Capital Crescent Trail/Little Falls Parkway Crossing – Concerns to be Expressed to County Officials

This post/page contains the following:

  1. A heads up regarding what is about to happen to the Little Falls Parkway & Capital Crescent Trail and how it will affect Hillandale Rd residents.
  2. A draft email for residents to send to County officials
  3. A report on the permanent reconfiguration including illustrations and the problems associated with this design.

1.

ALERT – PERMANENT TRAFFIC CONSTRICTION PROPOSED LITTLE FALLS PARKWAY/CAPITAL CRESCENT TRAIL

June 3, 2019

Please refer to the report below (item #3).  It strongly objects to the proposed plan for the permanent reconfiguration of the intersection of the Capital Crescent Trail and Little Falls Parkway.  This permanent alteration will be voted on by the Planning Board on June 13th, and has the endorsement of both the Parks Department and the Planning Department. 

The objection is on the following grounds:

  • The process of arriving at this alternative involved only one organized body, bicyclists. The many thousands of resident motorists using the Little Falls Parkway have not had a voice.
  • The traffic studies on which this is based took into account only current traffic, not future traffic resulting from the very substantial growth of both Bethesda and Westbard
  • The proposed alternative is not the safest, and in fact creates a more dangerous situation for residents on Hillandale Rd. as traffic is diverted to Hillandale Rd., a densely populated residential area.
  • The cost is excessive at a time when the County budget is tight

If you concur with the report, please email the draft letter below (item #2 – or your own) to County officials.

2.

Suggested Email for Residents to Send to County Officials

To:

cc:

Re: Capital Crescent Trail/Little Falls Parkway Crossing & Permanent Lane Closures

I object to the permanent lane closures on Little Falls Parkway.

The densely populated Hillandale Rd. residents are endangered by diverted traffic whereas the customarily used Arlington Rd. has no residents and is wooded.

Crossing at the Arlington Rd./Little Falls Parkway light is safest for both pedestrians and bicyclists

Little Falls Parkway is a primary route to downtown Bethesda. To constrict traffic by lane closures without taking into consideration the very substantial growth of Bethesda and of Westbard defies common sense.

Sincerely,

 

For ease of mailing – simply copy the address blocks shown below and paste into your email address lines.

To:

Marc.Elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov;Claire.Iseli@montgomerycountymd.gov; MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org

CC to:

Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Glass@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov; Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov

These addresses direct emails to the County Executive, Planning Dept., Parks Dept., and Councilmembers.

3.

Situation Report – Capitol Crescent Trail – Little Falls Parkway Crossing

June 2, 2019

The proposed permanent modification to the Capitol Crescent Trail (CCT) crossing of Little Falls Parkway (LFP) will be presented to the planning board for approval on June 13.

We continue to take issue with Montgomery Parks selected alternative for the CCT/LFP crossing and the process used to make the selection. The alternative preferred by Montgomery Parks is to make the current “road diet” permanent with removal of one lane of Little Falls Parkway in each direction.

We object: Our strong preference based on safety and cost is to route the CCT from near the point where currently intersects Little Falls Parkway to the traffic light at Arlington Road.

  • At that point bicyclists and pedestrians can cross safely at the traffic light with minimal inconvenience.
  • The four roadway lanes of Little Falls Parkway would remain intact.
  • Cost for Road Lane removal and conversion into grassland/parkland is eliminated.
  • The rerouting of the CCT is minimal with minimal tree removal. (See Exhibit 1)
  • LFP is a principal route for access to downtown Bethesda from communities lying to the south and west of Massachusetts Ave.
  • LFP connects two areas that are experiencing rapid growth: Westbard’s redevelopment and the redevelopment of substantial portions of downtown Bethesda. It makes no sense to constrict a primary route of access when that route is clearly going to experience increased usage. The proposal is shortsighted – it takes no account of the obvious long term situation.

Process for Inclusion of Public Opinion: Little Falls Parkway is a heavily used route to access downtown Bethesda for many in the region. The temporary “road diet” currently in place was installed without notice to the public. No signage or notices were posted in that location to advise motorists that a permanent change was being contemplated.  The only organized body of opinion weighing in on the situation consisted of bicyclists.

Safety:  The Montgomery Parks rationale for proceeding with its preference is twofold:

  • Improve safety for Capitol Crescent Trail pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the Falls Parkway
    • However, the problem with the “road diet” is that a significant amount of traffic is diverted to Hillandale Road from Little Falls Parkway and Arlington Rd. From a safety point of view this makes no sense at all since Hillandale Road is heavily populated and Arlington Road for a considerable distance from Little Falls Parkway toward Bethesda has no residences whatsoever. (See Exhibit 2)
    • A significant amount of traffic is also diverted through Kenwood to Bradley Blvd., e.g., Highland to Chamberlain to Kennedy to Bradley, and also Dorset Ave., to Kennedy Dr., to Bradley Blvd.  Increasing this cut through traffic is hazardous to Kenwood residents.
    • The preferred solution does little to address the current unsafe and uncontrolled pedestrian and bicyclist crossing of LFP.  The potential for an accident at the crossing remains.
  • Return that portion of the Falls Parkway to a park environment
    • This is puzzling since Montgomery Parks is constricting traffic in proceeding with a road diet to create a park environment for one block.  Much of that block is frontage for the public swimming pool. The result is that only a small 200 foot portion of Little Falls Parkway, a road that sees heavy use, is converted to a more parklike environment, leaving the rest of the Parkway untouched. This strikes us as a triumph of ideology over common sense.
    • The return of this meagre portion of highway to a park environment provides grass and woodland along the road but provides neither a setting nor the means for enjoyment other than visually when passing through. Given the miniscule amount of park, and that it cannot be enjoyed other than visually, to justify the “road diet” in order to provide a park environment is a stretch on rational thought.

Cost:  Montgomery Parks’ preference is projected to cost approximately $800,000. Given the amount of work to be done (including the projected “road diet” for Arlington Rd) we wonder if that may well be an underestimate.  Much of the projected cost is likely due to removal of two lanes of roadway and conversion into grassland.  Our preferred alternative incurs a minimal cost since it utilizes the already controlled intersection (the existing lights at the corner will need to be redone to reflect a crosswalk and on demand walk signal, which means that lights will likely need to be replaced) at Arlington Rd. and Little Falls Parkway.  It requires minimal tree removal, and does not require the removal of traffic lanes on the road with restoration parkland.

(See Exhibits Below)

EXHIBIT 1  COMMUNITY RECOMMENDED MODS. TO PARKS & PLANNING PREFERRED PLAN

ALTERNATIVE-COMMUNITY aerial CCT & Hillandale

EXHIBIT 2 PARK & PLANNING PREFERRED PLAN MUCH MORE DANGEROUS TO RESIDENTS.  TRAFFIC IS DIVERTED TO HILLANDALE RD., HEAVILY RESIDENTIAL, WHEREAS ARLINGTON RD. HAS NO RESIDENTS ABUTTING THE RIGHT OF WAY.

aerial CCT & Hillandale

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