Road projects to improve safety
Seven Locks Road, MacArthur Boulevard affected
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
County officials are planning road improvements, sidewalks and bikeways for several different streets in Bethesda and Potomac.
Seven Locks Road
Community members disagreed over a project to put sidewalks and bike lanes along Seven Locks Road at a meeting held by representatives from the Department of Public Works and Transportation on Thursday at The Heights School in Potomac.
The project, which is just in the early study stage now, is looking at adding pedestrian and cyclist facilities along a 3.25-mile stretch of Seven Locks Road between Montrose Road and Bradley Boulevard. The project also includes a portion of Montrose Road from Seven Locks Road to the Interstate 270 ramp.
It is meant to make it easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to travel along the road.
A possible design for the project could include an 8-foot wide shared-use path, an on-road bike lane, 12-foot travel lanes and a 5-foot wide sidewalk.
Cost estimates are not yet available for the project because no design decisions have been made.
While some neighbors said the pedestrian and bike paths are sorely needed, others said they were unnecessary.
‘‘There are people who walk to Cabin John Mall and they are in danger because there is no sidewalk,” said Leonard Schuchman, who lives along Seven Locks Road in Potomac. ‘‘It’s disgraceful that there’s not a sidewalk at least from Scotland to Cabin John Mall.”
On the other hand, Ronald Stern, who owns several properties along Seven Locks Road, said vehicular traffic is of greater concern.
‘‘I don’t think there’s a sidewalk necessary at all,” he said. ‘‘The shoulders are wide enough. I feel comfortable walking there. There is a much greater need for traffic improvements than pedestrian and bike improvements.”
County officials said they would take residents’ concerns into consideration and hold another public meeting in September to share plan concepts with the community.
The department also recently held a meeting to get community input on a plan to upgrade the bike facilities along MacArthur Boulevard between Interstate 495 and Oberlin Avenue.
Approximately 30 to 40 people attended the meeting on May 23 at Bannockburn Elementary School.
The project is meant to improve safety on the 2.5-mile section of MacArthur Boulevard, provide an off-road shared use path, provide an on-road bike lane and provide several spot safety improvements.
A concept of the plan calls for widening MacArthur Boulevard to 26 feet — two 10-foot lanes and two 3-foot paved shoulders — to accommodate both cars and cyclists.
MacArthur Boulevard is currently 22 feet —11 feet for two lanes of traffic — in most places, but is wider or narrower in some locations. At some points in the road, there is an existing off-road shared use path, while in others, there is a path next to the road or a paved shoulder for cyclists.
‘‘This project will provide consistent on-road bicycle facility throughout the limits, and a continuous off-road bicycle⁄pedestrian facility throughout the limits as well,” Department of Public Works and Transportation spokesman Tom Pogue wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette. ‘‘This accommodates the needs of experienced, on-road cyclists as well as recreational, off-road cyclists and pedestrians for the entire length of the project.”
Some of the spot improvements include lighting under the I-495 underpass, reconfiguring the parking in front of Captain’s Market at Tomlinson Avenue and Union Arch Bridge and reconfiguring access to the Clara Barton Parkway at Ericsson Road.
Some issues that residents raised at the meeting included traffic problems associated with the one-lane Union Arch Bridge, adding a better pedestrian connection between the bike path on Wilson Lane and the crosswalk adjacent the Union Arch Bridge and adding a right turn lane from MacArthur Boulevard to Wilson Lane, Pogue said.
The department is still in the planning process on the project and will determine the full scope and cost estimates this fall. After a preliminary design is completed, it will be presented to the County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee. If the project is authorized, a final design will begin in July 2010.