UPDATE! The Montgomery County DOT will be holding its first public meeting on the Fenton and Grove St. projects on Tuesday, Jan. 21, from 7-9pm at East Silver Spring Elementary School. For more information please visit the County's project page for the Fenton Village Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects.
ESSCA was pleased to learn recently that Montgomery County DOT will soon restart a study on a Fenton St. bike facility and begin a long-anticipated pilot on a new approach to making Grove St. a safer place to walk, bike and drive.
Matt Johnson, Bicycle and Pedestrian Project Priority Area (BiPPA) Project Manager at MCDOT, stated that these studies could commence within the next several weeks:
"At this time [MCDOT] is working on getting a consultant on board to restart the Fenton Street Bikeway Study and the Grove Street Neighborhood Greenway Pilot. We hope to have the consultant on board by late Fall, with a public meeting in late Fall 2019 or Winter 2019/2020 to introduce the community to the projects, and get feedback on the process."
Fenton St. Bikeway Study
Johnson described the goals and process for the Fenton Street study:
"The Fenton Street Bikeway Study will look at the impacts of a potential bike facility on Fenton Street with regard to several aspects, including traffic congestion, signal timing, parking, loading, and cost. The result of the study will be a set of alternatives, with an analysis of how each impacts the community and what the tradeoffs are between the alternatives. For example, one alternative might have less impact on traffic but more impact on parking, or a different alternative might have minimal impact on traffic and parking but cost more.
These alternatives will be presented to the community at the end of the study process. That process will help MCDOT determine what the best alternative will be going forward. A No-Build alternative is a possible outcome. The study itself is not going to result in a decision to go forward with an alternative. It's only intended to provide the information about different design options so that if the County decides to move forward, that all the necessary information will have been gathered to allow the community to make an informed decision. Any decision to move forward would happen after the completion of the study and after community involvement."
Grove Street Neighborhood Greenway Pilot
In addition to the Fenton St. study, the County will also look at ways of implementing the Neighborhood Greenway concept on Grove St. According to Johnson:
"The Grove Street Neighborhood Greenway Pilot project will be presented to the community at the same time as the Fenton Street Bikeway Study, but it will move on a different [faster] timeframe. A neighborhood greenway is a street where the safe, comfortable movement of pedestrians and cyclists is prioritized over motor vehicle traffic.
The idea is that we make Grove Street a comfortable street to walk and bike on by trying to reduce the speed of all vehicles and to reduce the number of vehicles traveling through the corridor. The recently-adopted Bicycle Master Plan calls for a neighborhood greenway treatment on Grove Street."
The County envisions the pilot project having several phases:
Phase 1: Gathering data and developing the plan for the second phase.
Phase 2: Implementing removable/modifiable pilot treatments for several months. During this phase, the County will collect data, and compare it to the baseline data gathered in phase 1.
Phase 3: The County may make modifications/additions/deletions to the treatments from phase 2 to create a second implementation stage to compare how the treatments are working.
At the conclusion of phase 3, the County will present their findings to the community to make a determination about whether to keep the interim treatments, make them permanent, remove them, or modify them. Throughout all phases, the County will keep the community engaged through regular meetings/updates.
There's a System to These Things
Both the Fenton and Grove St. studies will take a systematic look at neighborhood streets and transportation modes. Mr. Johnson mentioned that the County would guard against changes on Fenton St. that might spill over onto Grove St., and changes to Grove St. that might spill over onto other neighborhood streets such as Houston St., and so on.
Grove St. Sidewalks?
Of course we can't talk about Grove St. without the mention of sidewalks. According to Johnson, due to the narrow width of the street and the lack of County-owned right-of-way, sidewalks as a rule would not be considered in the Grove St. neighborhood greenway pilot. The temporary treatments considered are intended to make it safe for walkers, bikers, and drivers to share the roadway safely and comfortably.
But Wait There's More!
And if the Fenton and Grove St. studies were not enough, MCDOT is also designing improved pedestrian safety at the intersection of Fenton Street and Philadelphia/Burlington Avenues (MD 410). These improvements are intended to deal with the multiple lane crossings pedestrians have to negotiate at that intersection. The County will provide more information at the kick-off meeting for the Fenton and Grove St. studies.
And a Future Plan ...
These long-anticipated studies and actions are just in time to inform another County initiative, the Pedestrian Master Plan. Community meetings are happening now through mid-November to introduce the concept, with the closest meeting being Oct. 21 at the County Planning office.
If you have questions about these studies and actions, please discuss on the ESSCA listserve and Facebook Group, or send an email to Tim Haverland at firstname.lastname@example.org. ESSCA will keep you informed as these projects develop.