Traffic. Nobody likes it, but a certain amount is to be expected in a community that is located near a thriving urban center. Unfortunately, there are a number of construction projects about to get underway that are likely to increase traffic in and around our neighborhood.
The North Woodside-Montgomery Hills Citizens Association will continue to work with officials from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, state transportation agencies, Purple Line and others to minimize the impact. But there is an inevitable it’s going to get worse before it gets better aspect to the next several years. Here is a short summary of the projects about to get started or that are in the planning stages.
Seminary Road Intersection
The Seminary Road Intersection Improvement Project is intended to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at the so-called mixing bowl where Second Avenue meets Seminary Road, Seminary Place and Linden Lane. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2018 and be completed roughly 12 months later. While traffic will be allowed to use the intersection throughout the project, backups and delays should be expected.
In May, the county’s Department of Transportation hosted a meeting at Woodlin Elementary where officials walked through the project’s schedule and heard testimony from residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. At that meeting, I provided input on the project on behalf of NWMHCA. One of the points I emphasized is that our neighborhood is greatly impacted by cut-through traffic on Second Avenue, which often backs up at the mixing bowl intersection. I pointed out that this problem could be reduced by allowing left turns at rush hour from Georgia Avenue onto Seminary Road, Seminary Place and Forest Glen Road.
Purple Line and Talbot Bridge
In late April, the Talbot Avenue Bridge was permanently closed to vehicle traffic following an inspection that found the bridge was no longer safe for cars. DOT says the bridge is still safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. No advance notice of the closure was given to the surrounding communities. NWMHCA worked with DOT to develop better detour signage than what was originally put in place.
Now that the lawsuit regarding the Purple Line has (mostly) been resolved, replacing the Talbot Bridge is high on the county’s priority list. The new bridge is slated to be about 41 feet wide (compared with 11 feet wide for the current bridge) in order to accommodate three lanes two for vehicle traffic and one for the Capital Crescent Trail.
NWMHCA petitioned county and Purple Line officials to reduce the size of the new bridge to be more consistent with the current bridge. We asked that the new bridge have one lane for alternating two-way vehicle traffic and one lane for the trail. However, we were informed that this proposal would violate federal safety standards, which requires new bridges to have two lanes for vehicle traffic. Therefore, the new bridge would be built as originally planned.
We are now actively working with the Lyttonsville and Rosemary Hills civic associations on ways to ensure that both vehicle and trail traffic can use the bridge safely. We want to promote traffic calming measures on the surrounding streets and look at ways to improve the aesthetics of the new bridge. We are also supporting efforts spearheaded by Lyttonsville to preserve portions of the current bridge in order to memorialize its unique history.
Lyttonsville Place Bridge
The Lyttonsville Place Bridge will also be replaced as part of the Purple Line project. The timing is unclear, but it looks like the Lyttonsville Bridge will be closed after the Talbot Bridge is replaced. It is likely that some traffic that would ordinarily go over the Lyttonsville Bridge would be rerouted over the Talbot Bridge. We are working with DOT on strategies to minimize the effect on North Woodside. These would includes establishing a detour route that will encourage traffic to travel on larger state roads like 16th Street and making sure trucks aren’t allowed over the new Talbot Bridge. The situation is going to be further complicated by construction on the Spring Street Bridge as part of the Purple Line.
Seminary Road Bridge
This winter, the state Department of Transportation will start work rehabilitating the Seminary Road Bridge over Interstate 495. The project will take about a year to complete. The state plans on keeping two lanes of traffic open through- out the project, but lane shifts will be required and traffic back-ups could occur.
Georgia Avenue Study
The Maryland Department of Transportation has spent several years looking at ways to improve Georgia Avenue from 16th Street to Forest Glen Road. The planning study was funded by the county, although no funds have been set aside to actually make any of the proposed changes.
Options being looked at by DOT include installing a median, adding a dedicated bike lane and providing left turns lanes from Georgia Avenue onto Seminary Road, Seminary Place and Forest Glen Road. In September, Maryland DOT announced it was still working on identifying the preferred alternative for the project and conducting additional engineering analysis. The preferred alternative is supposed to be announced this fall. At this point, it is unclear how the planning study will be affected by Gov. Hogan’s proposal to add four lanes to the Beltway.