Last night Sigurd Neubauer, Friends of White Flint board member, testified at the City of Rockville Hearing on the possible widening of Route 355 to 252 feet. His testimony, and a couple of lovely photos that show he’s working to pass the advocacy torch on to the next generation, are below.
Councilmembers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Sigurd Neubauer and I represent Friends of White Flint, a nonprofit organization with 1,350 supporters whose only mission is to ensure that the promise of the White Flint Sector Plan is fulfilled. I am on the board of Friends as a representative of the business community as My wife, Dr. Hannah Yecheskel, is the owner & founder of All Eyes on Rockville, – and don’t you just love that name?! All Eyes on Rockville is a full-service optometry practice located on Rockville Pike and right across from the ongoing construction of the phase two of Pike and Rose.
These are indeed exciting times for the Pike District, its surrounding communities and local businesses.
As you know, the Pike District/White Flint area is transforming into a walkable, transit-friendly, live-work-play community. As you also know, boundaries are artificial, and to residents, shoppers, and office workers, there is no boundary between the area of Route 355 in the Pike District and the portion that falls under City of Rockville jurisdiction. They view it as one continuous community. Everyone who has an interest in creating a vibrant community that fosters growth and livability must act in concert. We must work together to ensure that the Pike becomes a road that unites the east and west sides of Route 355 and unites the areas north and south of Montrose Road. None of us wants the Pike to become a vast plain of asphalt that separates rather than connects.
The City’s proposal to widen Route 355 to 252 feet is dramatically different than the plan for Route 355 south of Montrose Road where it will be 181 feet wide. The bottleneck that will be created as people walk, drive, and bike south from downtown Rockville to the Pike District will be one that will quickly assume legendary stature as lanes shift and disappear. A traffic and safety problem of that magnitude will greatly diminish the communities and businesses north of Montrose as well as those in the Pike District.
These factors may also negatively impact our business. Therefore, “we want walkable streets and easy access to transit” is the cry heard from businesses and residents. Widening Route 355 to 252 feet will dramatically impede not only the appearance of walkability but also the actual ability to walk across and along Rockville Pike. It is logical to assume that if there is sufficient room to include broad sidewalks, bike paths, bus rapid transit lanes, and car lanes on a 181-foot-wide Route 355 as it passes through the Pike District, there is sufficient room for all of those essential components north of Montrose Road.
The Friends of White Flint very much hopes that the City of Rockville will choose walkability, consistency, and stability and not widen Route 355 to 252 feet. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.