Picture Route 355 from about Montrose Road north to downtown Rockville. Now picture it a lot wider. Last week, the City of Rockville voted 4 to 1 in a straw poll to widen Route 355 in this two-mile stretch to 252 feet. (That’s the width of an interstate highway, to put it in perspective.) Walkability and green space will be the losers if that’s what happens to Rockville Pike north of the Pike District.
So why do we care about Twinbrook and Rockville? As we all know, boundaries are artificial. The City’s stretch of Route 355 abuts the Pike District, and there’s a good chance that some of this section will one day feel like it is part of the Pike District to residents and visitors. How sad it would be to have the easy walkability ensured by the White Flint Sector Plan end abruptly as Route 355 dramatically widens.
The width of Route 355 in the Pike District is 161 feet plus ten feet on either side for sidewalks for a total of 181 feet. So pretend you’re driving south on the Pike from Rockville. You’re cruising along and then come to dead stop because as you approach the bridge over Montrose Parkway, you need to merge all those lanes into just three in each direction in what would one day be a notorious bottleneck. The 181 foot width in the Pike District is sufficient for car traffic, bike lanes, rapid transit, and sidewalks, so there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t be enough in the City of Rockville portion.
A group called Reimagine Twinbrook and Rockville Pike is actively opposing widening the Pike to 252 feet, They are meeting tonight, Monday, March 3 at Pizza CS, 1596 Rockville Pike, if you want to learn more. You can also visit their website, reimaginetwinbrook.com/ to gain a greater understanding of this issue. We believe in transparency and fairness, so if you want to understand the City’s point of view, you can click here.