For more than a year-and-half Clarksburg residents have been avoiding Stringtown Road as one of the oldest arteries in Clarksburg was given the upgrade it deserved. No more, as of Thursday, August 31 — 17 months after it was closed for reconstruction – Stringtown Road is open for traffic once again.
Montgomery County Officials and local residents gathered on a sunny late summer morning under a tent on the road to hold a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new 3,200-foot-section of Stringtown Road, which connects Snowden Farm Parkway and St. Clair Road.
“We are happy to be here to celebrate the reopening of Stringtown Road,” said Al Roshdieh, Director of Montgomery County Department of Transportation. “About 60 percent of the construction costs for this project was funded by the developer, Elm Street Development.”
The project, which cost $7.2 million – was a public/private construction project which widened the 3,200-foot section of Stringtown Road from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway, and also built sidewalks and a bike lane, as well as stormwater management improvements. According to Sharon Ledner, Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilmember Craig Rice, McLean, Va.-based Elm Street Development paid $4.0 million, and Montgomery County kicked in $3.2 million to make the project a reality.
“It is part of the MCDOT’s ongoing commitment to providing a safe, efficient, and reliable transportation system in MoCo that enhances the quality of life for all of our residents,” said Roshdieh.
“With the continued growth in Clarksburg,” said Roshdieh, “we project that the number of vehicles traveling on this road will increase from 6,400 in 2011 to 17,000 in 2040. That is more than a 250 percent increase — that is why this improvement is so vital to this community. This project will provide this community with better and safer access for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.”
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said, “We have a great deal of transportation needs and expectations that this road will fulfill. It is important to point out that we have done more than just widening a road, we have made a number environmental enhancements, including sidewalks and hiker/biker paths.”
Leggett thanked the Elm Street Development for their part in paying for the more than 50 percent of the $7.2 million improvements to the road. Leggett also thanked the Montgomery County Planning Board for staying true to the Master Plan and pushing for the improvements to Stringtown Road.
“Anytime we can get a developer to for all or part of a road construction project it is a great thing for the County,” Councilmember Craig Rice told Germantown Pulse. “It is a great thing for taxpayers when we have developers pay their fair share. It is one of the things that our residents have continued to ask for, and government has delivered. A public/private partnership like this delivers a community good, and saves the taxpayers money.” “[Parks and planning] have been involved in the creation of this community for a number of years,” said Leggett, “In making certain that the Master Plan that we outlined and the expectations that we had in fulfilling what is required in terms of transportation needs and connecting communities that we are going to build.”
The project which began in April of 2016 included the creation of a four-lane divided highway with two new culverts; realigning the road to make it safer for pedestrians and drivers; construction of an eight-foot-wide bikeway along the north side of the road; construction of an eight-foot-wide bikeway that transitions to a five-foot-wide sidewalk on the south side of the road; and the installation of stormwater management features.
District 2 County Council Representative Craig Rice was also on hand. Rice had been pushing hard to make the new Stringtown Road a reality. “Since taking office in 2010, I’ve advocated on behalf of Clarksburg’s residents on the pressing need to widen and realign Stringtown Road to enhance safety,” said Rice, who represents Clarksburg and much of the Upcounty. “I am pleased that the community can now access Stringtown Road with confidence because of its enhanced accessibility and safety improvements for drivers and pedestrians.”
During the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Rice pointed out that it was the community, led in no small way by a group of local residents who saw the danger of the old road, which led the charge for the improvements to Stringtown Road. He pointed out the Foreman family and the Joann Woodson of Clarksburg.
“The true people who were behind this were the community,” said Rice. “It truly speaks to representative government. In a time in which we are having trouble getting people to believe that government can work for them. This is a case where a community voices a concern, and government reacts and make it happen. That is the way government should work. And I am proud to say that is the way government works here in Montgomery County.”
Among the speakers at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony were members of two families that have had kin living along Stringtown Road for generations. The Foreman sisters, Cecile, Francis, and Margaret Foreman, along with Joann Woodson were fierce advocates for the new road.
Joann Woodson, president of the Clarksburg Historical Society, gave some of the history of Stringtown Road. She said that the road, which had been in existence in some form or another since the late 1800s.
“I have traveled this road for over 80-some years. I have seen it grow from a cobblestone road to the traffic we have today. I tell everybody, I was used to seeing tree tops in Clarksburg, but now I see only rooftops. But, we welcome everybody that has come to live in Clarksburg. We old timers are very proud of ourselves for making this town such a rich place to live where everybody is part what we love so much.”
She told the crowd, “Stringtown Road got its name because it was customary for the families that lived along the road to gather and play stringed instruments for entertainment. They didn’t have radios or record player, so everything was live. Every household had string instruments, guitar, banjo, mandolin, or fiddle. Fathers and sons learned to play these instruments quite well, as well as, singing in harmony and Stringtown was born. The families of Foremans, Moores, Randolphs, Snowdens and several others lived along Stringtown road. This tradition went on for many years. The descendants of these families are still singing today.”
“I am just so excited that this road is finally finished,” said Cecile Foreman. “The Foreman family has been residents on Stringtown Road since the 1800s. At one point the area was called Foreman Hill. The Foreman family generations have witnessed many changes from a dirt road to what we are here to celebrate this morning. Over the years, Mr. Rice and the Councilmembers have said, ‘It's coming.’ But I wasn’t a believer. When Mr. Rice said, ‘Ms Foreman, guess what? You are going to get the road.’ I cried for joy. I can't tell you have happy we are to have this beautiful road. It is absolutely gorgeous.”
The Foreman sisters handed out flowers to County Officials as well as members of the construction team which built the road.
Rice said the reopened road could also be an economic improvement for businesses in Clarksburg. “The great thing about this road is not only that it represents public safety, but it also represents economic development. A lot of those businesses that are at the end of Stringtown Road, were kind of shut off because folks didn’t want to use Stringtown Road, now have increased visibility and access. We hope to see it stimulate some growth in the shopping center at the corner of Stringtown Road and Frederick Road.”
Top: Stringtown Road is officially open to traffic after Thursday morning’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
Next: Montgomery County and Clarksburg leaders cut the ribbon officially opening Stringtown Road.
Next: Germantown Pulse's video of the entire Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the reopening of Stringtown Road.
Next: Al Roshdieh, Director of Montgomery County Department of Transportation, addresses the gathered crowd of officials and residents.
Next: Ike Leggett thanked the developer and the construction crews.
Next: Councilmember Craig Rice is flanked by Clarksburg activists Margaret Foreman to his left, and Joann Woodson on his right as Stringtown Road was officially opened.
Next: Joann Woodson, president of the Clarksburg Historical Society gave some history of the road and how it got its unique name.
Next: The Foreman Sisters, Cicele, Francis, and Margaret, whose family has lived along Stringtown Road for generations, expressed their happiness with the new road and presented flowers to County Officials and members of the development company and construction crew leaders.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.