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Village staff attended Wednesday evening’s public outreach meeting hosted by the Montgomery Planning Staff regarding the comprehensive re-write of the County’s Master Plan of Highways and Transitways. The meeting was attended by approximately 30 citizens, approximately 10 of which were residents of the Village. The Planning Staff’s presentation can be found at the following link by scrolling down to “Briefing Book”: http://montgomeryplanning.org/planning/transportation/highway-planning/master-plan-of-highways-and-transitways/ As reported in last week’s blast email, the primary local roadway of concern under the proposed revisions is the proposed reclassification of Brookville Road from a “primary residential” roadway to a “minor arterial”. Planning Staff reaffirmed that this proposed change was made to recognize the current use of Brookville Road which their analysis determined that over 50% of the vehicles are using the roadway as a through street. A “minor arterial” is defined as “a two-lane arterial meant nearly equally for through movement of vehicles and access to abutting property”. Although Wednesday’s meeting was intended to allow Planning Staff to report out on the proposed recommendations, the staff did accept comments and questions from the floor. Most of those in attendance commented regarding Brookville Road and urged that while the roadway may currently be operating as a “minor arterial” as that term is defined, the roadway was not intended or designed nor is it maintained as such. Rather, the roadway is viewed locally as a residential roadway that is being inundated with unintended and unsustainable traffic levels. Additionally, many noted that a larger effort should be made to address why much of the traffic that is using Brookville Road as a bypass to Connecticut Avenue are doing so. The backups at East West Highway and Connecticut Avenue was cited as a primary reason. Planning Staff did confirm that the Master Plan of Highways & Transitways is not an operational document and does not dictate any prescribed changes that may be made to a roadway. Rather, the county’s Department of Transportation—and in the case of Brookville Road, the State Highway Administration—assess what changes may be needed for a particular roadway regardless of its classification under the Master Plan. Nonetheless, the concern stated by those in attendance at the meeting as well as from residents who have contacted the Village office is that Brookville Road should not be reclassified and efforts should be made to help ease traffic along the roadway rather than classifying the current traffic levels as acceptable in the revised Master Plan. Village Board PositionThe Village Board is preparing a letter that will be sent to the Chair of the Planning Board urging that the “primary residential” classification for Brookville Road be maintained and urging the removal of Grafton Street from the plan’s scope as the roadway does not fall under county oversight or control (the Planning Staff has already acknowledged that Grafton Street was not intended to be added under this effort in the same way that all roadways within the corporate limits of the cities of Gaithersburg and Rockville were left out). Additional Public Outreach MeetingsThere are three remaining Public Outreach Meetings being held across the county, including:
Informational WebsiteBelow is a link to the website that has been created regarding the proposed changes: http://montgomeryplanning.org/planning/transportation/highway-planning/master-plan-of-highways-and-transitways/ How to Submit CommentsComments are being accepted through October 27, 2017. Residents can submit comments directly through the interactive map on the Montgomery Planning website at: http://www.mcatlas.org/mpohtcomments/ or by mail to:
Montgomery County Planning Boardc/o Mr. Casey Anderson, Board Chair8787 Georgia AvenueSilver Spring, MD 20910
The Planning Staff will present its recommendations to the Planning Board in November (date TBD).
The Montgomery Planning Department is in the process of updating its Functional Master Plan called the “Master Plan of Highways and Transitways”. This is the first comprehensive update to the plan since 1955. The plan is being updated to incorporate the various Master Plans that have been adopted by the County Council in recent years as well as to reflect the roadway designations pursuant to the county’s “Road Code”, which provides the roadway classifications and corresponding design guidelines (last updated in 2013). Among the 129 proposed changes to the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways are reclassifications to the following roadways in or abutting the Village:
Changes to the Western Avenue and Grafton Street ClassificationsVillage Manager Ms. Shana Davis-Cook has been in communication with the lead Planning Board staffer regarding the above reclassifications. The Village has no objection to the proposed removal of Western Avenue from the plan’s scope. In turn, Grafton Street and all references to it should be removed from the plan as the county has no jurisdiction or oversight of this roadway. Changes to the Brookville Road ClassificationBrookville Road’s reclassification is a result of its current and anticipated continued use. Under the Planning Staff’s review, any roadway where 50% or more of the vehicles are not seeking destinations along the specific span of roadway are being reclassified as “minor arterial”, which is defined as “a two-lane arterial meant nearly equally for through movement of vehicles and access to abutting property”. As a minor arterial, Brookville Road would receive increased priority response for things such as snow removal, removal of roadway obstructions and maintenance. The reclassification does not dictate any changes in use, however, some neighboring communities have expressed concern that the reclassification could make open the possibility of public buses being placed along the roadway. Ride On attempted to redirect buses to Brookville Road under a plan that was considered several years ago, under the roadway’s current “primary residential” classification. This effort was averted in response to objections voiced by the abutting communities. The Planning Board staff urges that there are no current plans to place buses or make any other physical or use changes to Brookville Road under the proposed reclassification. The roadway is currently—and would remain—under the control of the State Highway Administration (SHA). The reclassification would not have any effect on the current truck restrictions, which were established by SHA at the request of the abutting communities. Ms. Davis-Cook is working with the County’s Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration to learn what, if any, practical effect the reclassification might have on the design, maintenance and use of Brookville Road. Public Outreach MeetingsThe Planning Staff has scheduled five Public Outreach Meetings to be held throughout the county next week. The local meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 13 from 7-9 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, Room West A, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda. This meeting will cover the entire slate of proposed recommendations and will not be limited to the Bethesda/Chevy Chase portions of the plan. TimelineThe Planning Staff’s originally proposed recommendations, along with any submitted comments from concerned residents and organizations, and any Planning Staff proposed changes to its original proposal will be submitted to the Planning Board in November (date TBD). Following the initial staff presentation in November, the Planning Board will hold one or more Public Hearings (depending upon the level of interest). The Planning Board’s final adopted recommendations will be transmitted to the County Council in early 2018, at which time the Council will hold a separate set of Public Hearings. If the tentative schedule holds, the revised plan is anticipated to receive final County Council action in August 2018. Informational WebsiteBelow is a link to the information page that has been created regarding the proposed changes, which includes an interactive map where comments can be left regarding specific roadways: http://montgomeryplanning.org/planning-department-launches-digital-interactive-map-to-inform-public-about-updates-to-master-plan-of-highways-and-transitways/