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Votes

Potomac’s Roads: Treacherous with Cut-Through Traffic

President's Letter

This area of Montgomery County is unlike any other in the County in terms of its green space, wooded stream valleys – and, yes – the slow roads that wind through wooded areas and cross stream valleys. The Rustic Road Program reflects the unique environmental character of our region. Unfortunately, the program is facing increasing pressure from both inside and outside our communities to change.

There are a number of roads listed as Rustic with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Unfortunately, many of these roads in our area are used as cut-throughs by commuters who have little or no regard for the speed limit, much less the status of the road. Because of their status, these roads are protected from being widened, straightened, or otherwise streamlined to carry more traffic.

The 2001 Potomac Subregion Master Plan states that the Rustic Roads Program was developed, in part to protect the sylvan nature of the Subregion’s roads, particularly in Watts Branch Glen where Glen Road intersects with Glen Mill and South Glen roads. The Master Plan notes that the traffic volume and accident history of these roads would typically exclude them from rustic road designation. The traffic volume is not caused by increased development in the immediate vicinity, but by traffic congestion during morning and evening rush hour along I-270, prompting commuters to look for alternate routes. Through the years, these commuters, many of whom come from Germantown and further points North, have switched to using our country roads and rustic roads as their main routes for getting to and from work. This is a disturbing trend, and one that needs to be addressed.

These roads have become terribly unsafe for children who want to bike to their friend’s house, for moms and kids who want to walk the dog, for anyone wanting to take a short stroll down the road. It has even become treacherous for many of us who live along these cut-throughs to retrieve the mail. The answer, of course, is not to decrease the number of roads designated Rustic, but to give the Rustic Road classification some teeth.

We also need to reconsider the criteria that must be met before a neighborhood can receive speed-calming devices. Even if a particular road generates the kind of traffic volume that meets or exceeds the criteria, and virtually all of the neighbors support the installation of round-abouts, stop signs, speed bumps, or other speed-calming devices, there are certain criteria the County has established that preclude a neighborhood from getting on the County’s waiting list for such devices. We hope to address these and other issues when Mr. Holmes speaks at the December WMCCA general meeting, and we invite you to bring your transportation and public works concerns to Mr. Holmes’ attention as well.

Planning and Zoning – George Barnes

Special Exception, Falls Road – The hearing on the application for a special exception on Falls Road next to the Bank of America has been rescheduled for mid February. The postponement was requested by the applicant to allow time to comply with the requirements of the Park and Planning Commission staff. The application will have a hearing before the Planning Board prior to the Special Exception hearing.

WMCCA.org – Look on WMCCA’s website for the text of recent WMCCA testimonies before the County Council and Planning Board on proposed changes in county policies related to Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU’s) and Accessory Apartments.

WMCCA Special Project West Montgomery invites students who have done an outdoor science activity at a local site to show us their report, poster, collection, scout project, or science fair project. A WMCCA representative will be at the Potomac Library to review projects for an hour before the General Meeting each month (7 - 8 p.m.). Call Lois Williams, 301 299-7236.