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UpCounty Civic Leaders are Unhappy with Results of Ridge Road Upgrades

December 8, 2016

After suffering through what seemed like an endless parade of lane closures, shifting traffic patterns, and often gridlocked commutes along the stretch of Ridge Road/MD Rt. 27 for 2,700 feet from the intersection of Brink Road north to just past the almost opened new intersection with Snowden Parkway, Clarksburg area leaders are not happy with the results and are urging the state highway officials to alter the current way the new road is constituted.

   Once the dust settled, and the road was opened to traffic, motorists saw that all widening didn’t really do much to help the flow of southbound traffic on Ridge Road through the Brink Road intersection. The new intersection at the traffic light consists of two left turn lane on to Brink Road, and just two through lanes for traffic going through the intersection and one lane for a through lane or right turns.

   In a letter, area residents and leaders are urging the Maryland State Highway Administration to change the new configuration to just one left-turn lane and a separate right-turn lane, and three through lanes.

   The letter, sent to Maryland State Highway Administration, District Engineer Brian Young, and copied to elected members of the Maryland legislature, along with Montgomery County officials including Councilmember Craig Rice, by the Coalition for Upcounty, Clarksburg and Goshen civic associations and HOA groups, states “Our communities were quite alarmed to learn that SHA has approved and implemented striping and signalization for the recently widened MD 27 southbound approach to Brink Road in a manner that is totally insensitive to local/regional priorities for the corridor.”

   The letter continues, “The above ‘new’ lane configuration and signal arrangement is non-responsive to local traffic needs/demands, insensitive to maintaining the quality of life for residents of long-established local, rural, historic communities along Brink Road, Wildcat Road, Wightman Road, Warfield Road, Goshen Road, and Montgomery Village Avenue, is contrary to design/policy goals SHA must have for the MD 27 corridor, highly illogical, a blatant disregard of decades-old local master plans, and presents a total breakdown of communication with local community stakeholders.”

   The letter asks the SHA eliminate one turning lane onto eastbound Brink Road. “To rectify the above unacceptable conditions, we request that SHA immediately modify the lane configuration and signal heads on the southbound MD 27 approach to Brink Road to provide ONLY a single left-turn lane to eastbound Brink Road. This will protect long-established communities in East Germantown, Goshen, Montgomery Village, and Historic Prathertown from the onslaught of pass-through or cut-thru traffic (commuter or otherwise) that was never meant to use these local and rural legacy roadways. It will also honor long-standing local master plan land use/transportation recommendations and decisions, and help SHA avoid any unintended impacts on our community resources,” said the letter.

   The letter cited the growth of the Clarksburg area, as construction begins on the multi-family dwellings which be erected on the plot of land on the northwest corner of the intersection, as well as “additional residential growth in Damascus, and significant new residential developments already approved in New Market, Linganore, Summerfield, Mt. Airy, etc. in eastern Frederick County, in Carroll County, as well as in western Howard County.”

   “We, therefore, recommend that, from a traffic/travel demand standpoint, three exclusive through travel lanes are maintained on southbound MD 27. Providing adequate through travel capacity on southbound MD 27 south of Snowden Farm Parkway is an extremely critical need locally for communities in East Germantown, Clarksburg, and Damascus. This need is further magnified given the failure by SHA to adequately and timely plan widening as well as other localized intersection improvements along the section of MD 355 (for example, MD 355 and West Old Baltimore Road intersection) between of Milestone Manor Lane in Germantown and MD 121 (Clarksburg Road) in Clarksburg/East Boyds, inability by Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to fund the of Corridor Cities Transitway in any reasonable timeframe, and the paralysis by Montgomery County to move forward on the extension of Snowden Farm Parkway to Midcounty Highway,” said the letter.

   The Coalition for Upcounty believes that peak period local/regional commute traffic along the Ridge Road corridor will increase significantly over the next few years. “The southbound MD 27 approach to Brink Road will particularly take the brunt of the morning inbound commute traffic traveling south from these northern communities outside Montgomery County,” said the letter.

   The group also believes that traffic will increase for destinations west of Ridge Road and the need for a separate right-turn lane to destinations such as Black Hill Regional Park, Little Bennett Regional Park, and the new Outlet Mall.

   “To rectify the above condition,” the letter continued, “we request that SHA immediately modify the lane configuration, striping, and signal heads on the southbound MD 27 approach at Brink Road to provide a separate (single) left-turn lane to eastbound Brink Road, three exclusive through lanes to MD 355, and a separate exclusive right-turn lane to westbound Brink Road.”

  The letter was co-signed by Charles Tilford of the Coalition for Upcounty; Bonnie Bell of the Greater Goshen Civic Association; Barry Fantle of the Clarksburg Civic Association; Jane Hatch, president of the Northgate Homes Corp. of Montgomery Village; and Keith Miller, president of Arora Hills HOA in Clarksburg.

 

Captions:

Top: The ‘new’ intersection at Ridge Road at Brink Road as seen from the southbound approach. Motorists can see two left-turn lanes and two through lanes, and one lane which is a through lane and for right turns. Critics say MD SHA should forego the two left-turn lanes and make three through lanes and one right-turn only lane.

Next: The new section of Ridge Road northbound with two left-turn lanes for Snowden Parkway.

 

Photos by Germantown Pulse.

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