The White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee held its monthly meeting before a packed crowd Monday night at the Shriver Aquatic Center in Wall Park. The main topic of discussion was the Metro Pike Center development at Rockville Pike and Marinelli Road, which we’ll talk about in more detail later this week. Here’s what else was on the agenda:
– Chad Salganik has been appointed resident co-chair of the Implementation Advisory Committee. He’s currently the President and webmaster of the Randolph Civic Association. Congratulations, Chad!
– Dee Metz, White Flint Coordinator for the County Executive’s office, gave an update on the Western Workaround, a set of new streets and street improvements along the west side of Rockville Pike. The project would rebuild the intersection of Old Georgetown Road, Executive Boulevard and Hoya Street, which will cost about $37 million. It would also build 2 new streets between Marinelli and Old Georgetown Roads, dubbed Grand Park Avenue and Market Street, which would cost about $50 million.
An accompanying Eastern Workaround would extend Executive Boulevard east of Rockville Pike, behind a redeveloped White Flint Mall, then north to connect with Nebel Street. Both projects are at 35% design, which means there’s still a lot of details to be worked out.
Among the biggest issues with the Western Workaround is how the new streets will be designed. While the White Flint Sector Plan calls for Old Georgetown Road to be rebuilt as an urban street with wide sidewalks, bike lanes and just 2 car lanes in each direction, Montgomery County Department of Transportation officials basically want to keep it the same wide, fast road for now, then rebuild it again when more people start biking and walking.
“It’s not that they don’t want to do it right away, but there’s things we need to do before going forward,” said Metz.
But many people, including Councilmember Roger Berliner, say it would be cheaper and more in keeping with the plan’s goals to rebuild Old Georgetown once. Developer Federal Realty, which is building the Pike + Rose mixed-use project next to Old Georgetown Road, worries that the current design will hurt their vision and the community’s vision of an urban White Flint.
“I’ve got 6 leases signed with restaurants on Old Georgetown Road,” said Evan Goldman, vice president of development at Federal Realty. “I want outdoor cafes and street trees.”
Metz says that MCDOT has to find a compromise between those who want more pedestrian and bicycle facilities and those who are worried about car traffic. “We’re probably getting as many letters from people who want bike lanes,” she said, “as we are from people who say, what are you going to do about this traffic? We don’t need more bikes. It’s a balancing act.”
– County Executive Ike Leggett is hosting 5 forums this month to discuss the county’s capital improvements budget, which will set priorities for public construction projects over the next 6 years. If you’d like to see the Western Workaround and Eastern Workaround built sooner rather than later, this is your chance to let county officials know. Here’s the schedule:
Thursday, July 11 at the Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Road, Silver Spring
Thursday, July 18 at the Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring
Monday, July 22 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring
Tuesday, July 30 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda
Wednesday, July 31 at the BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Drive, Germantown
For more information, visit the county’s website.