THIS MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED!!
As promised, here are the Friends of White Flint’s thoughts on the City of Rockville’s plan to widen Route 355 north of the city border to 252 feet wide. 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, sidewalks, on-street parking, BRT, and multiple bikeways. (Read about their plan here.)
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. 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.
“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.
Reimaagine Twinbrook is not affiliated with Friends, but we believe it’s worth sharing with you their campaign to stop the madness of widening Rockville Pike to 252 feet. Through Reimagine Twinbrook, you can:
Send a Letter to the Mayor and City Council: http://reimaginetwinbrook. com/support/
Sign their new petition: http://tinyurl.com/ Reject252RockvillePike
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.