Monday, October 31, 2011


Hi, I'm Conrad Bain, and this is a very special episode of Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row. A special Halloween episode.

Did you know there was once a Route 666 in Montgomery County? It's true. It passed through the Kensington Historic District. Maryland Route 666 appeared on old maps. The only information I could find about this road online was on a reference website called "MD Roads." It includes a very vague, brief description of MD 666 as encompassing Armory Ave., part of Howard Avenue, and St. Paul St., and mentions that Rt. 666 was the remnants of the old railroad crossing for then-Route 193.

But let me fill in some more detail: Old Route 193 was switched from an at-grade crossing of the B&O Metropolitan Line to a bridge crossing in 1936. Today, of course, we call this MD-185. Since the streets remained in use after the crossing was eliminated, the state renamed old 193 MD 666. Perhaps realizing that the route number was controversial, or as a simple cleaning up of unneeded routes in the state highway system, Maryland dropped the designation in the late fifties.

What remains scary today is not the ghost of Route 666, but the failure to build other roads smart planners deemed necessary for Kensington to grow. The old Kensington Master Plan process in the 1970s stalled out for a time for this reason. Planners specifically noted that the Rockville Freeway, Northern Parkway and North Central Freeway were mandatory to handle projected growth in Kensington, Wheaton, Olney and points beyond. MD 192 was to be widened and transformed into a feeder route for the North Central Freeway and Beltway at their interchange by Holy Cross Hospital. As you know, none of these critical highways was ever built.

A very ambitious new Kensington sector plan is now on the table. Unlike the past, no mention is made of new highway capacity, even though it calls for densities beyond those that past planners said would require new freeways. In fact, some are calling for traffic on Connecticut Avenue through downtown Kensington to be reduced in speed even further!

If you use that route, you know it can be at a standstill during rush hour as it is. So a slower speed than standing still? I didn't know there was a speed less than 0 mph. Now THAT'S scary!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

No comments: