Montgomery County is considering options for a permanent change to the Capital Crescent Trail crossing at Little Falls Parkway. Here’s where the project stands, according to Greater Greater Washington:
“In June 2018, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Parks Service presented a large range of possible permanent alternatives for this trail crossing. Based on data assessment, modeling, and public input, they have narrowed these down to three preferred alternatives which were presented at a public meeting on October 9, 2018. The goal is to eventually present a single preferred alternative to the Montgomery County Planning Board over the coming winter.”
Little Falls Parkway has been on a temporary road diet at the Capital Crescent Trail junction since a cyclist was killed there in October 2016. The road was reduced from two travel lanes each way to one with flex posts, and the speed limit went from 25 to 20 mph.
The Little Falls Parkway Road Diet Made The Street Safer
Since these changes were introduced, there has been a 67 percent reduction in crashes, and no fatalities. Traffic has only decreased here by three percent, and drivers have only had to wait for an additional seven seconds on average. The response is well-aligned with the county’s Vision Zero commitment and its Two-Year Action Plan to have zero road deaths and serious injuries by 2030.”
“Some were worried that traffic is being diverted into area neighborhoods, and others wondered how to accommodate predicted regional growth. However, data shows that there was only a 3% decrease in traffic at the intersection during the current interim road diet, and it’s likely that even less of it was actually diverted.”
“Under the current conditions, very little traffic has been diverted to nearby streets. Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) plans for Arlington and Hillandale Roads will mitigate these impacts further, as will plans for the adjacent Bethesda Pool, which includes road diets and other traffic calming measures.”
Here are the Three Design Options for Capital Crescent Trail at Little Falls Parkway
Again from GGWash:
”Alternative A: A raised sidewalk and a road diet. This plan will continue the current road diet but add beautification and design improvements. ... This alternative is the most cost-effective (estimated $800,000), has the least environmental impact, and has proven to be safe over the last two years.”
”Alternative B: Stop lights. This plan diverts the CCT to the intersection of Arlington Road and Little Falls Parkway, and implements a three-way signal to give dedicated crossing time for vehicles (in two phases) and trail users (in one phase).
This design would keep a single travel lane in each direction to decrease vehicle speeds and improve safety. There are many complicating factors with this proposal, however. It is more expensive (estimated $1,500,000), has greater environmental impact, both trail users and drivers will have to wait longer on average (30 seconds and 13 seconds respectively), and there’s more diverted traffic is expected over current conditions (an estimated 6%).
This plan also makes it more challenging to connect the CCT to the nearby Little Falls Trail and Norwood Park, and complex trail plan from the separate Capital Crescent Trail Connector project would likely have to be resurrected.”
”Alternative C: A pedestrian bridge over the road. The most expensive plan (estimated $4,000,000) but arguably the safest is to build a trail bridge over Little Falls Parkway. In this scenario, trail users and vehicles are completely separated and delays are minimized for both. However, the cost is highest, ongoing maintenance costs will likely be far greater, and the environmental impact is the greatest.” Note that this alternative does not restore Little Falls Parkway to four travel lanes.
Trail Users Support the Cheap, Environmental Crossing. Neighbors Want the Expensive Bridge.
Cyclists and trail users support a permanent lane reduction and inexpensive design option. Greater Greater Washington put a petition at the bottom of their post, asking trail users and residents to support Option A, the raised sidewalk and permanent switch to two lanes. The data from the two-year temporary changes support their claim that minimal delays came to drivers and little-to-no traffic was diverted to nearby neighborhoods.
Neighbors support the $4 million bridge that does the most environmental damage. Despite all the data disproving this, they think nearby streets have been overwhelmed by diverted traffic.
Montgomery County has an open forum where you can vote for your favorite option. Right now, the bridge option is crushing the urbanist favored option 82 to 29 out of 129 votes. The comments from folks supporting Option C suggests they don’t know, don’t believe, or are ignoring MoCo’s data disproving speeding or traffic diversion into their neighborhoods.