possibility in many senior’s lives. My mom is 93, takes buses, and walks everywhere in Queens, NY. Yes, there are better resources there for this. Not everyone can do the same here, but if we make it better for some, that’s good, isn’t it? Further, if we get more people in general to walk or bike short distances, then eventually we CAN get more people off the roads, enabling a better traveling time for seniors. This movement is in its infant stage, but hopefully we can guarantee that it will prosper on its own in years to come. This is the future of mixed-use areas. We are not just the suburbs anymore. Granted the bike path at Woodglen takes a bit of navigating, and I admit, that intersection still needs some work.

I also would like to throw in, and not disrespectfully, that many seniors should consider using Metro Access or something similar. Just in the last few months, there have been some bad accidents where a person getting way up there in age was involved. I was almost hit by a car driven by a senior in our local Safeway recently, and was missed by about 15 feet, before the person smashed into the wall that I was just standing in front of. This can rattle a person, along with an incident on Parklawn where a woman sustained broken ribs from another senior crashing into her office window. The most tragic was the accident up near Veirs Mill , where a woman was killed when an elderly person for some reason cut across 3 lanes and hit her when she was walking on the sidewalk. This happened just last month.

It has not been proven that the driver’s age was the CAUSE of these incidents, but there was indication that there was a gas/accelerator confusion issue. All I am saying, is that there has to be some more self (and loved ones) monitoring any deviance from the norm, and being pro-active. I understand this can be a difficult loss of independence, and it is not very simple to do. There needs to be better transit in place for seniors, so that family members can help with the transition. This was a harrowing experience for me, and in no way am I prejudiced against the elderly driving if they are still fit to do so. The tricky part is knowing exactly when a difficult decision needs to be made when being responsibly cognizant is no longer the case. Since you are involved in the community, I wanted to give you an overview of how this problem has affected myself and others. Maybe I am an opportunist, but so be it.

We need better available transit for seniors and we need better alternatives for all. Cars are great, but we can’t expect them to be a constant companion in our lives forever.

Thank you for your ear.
Lori