Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Gazette published my letter to the editor that mentioned just a few of the missing infrastructure projects in Montgomery County (M-83 Mid-County Highway Extended, I-370 Outer Beltway Potomac River bridge, and the Rockville Freeway). It also gave a number of answers to the bottom line question on highway and transit construction: "How do we pay for it?" By the way, one road project that is nearly finished is Woodfield Road Extended in Damascus. I'll have more on that in the near future.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What is it?

Another Exclusive!!!

The Rockville Freeway, were it to finally be built, would be the first step towards a gridlock-free Montgomery County. Because the Rockville Freeway would serve the needs of existing residents and development (as opposed to "Smart Growth" projects that would allow more development, and urbanize residential neighborhoods), the road quickly fell out of favor with politicians and their financial backers in the development community.

But most people may ask, "What is the Rockville Freeway?"

The Rockville Freeway is a 6-8 lane, grade-separated freeway that would begin at I-270, along Montrose Road and the Montrose Parkway. It would be a controlled access, divided freeway, with a 55 mph speed limit. No traffic lights! One lane in each direction might be designated as a HOT lane to generate revenue through a private operator, if necessary.

The Rockville Freeway would replace the existing Parkway, traveling east under 355, veer from Randolph Road, and cross the CSX/Metro tracks.

Of course, there is an existing plan for the Montrose Parkway East: a cute little road, but a really bad project with only one redeeming quality: it is saving the right-of-way for the Rockville Freeway. And the Montrose Parkway has also presented us with a completed route underneath 355.

But the Montrose Parkway is too narrow, will be congested, and is simply too short. The end result is that traffic will be dumped into Aspen Hill and jam up local roads. That - combined with the colossal traffic soon to result from the White Flint and Rockville Pike sector plans - is why we must build the more adequate Rockville Freeway.

After crossing the CSX tracks, the Rockville Freeway would follow the existing right-of-way reserved for it for decades under Veirs Mill Road, Connecticut Avenue (part of the cloverleaf interchange has already been built - Don't believe me? Check it out yourself!), and Georgia Avenue. Most of this is currently known as Matthew Henson State Park, which is actually just a freeway facility. At its furthest point east, the Rockville Freeway would connect with the ICC (MD-200) and the North Central Freeway ("North Central Freeway!? What's that?" Stay tuned!) at a Mixing-Bowl-esque interchange adjacent to the Indian Spring Country Club.

Decades down the road, this trio of freeways would essentially eliminate all traffic congestion in the Aspen Hill, Wheaton and Olney areas, just to name a few. I say decades, because that's how long it will take to finish all three.

There's more to the story of the Rockville Freeway, though!

The Rockville Freeway was initially planned to be the Outer Beltway. In addition to the right-of-way I already mentioned, the Rockville Freeway extended west along Montrose Road. I've examined land documents in the state archives (many of these are available online) that illustrate the parcels purchased for the road. In 1971, for example, land was acquired so interchanges could be built at Seven Locks and Falls Road in Potomac. By this time, the Outer Beltway had been moved north to I-370 (in theory, so far). But had the Rockville Freeway been the Outer Beltway, it was to cross the Potomac River at Riverbend and connect to the Fairfax County Parkway (they actually build their roads in Virginia - the Fairfax County Parkway is literally the Virginia counterpart of the Rockville Freeway). Then the Outer Beltway would have crossed the Potomac back into Southern Maryland, eventually looping back into Montgomery County.

Another day, I will talk about the Outer Beltway that is in our future. But for now, I leave you to contemplate a bold step forward in transportation: the Rockville Freeway. This road will reduce congestion, provide freeway access to residents and commuters in Aspen Hill (without the urbanization that would result from Bus Rapid Transit), and attract high-paying jobs to Montgomery County.

I'm looking forward to one day being able to zip over to the Aspen Hill Shopping Center and Kmart in minutes. Better living through better driving. On the Rockville Freeway.

Stay tuned for more news and comment on the Rockville Freeway, I-370 Outer Beltway (which could also carry a Metro line to connect the Shady Grove Metro station to the Dulles Airport Metro "Silver Line"), M-83 (Mid-County Highway Extended), and the North Central Freeway.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Watch my speech before the Rockville Planning Commission, about 45 minutes into the following video: