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Improvements To Seven Locks Still Far Off

Residents unite to work for a safer neighborhood.

Seven Locks Road is essentially an old wagon trail which has been paved over, said Lori Peters, president of the Seven Locks Civic Association. “The line of sight is really poor,” Peters said. “We’re always hearing brakes screeching.”

The road has no sidewalks, no crosswalks and no turn lanes. “When people are making a left hand turn they go on the shoulder,” Peters said. Since there are no sidewalks, the shoulder is frequently where pedestrians, and schoolchildren walk to get to their bus stops. “We’ve even seen police officers passing on the right [on the shoulder].”

The stretch of road between Bradley Boulevard and Montrose Road is home to several schools, the Cabin John Mall, multiple churches, and a synagogue. Some Jewish people do not ride in vehicles on the Sabbath, so many walk along Seven Locks Road on Friday evenings to go to and from religious services.

“There’s a ton of schools, and no sidewalks, it makes no sense,” Peters said.

Peters and a group of Homeowner’s Association Heads and other community leaders formed the Seven Locks Civic Association to lobby for sidewalks and turning lanes along that stretch of road. At least 11 groups have joined forces and begun to meet with county officials.

“I think its a tribute to the community,” said Ken Hartman aide to Councilmember Howard Denis (R-1).

The association met with Denis in order to discuss their concerns.

“There are lots of individual requests by civic associations along Seven Locks Road,” said Esther Bowring, spokesperson for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and Public Works.

The Department is currently examining the different projects but is doing so with the idea that they will be combined into one, large project, Bowring said. “We have actually started thinking about them and doing some planning,” she said.

The Association is trying to get a sidewalk put in, and has managed to get it placed into the County’s Capital Improvements Program. However, the study for the project is not scheduled to start until FY ‘09, which begin on July 1, 2008.

The current project does not include the addition of turning lanes. “It doesn’t really make sense without the left-hand turn lanes,” Peters said.

The community supports the Master Plan which calls for retaining Seven Locks as a two-lane road. “The whole community is opposed to widening the road,” Peters said. Potomac’s two-lane road policy allows for widening at intersections for turn and acceleration lanes.

“Howie’s putting together a letter to [County Executive] Doug Duncan (D) to urge his continued support,” Hartman said of Councilmember Denis.

Studies can take more than a year, and then the project would need to find funding.

“What we’re trying to do is push it up,” Peters said.

However, projects toward the end of a Capital Improvements cycle, as this one is, often get pushed back. When the County’s budget is tight, as it is now, not all projects in the early years of a Capital Improvements Project get funded, The later projects are then shifted back, but typically maintain their place in the queue. “That keeps it in there and keeps it moving forward,” Hartman said.

“We want to make sure it gets done,” Peters said.