As I wrote about last month, Montgomery County had a meeting to present options for improving the safety of the Little Falls Parkway/CCT. The effort stems from the death of 81 year old Ned Gaylin at the intersection two years ago.
Since the fatal crash the county has temporarily reduced Little Falls Parkway to two lanes, one in each direction at the trail crossing.
The county said with the temporary measures in place there were two driver crashes and one bicycle crash over a year’s time; There were six driver and six bicycle crashes over a year’s period when the parkway had four lanes — two in each direction — the condition that existed at the time of Gaylin’s fatal crash on Oct. 16, 2016.
From the 10 designs outlined over the summer, they've dropped down to just three - a trail overpass, reduced lanes with a speed table and a reoriented trail with a traffic light. I personally think the overpass is the best - now that the underpass has been eliminated - but it's also the most expensive. It will cost $4M and Alternatives A and B cost $800k and $1.5M respectively.
I like the overpass (Alternative C) best because it makes the trail safest (there's no red light to run) and fastest.
The addition of trails along LFP and Hillandale Road is nice addition too.
The permanent road diet option (Alternative A) is my second favorite, because it leaves the trail much as it is, with some added safety benefits.
And then at the bottom is rerouting the trail to Arlington Road (Alternative B) and to cross the street. It will cause the most delay for trail users (more than 30 seconds on average), and make the trail into a sidepath for a half block. There's a nice buffer, so safety doesn't concern me, but it just won't be like riding through the woods. In that option the part of the CCT just north of LFP will be torn our and replanted.
Parks staff is seeking public input on the preferred concept plan. Visit the Open Town Hall web page and leave your comment on the preferred concept plan.
I wonder how much the underpass would have cost. I know some people don't like the underpasses but underpasses are a key piece of the Davis, CA system and one that works really well. In fact Davis, CA is a great example of an American answer to the question of how do you get more people to bike. They built a bike system that results in high ridership and high safety without emulating Copenhagen or Amsterdam.
[There's another report on the meeting here. It doesn't have any new information, but do I like the use of a photo of hiking boots for the "hiker/biker" trail graphic]
Speaking of the Little Falls Parkway I just recently learned that the Little Falls Parkway Trail was pretty controversial at the time it was proposed. Like Purple Line level controversial. And that it was originally to be longer.
In 1978, the county had to rebuild a sewer line under the park between Massachusetts Ave and MacArthur Boulevard and decided that as part of the project it would build a hiker/biker trail on top, and then extend that all the way to Bethesda. They had done similar sewer/trail combinations along Rock Creek and the NW Branch and planned to add trails to most stream valleys. The park had been bought for the parkway, but in 1970 they dropped the part of the parkway south of Massachusetts and the trail seemed like a nice way to allow it to serve as a transportation corridor without extending the road.
Proponents expected it to become one of the county's most popular bike commuter and recreation routes - which might have happened had it been built all the way to Bradley and had the Capital Crescent Trail not been built.
Trail plan in 1979
Residents of Westmoreland Woods sued because they didn't want the trail - and the tree cutting it would require - near their homes and they thought it would bring crime; and in 1979 the Court ordered the County to do an environmental impact report. A subsequent NCPC report noted that since 3600 trees would be cut for the sewer, only 5 additional trees would be removed for the trail; that the trail would result in little noise beyond the occasional police motor scooter or conversations among trail users; that there is no evidence of an uptick in crime associated with trails; and that the closest house would be 40 feet from the trail. A lawsuit in 1978 had also delayed the project north of Massachusetts while planners considered the impact of the trail on the park and neighbors.
One Westmoreland Woods resident was quoted as saying "Being against a bicycle trail is like being against God and motherhood...but I'm still against it."
In November of 1979 the judge dissolved the injunction against building the trail south of Massachusetts. Work was to start that fall or the next spring, but I couldn't find any reports on when it was actually done. Nor could I find why the trail north of Massachusetts was never built as shown in the 1979 plan above.
BTW, in 1983, during a fight over a trail from Rock Creek to Weymouth that residents of Parkside Condominiums were apparently able to block, trail advocates noted that after the Little Falls Trail was built, crime went down.
"Residents of Westmoreland Woods Fight Proposed Bike Trail, Sewer", The Washington Post, Paul Hodge, July 27, 1978
"Court Delays Construction on Bicycle Path", The Washington Post, Paul Hodge, Aug 3, 1978
"Montgomery Bike Trail Heading for Approval", The Washington Post, Paul Hodge, June 7, 1979
"Judge Okays Stalled Section of Little Falls Bike Trail", The Washington Post, November 29, 1979