County Negotiates With State Highway On New White Flint Street Grid
From Bethesda Now – By Aaron Kraut
A new, more urban and walkable street grid in White Flint is almost ready for presentation to the public, after some wrangling with the State Highway Administration over its design.
Dee Metz, the Montgomery County's White Flint Implementation Coordinator, told two groups of residents, developers and other stakeholders this week that the county hopes to present the plans for the new street network, called the western workaround, at the June meeting of the Implementation Committee.
There is $98 million worth of transportation design and construction programmed into the county's FY13-FY18 capital budget for road projects in the western section of the White Flint Sector, including the new east-to-west Market Street that will connect Old Georgetown Road to a realigned Executive Boulevard.
The new section of Executive Boulevard will be built through the parking lot of the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center and cross Old Georgetown Road into the Pike & Rose development, now under construction at Mid-Pike Plaza.
Metz said the road design got held up several months as the county worked to get SHA to agree on fewer turn lanes and other design features more conducive to the walkable, pedestrian-friendly atmosphere county planners and developers seek for White Flint.
"The situation is the state does have a lot of influence over it. They typically have to approve any of our intersections with state roads," Metz said on Monday at the Implementation Committee meeting. "We didn't just want to go ahead and roll over and do what the state wanted us to do. Even though the design has been held up, we're still on schedule to make it to the same construction timeline that we've had in the CIP program all along."
Metz and Evan Goldman, from Rockville-based developer Federal Realty, indicated the SHA was more interested in a design that would move the most cars.
"The state has really dug in on certain principles that are really antithetical to urbanism," Goldman said. Federal Realty is building the mixed-use Pike & Rose project.
Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike are state roads.
"They wanted eight-inch curbs. We want six-inch curbs. They're showing cycle tracks, but we want buffers. These are the comments that we're giving to them," Metz said. "I think we're making progress even though as I said this is somewhat a new way of approaching development."
Photo via Friends of White Flint