On December 1, 2015, the SHA (State Highway Administration) will be hosting a public hearing where detailed engineering and environmental results will be presented for the Montgomery Hills Project Design.
The Montgomery Hills section (the area between Forest Glen on the north-side and 16th street on the south) has been the topic of many redesign conversations over the past several years, including recent news that its master plan will be consolidated with Forest Glen’s own master plan.
The initial 10 SHA designs varied from maintaining the status quo to a full fledge tunnel that would go under Georgia Ave. SHA has now narrowed down the selection to 6 designs considered for selection this winter, with design approvals occurring sometime in 2016.
Design 3 is the best alternative for Forest Glen
Amongst all of the proposed designs for Montgomery Hills, Design 3 will transform Georgia Ave. into a corridor ripe for redevelopment and will create a strong sense of place for the Forest Glen area.
Design 3 consists of four travel lanes in the southbound direction at all times and a 16-foot wide grass median that would replace the existing reversible center turn lane. Three travel lanes would be maintained in the northbound direction from 16th street to Seminary Place, and the roadway would be widened to provide four northbound travel lanes from Seminary Place through Forest Glen Road.
A new signal at Flora Lane (see above) would also help bicyclists and pedestrians cross Georgia Avenue.
Georgia Ave. is currently riddled with many intersection issues so Design 3 helps by adding much needed dedicated left-turn lanes at Forest Glen Road, Flora Lane, Seminary Place and Seminary Road.
Design 3 is the only design that allows for trees on both sides of Georgia Avenue and a space where pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy a wide 13.5-foot-wide sidewalk, providing a significant buffer for pedestrians and bicyclists from the main road.
Looking to the Future
As Montgomery County continues with the Master Plan review, Design 3 is also the only alternative that is consistent with the current M-NCPPC’s North and West Silver Spring Master Plan (adopted in 2000).
Although Design 3 does not allow for bicyclist lanes on Georgia Ave, the design does link up with the existing Pedestrian Bridge. With car traffic expected to increase 14.8% in the Seminary Place section (from 73,000 to 84,000) by 2040, Georgia Ave. generally is not a safe road for bicyclists. A tree lined street with an extra wide sidewalk could create a traffic calming effect – making the overall driving and bicycling experience more enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing.
By 2040, Montgomery Hills and Seminary Place could develop into a mixed-use corridor/gateway between downtown Silver Spring and Wheaton. Design 3 not only supports this possibility, but also helps create a sense of place for Forest Glen and Montgomery Hills.