The enhancement of the street grid throughout White Flint is going to both improve connectivity and act to diffuse traffic that presently has fewer travel options. We’ve written extensively about the planned Western Workaround, which will straighten Executive Boulevard on the west side of Rockville Pike and add new Market Street. But, yesterday, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee heard an update on a road project scheduled for the east side of the Pike that will extend Chapman Avenue.
Bruce Johnston, the Chief of MCDOT’s transportation engineering division, presented the plans for this big project that has been important to many who live in and around the area. As you can see from the map below, the extension of Chapman Avenue will stretch from Old Georgetown Road to Randolph Road, with a couple of sharp turns in between. It will run, essentially, parallel to Nebel Street and Rockville Pike, providing alternate routes for both and breaking up a huge chunk of land that previously offered no thru-routes.
Here are the technical bits on the project: The total right-of-way for this new road is 70 feet. Forty of those feet will be the road itself, with 12ft travel lanes and 8ft parking lanes on each side. There will be 6 – 8 feet of grass and tree buffer between the road and the 5-foot sidewalks. To improve pedestrian appeal, the road will be well-lit by 12-foot tall poles, topped with attractive glass globes. Although the existing southern portion of Chapman has brick sidewalks, Johnston notes that these will be concrete. Bikes will travel in the traffic lanes and the road is designed with a speed limit of 30 MPH. The projected average daily traffic on this stretch is 450 vehicles per day and the northern terminus of the project, at Chapman and Randolph Road, will be a signalized full intersection leading into Montrose Crossing Shopping Center.
As you can see from the image below (which I took from Google Maps before adding the blue line – Bruce Johnston has a much lovelier and technically accurate version that I will share when I obtain), there was a significant amount of property along this route that the County had to acquire to proceed. That process is nearly complete and it’s expected that demolition of the necessary buildings will begin this summer. The next step will be to begin moving utilities, including stormwater management, underground. From there, the road project itself will be put out for bids, hopefully late this fall or early next winter.
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, then you know that there is legislation pending in Montgomery County that will amend our urban road code to, among other things, narrow travel lanes to 10 feet in width. This would, obviously, derail this project which contemplates 12-foot lanes. We’ve learned, though, that this bill is in a holding pattern while a multi-disciplinary working group convenes to determine the best way to proceed. As we’ve highlighted, concerns exist about the “blanket approach” of the bill, especially as it comes to lane widths and turning radii. The philosophy that has been guiding Complete Streets models in other cities, like Boston, has been to really custom design the roads for the anticipated users. In any event, the 12-foot travel lanes are not expected to be a problem as designed here. In fact, they’re considered necessary with such sharp turns in the road design.
A related project is the mixed-use White Flint fire station planned for, essentially, the property south of Randolph Road between Chapman Extended and Rockville Pike. The fire station will be joined on the property by affordable housing for seniors and offices for the entity that will manage White Flint’s downtown urban district. Property acquisition for this is still in process but the hope is that the whole project will be complete by 2020.
Both the buildout of Chapman Extended and the White Flint fire station are projects proposed for funding in the County’s Capital Improvements Budget. Think they’re important? Check out all of the White Flint-related projects that are up for funding, and find instructions on how to weigh in and let the county know your thoughts by clicking here.