Yeah, the City of Rockville is north of the White Flint area, but we’re joined in spirit and by Route 355 which is why I want to share the City’s recently-released plan for Route 355. Here are some highlights (since I assume most of you don’t have time to read the 140 page report.) Essentially, the City of Rockville wants to transform a two-mile section of Route 355 into a 252-foot wide boulevard, with 12 car lanes, BRT, and bikeways.
This post contains only facts and figures; Friends of White Flint’s opinion will come later. To that end, what do you think of this plan? Please add your comments to this post.
Regional projections indicate that there will be approximately 11,460 residents and 13,000 jobs in the Plan Area by 2040, compared to about 3,500 residents and 9,000 jobs in 2014.
The Plan Area contains approximately 382 acres, on both sides of and including a 1.98-mile portion of Rockville Pike. It is bounded on the north by Richard Montgomery Drive and on the south by the City’s corporate limits, near Bou Avenue. Boundaries on the western side include Wootton Parkway, the Woodmont Country Club and East Jefferson Street. The eastern boundary is the Metrorail right-of-way.
The Rockville’s Pike public process led to the identification of a set of corridor planning principles that have guided the formulation of this plan. They are:1) Livable, desirable environment enhanced by thoughtful urban design, 2) multimodal transportation, and 3) economic vitality.
Principal land use policies of this plan include the following: 1. Seek to ensure a comfortable and functional relationship between public infrastructure and the private built environment, 2. Require buildings to be adjacent to sidewalks, 3. Regulate building height by location, 4. Create smaller blocks, 5. Provide wide and pleasant sidewalks, 6. Enhance the pedestrian environment overall and especially at strategic intersections and on strategic streets, 7. Ensure a mix of uses, 8. Ensure adequacy of public facilities 9. Encourage enduring, human-scale architecture that has visual interest, 10. Provide parks, 11. Require the creation of public use space through redevelopment, 12. Promote development which, at a minimum, does not degrade existing environmental conditions, and 13. Strategically locate and right-size parking.
The key purpose of the main lanes of the proposed multi-way boulevard is to carry faster-moving and non-local auto traffic, as well as local buses. Features of the primary roadway are listed below:
Approximately 52 feet of right-of-way width for a two–directional Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in the center of the Pike with medians on either side for BRT stations and automobile left turn lanes, which widens the overall curbto-curb crossing distance of the primary roadway by about 36 feet. Medians provide refuge for pedestrians crossing the Pike. The 52 feet could be used as a wide median or for additional automobile lanes if the BRT line is not built, or until it is built.
Three automobile travel lanes in each direction.
The outer curb lane is wider (12 feet) than the other two (11-foot) lanes to accommodate local buses.
Local buses travel in the central roadway (per Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation preference, but consideration may be given to providing the local service in the access roads).
This infrastructure can all be built within the existing 120-foot State right-of-way.
The principal transportation policies are as follows: 1. Re-design and reconstruct Rockville Pike as a multi-way boulevard, 2. Expand the street network, 3. Adhere to the City’s Complete Streets Policy, 4. Optimize access to and use of public transit.
The key transportation element in the South Pike, on the east side, is extending Chapman Avenue north to one block beyond Congressional Lane and creating a grid connecting Rockville Pike and Chapman Avenue.
A north-south street is recommended west of the Pike, between the existing Jefferson Street and the Pike, which would continue through the Middle Pike to Edmonston Drive. Other streets would add connections between the east and west sides of the Pike and create smaller blocks. Congressional Lane is shown connecting Rockville Pike and Chapman Avenue extended, and a new street is proposed between Congressional Lane and Halpine Road.
The most important transportation element for the Middle Pike is the extension of East Jefferson Street from where it currently ends, just north of Congressional Lane, northward to Wootton Parkway.
There are no recommendations for added street grid on the east side of the Middle Pike because of the narrowness of this portion of the Plan Area.
The primary street addition in the North Pike is a two-lane extension of Fleet Street to connect Wootton Parkway and Mt. Vernon Place.
The plan also recommends limiting new residential buildings to seven floors and new commercial or office buildings to 10 floors, a far cry from the 300-foot maximum building heights allowed by the county’s 2010 White Flint Sector Plan, which applies to a section of Rockville Pike just south of the city border.
Bethesda Beat wrote a great piece on this plan which you can read here.