The first of the long-awaited Georgia Ave. improvements in Montgomery Hills was implemented recently when the State Highway Administration (SHA) lowered the speed limit to 30 mph (from 35 mph) on Georgia Ave. from Spring St. to Wheaton. This speed limit was recommended in the Planning Department’s Montgomery Hills/Forest Glen Sector Plan adopted a few years ago. The speed reduction was just one of the significant improvements proposed for the corridor, including a green median, removal of the unsafe reversible lanes, wider sidewalks, a cycle track on the west side of the road, pedestrian-safety enhancements, a reconfigured Beltway interchange, and a new traffic light at Flora Lane.
A completed SHA design is expected by the end of 2022. Funding has been allocated for most of the necessary right-of-way acquisitions, and the county and state are cooperating to secure funds for utility relocation and construction. U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen secured one million dollars in federal funding for the project in the recent infrastructure bill that Congress approved. Utility relocation could start as early as January 2024. State Delegates Jared Solomon and Lorig Charkoudian have worked tirelessly on this project to ensure that it continues to move forward and to secure necessary funding.
Following the Montgomery County Planning Board’s approval of the Forest Glen-Montgomery Hills Sector Plan in September, the County Council began the process of considering the plan. NWCA President David Cox and Vice President Geoff Gerhardt testified in support of the sector plan at a County Council hearing in November. Council committees are holding working sessions on the plan, and the full Council is scheduled to vote on it later this winter. Meanwhile, the State Highway Administration is making slow but steady progress on its plan for overhauling Georgia Avenue between 16th St. and Forest Glen Rd. Earlier this year, the state announced it had selected a version of the plan, known as Alternative 5B Modified.
This plan would bring wider sidewalks, protected bicycle track, and a landscaped median with dedicated left turn lanes to Georgia Ave. The plan would also make improvements to the Beltway interchange and eliminate the southbound “slip lane” at 16th St., creating a traditional “T” intersection instead.
The SHA plan is currently at the 30 percent design stage. This fall, the Federal Highway Administration gave preliminary approval to Alternative 5B Modified, which allows design and engineering efforts to move forward. Redesign plans for Georgia Ave. could be finalized by SHA by the end of this year.
However, much work remains to be done to secure construction funding for the project, which is estimated at $35–$40 million. In November, Geoff Gerhardt testified at a hearing of state senators and delegates representing Montgomery County in support of state funding for the project.
In addition, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation listed Georgia Ave. as its highest priority highway project in a draft letter to Maryland Department of Transportation. The final letter is scheduled to be sent to Maryland DOT this spring. Assuming it’s finalized, placement of Georgia Ave. at the top of the county’s transportation priorities list will be a huge victory—due in large part to letters and emails sent by residents of North Woodside. Thank you!