Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Montrose Parkway East gets nod

Despite blessing of council panel, timetable for construction still uncertain

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A County Council committee last Thursday recommended funding the construction of the second half of Montrose Parkway, the portion east of Rockville Pike, but a firm timetable on when money will be available to acquire all of the land and to build it remains uncertain.

The county hopes to acquire the land by fiscal 2011 and finish construction in fiscal 2014.

The four-lane Montrose Parkway East would connect Parklawn Drive in Rockville to Veirs Mill Road in Aspen Hill at a cost of $51.3 million.

County officials hope the parkway will relieve congestion for motorists traveling from Interstate 270 to areas east of Rockville Pike.

A portion of Montrose Parkway West, designed to connect I-270 to Rockville Pike, is already open, but the entire roadway will not be completed until 2009, Deputy Council Staff Director Glenn Orlin said.

But the ‘‘thorniest issue” facing Montrose Parkway East, Orlin wrote in his memo, is that the county Planning Board has recommended that language be included in the Fiscal 2009-2014 Capital Improvements Program, stating that the parkway not proceed to construction until the State Highway Administration fully funds a grade separation project where Montrose Parkway would meet the CSX railroad tracks, just east of Rockville Pike.

The state’s timetable for funding that project would determine the timetable for funding Montrose Parkway East.

The county executive and the County Council have listed that project as ninth on its priority list given to the state.

During the Transportation and Environment Committee worksession Thursday morning, Councilwoman Nancy M. Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park, Councilman George L. Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park and Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring, members of the committee, agreed to look into re-evaluating that list this summer.

Floreen said Friday she is ‘‘hopeful” the county would be able to work with the state.

‘‘We have to look at what they can contribute and what we can contribute,” she said.

Floreen added that she thinks the parkway will be beneficial to all county residents.

‘‘It’s not just for cars, it’s for bikers, too,” she said, ‘‘and people if they want to walk.”

The project is being designed with a hiker-biker trail on the north side and a sidewalk on the south side, Orlin reported.

County Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park said Friday afternoon that he is opposed to funding the project now.

‘‘I think it’s unnecessary to do right now because there’s no connection to Montrose Parkway West,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, it competes for money that could be put to better use funding other projects that would ‘‘better serve the community,” such as building the proposed county Judicial Center annex in Rockville or erecting new community centers.

On the east side of Rockville Pike, the parkway would follow the right-of-way that had been set aside for the so-called Outer Beltway, cross over Rock Creek and follow a section of Gaynor Road that is not frequently used, according to a memorandum from Orlin to the council’s Transportation and Environment Committee.

At the east end, the parkway would connect to the northern segment of Gaynor Road, a block-long street between Dewey and Veirs Mill roads.

Six single-family houses on one side of Gaynor Road and a neighboring house on Dewey Road would have to be removed because the parkway would be widened to seven lanes.

Orlin said Montrose Parkway East and other transportation projects are slated to go to the full council for its consideration Tuesday. If approved, it would be in the fiscal 2009-2014 Capital Improvements Program, which is scheduled for final approval in May.