Friday, March 11, 2016

Town of Somerset gives thumbs down to through lane on River Rd. at Little Falls Pkwy.

Putting aside the outrageously inaccurate traffic and intersection data in the Westbard sector plan draft, one project brought up by Montgomery County Council staff that wasn't even in the plan surprised residents who live near the affected intersection. That intersection, River Road at Little Falls Parkway, is one of the worst among several failing junctions along the heavily-traveled commuter route.

The draft Westbard plan contains not a single project to increase vehicle capacity on River Road, despite proposing to add 5000 more vehicles to it. But Council Deputy Adminstrator Glenn Orlin has proposed building a project that was called for in the Friendship Heights sector plan. It would create a third through lane westbound on River Road between Greystone Street and Butler Road. The problem is, it would end and dump traffic back into the remaining two lanes.

The Town of Somerset has now raised objections to the project, which has not yet been endorsed by the County Council PHED committee. Writing on behalf of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Z. Slavin, Town Councilmember Marnie Shaul told the Council that the third lane would create safety issues. Most notably, many Somerset residents need to use Greystone to reach River Road. Parents driving their kids to Westland in the morning often use Little Falls Parkway, which requires crossing the two westbound lanes of River to reach the left turn lane at the parkway. A third lane would make this more difficult, Shaul wrote.

Even a right turn lane being added would make it nearly impossible for Somerset residents to get in and out of their neighborhood during the evening rush, Shaul argued. Among other concerns of the town, are the impact of widening River on homes, and reduction of the new bike facilities proposed under the plan that would be required to add the lane.

This issue is like many brought up after the public process was finished: the plan to turn the Little Falls Library into an apartment building, the plan to dump massive amounts of countywide-serving low-income housing into a two block area at Westbard, etc. As Shaul wrote, "The Town of Somerset was surprised by this proposal, which had not been discussed during the Westbard planning process." Sounds familiar!

While a third lane all the way down River Road from Ridgefield Road into the District at Wisconsin Avenue would have real benefit, this short stub being proposed is likely to cause more backups than it helps. You might as well have the full bike facilities along River in that case. My suspicion is that the project was put into the Friendship Heights plan to provide some more phantom capacity for development up there. In practice, the road will be just as jammed with it as without.

The PHED committee will take up this, and many other issues, on Monday.


Anonymous said...

The distance between Greystone and Butler Rd is two blocks, a short two blocks. I don't understand any benefit of a road in this area or even where there is any open space to build it. The entrance/exit to Somerset on River Road is already very problematic and dangerous with DC Nascar drivers rarely giving an inch to those residents.

Additionally, further eminent domain should absolutely Not Be Allowed on River Road for the sake of Westbard Urbanization, Equity One & their developer friends....

The current living, walking, and driving problems on River Road are a continous nightmare and getting worse for all residents of Green Acres, Glen Cove, Friendship Hts, etc.
This stretch of road is one of the 10 busiest in MOCO and already at capacity.

Trump said...

There appears to be alot of deception between what the County Council, Planning Board, and community organizations are addressing and attempting to resolve regarding the New Westbard, and what major projects are Really in the Works???

This part of Somerset is outside of the Westbard Plan, south of Little Falls Pkwy and was a "surprise" to one of its own community leaders. Seriously, is this what Urbanization is? What purpose does a 2 block road do other than destroy what few trees and little grass we have left? This area has been 100% completely built up for over 50 years. There is no more room...Hello, are you listening, earth to MOCO.

Our elected officials are not being honest and upfront with major construction projects effecting thousands of residents and commuters for months and years at a time.

We need this madness to STOP immediately, everything halted ASAP as the Sumner resident suggested, more information and Facts presented to the community! Everything needs to be laid out Everything, no more surprises jammed down our throats!

Remember, We were here First and We will have the final say.

Trump2 said...

Agree, Anonymous and Trump!! Since when did the Westbard Plan include all the way down River Road??!! This is being done in a deceptive way, without informimg the residents who live along River Road. Traffic along River is horrendous, with frequent deadly car and pedestrian accidents stop this secretive planning without including the residents --- some who have been here more than 50 Years!!!!!