So what WILL we do about Rockville Pike?

So what WILL we do about Rockville Pike?

Live blogging from the June 4 2009 worksession of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Live streaming video is available at www.montgomeryplanningboard.org.

Dan Hardy, head of the Vision Division and chief transportation planner, on coordination on Rockville Pike recommendations that have occurred since the May 21 worksession. What should the plan be? Recommendation to change centerline to existing plan, and reserve additional right of way to accommodate the Partnership Glatting Jackson plan.

First, original idea was to shift the centerline of the Pike easement to have a curb lane for transit and bikes, and on-street parking during off-hours. Partnership proposed transitway in the median. Same as in Georgia Avenue-Glenmont. 50′ median. Full-time on-street parking with bike lane, and space outside right of way for sidewalk elements of Pike. Our plan was 150′ right of way; Partnership was 162′ right of way, with additional improvements going out to 180′.

Comparisons: pedestrian tunnel area just north of Marinelli Rd. Maps on P. 19 of May 28 staff memo.

We are recommending shifting back to existing centerline. This would take additional right of way from both sides of the Pike. Areas where this is a real issue is south of Nicholson Lane. We’ll have a special design for the federal properties anyway. Recommended language on P. 15 and 21 of handout (May 28 memo).

We needed to clarify what we were trying to do with reconstruction of the Pike. Moving goods and people in all modes in a safe and efficient manner, providing connectivity for travel to, from, and through all Sector Plan neighborhoods and adjacent communities.┬áBalance long-distance needs with local uses. Needs to be an intensive design analysis during the first stage of implementation. First phase of staging. Then needs to have the right roads network. Need to solve the bus access needs of the Sector; that has been the focus for two years: how do we get people to and from the Sector on busses. The decision on whether a median transitway is right for the Pike is something that we won’t know for another year until the study that the Council has just approved on county-wide BRT network is finished. We have laid out plans for long-haul and feeder service. We need the right folks to buy into the Master Plan concept.

Questions about full-day, on-street parking because of volumes of traffic on Rockville Pike.

We believe the typical right of way for the Pike would be the 150′ we recommended int he Public Hearing Draft, but we want to reserve additional space because we may have, within a year, a different recommendation for the Pike. So we don’t have to come back and amend this Plan if the County decides to go with BRT.

Rita Mathews , State Highway Administration. In support of 162′ right of way. We would support county-wide BRT because of use of Rockville Pike. That study will help recommend what should be done there. Also should look at speed limits and parking uses. Need a continuity of speed limits throughout the Pike. Financial part of this; in order to move Pike forward, need a study to show it’s a priority. Hanson: would a study also look at east-west traffic on Montrose Parkway. Matthews, yes. Hardy, county-wide study will be done next year, but additional studies on the Pike. Need an SHA study to find out what county wants. By then we should have a Plan adopted by Council and we can begin looking at alternatives for the Pike. We need to coordinate with Rockville, because the State won’t use the Sector boundaries as the limits of their study.

Robin Macalvie, WMATA. We have buildings throughout the region built over Metro, so that’s not a problem, just need to check the engineering. Additional transit would help the Metrorail system. We just want to be at the table. Pedestrian tunnel; we are not opposed to that going away in the future. An asset now, but we would want it replaced with an outstanding pedestrian environment. We would want to look at that and what would replace it in the future.

Hanson: go back to existing centerline, and establish right of way of at least 150′ and up to 162′. Leave the final cross-section to the study. Everybody agrees with that. Cryor: financing? How does it break down? Matthews. Once study is done, county would move forward with any section of the Pike it wanted to go forward. We would need to identify funds. In the past, if it’s a huge county priority, the county puts up the funds for the study. So we’d have to identify the funds at that point. Anywhere from $2 to $12 million for a study. Just the planning studies.

Presley: are there studies of the user acceptance of median-based transit? Matthews: part of study. Hardy: we’d take what we know about BRT and apply it to this site. Georgia Avenue doesn’t need many stops, where K Street does. Some studies show curb lane transit is better because all the activity is focussed on the sidewalk. Like newstands, etc.

Barnaby Zall

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