Montgomery County recently held a hearing on the Planning Department's Westbard Sector Plan update.
The new Westbard Sector Plan re-assesses and updates the goals and achievements of the 1982 Plan to provide guidance for the next 20 years. It addresses new challenges in the Westbard area, including changes in traffic, housing demand and office and retail trends.
A tremendous asset in the community is the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) on the old B&O Railroad right-ofway. This pedestrian and bicycle trail is a major regional connection that also provides limited local service in the Westbard area. Increasing local connectivity to and from the CCT will allow it to be more integrated into the community.
“No matter how many bicyclists you provide for, we will still be driving,” said Patricia Johnson, a resident of the nearby Kenwood neighborhood.“Senior citizens are counting on that full-service gas station,” said nearby resident Robert Dyer. “The message to them is ‘Drop dead.’”
- An 11-foot-wide, two-way separated bike lane (cycle track) on the north side of River Road with a buffer. The separated bike lanes and sidewalk will transition to a shared-use path outside of the Sector Plan boundary. The separated bike lanes and sidewalk will also connect to the proposed trail that runs between the Capital Crescent Trail and River Road.
- 5-foot-wide, one-way separated bike lanes (cycle track) on each side of an extended Westbard Avenue (LB-1 on the map below) with a buffer from traffic. The one-way cycle tracks on Westbard Avenue would transition to an off -road shared use path on both sides of the road south of Westbard Circle to Massachusetts Avenue.
- Bikeways on a new "Connector Road" (LB-2 on the map below) between Massachusetts Ave and River Road. The roadway is envisioned to be a low speed road that would allow for bicyclists to safely share the travel lane with vehicles. This road would also lead to a proposed new connection to the Capital Crescent Trail.
- Space reserved for bicycle facilities, such as a bike share station and long-term bicycle parking, within any Transit hub included in the redevelopment area on Westbard Avenue.
- Creation of a connector from the new "Connector Road" to the Capital Crescent Trail with a bicycle ramp. A connection from the new connector road to the CCT would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to gain access to the CCT instead of using ramps on River Road or a staircase on Massachusetts Avenue.
- All bikeway improvements be completed to the nearest intersection with appropriate transitions across major roadways.
- Added short term and long-term bicycle parking amenities that are safe, secure and convenient. Racks would be protected from the elements and be highly visible.
- Bike share stations expanded in and around the Westbard Plan area.
- An enhanced at-grade crossing of River Road at the CCT to facilitate an easier and faster crossing of River Road for pedestrians and bicyclists. The enhancement could be tied into a possible signal that could be located at the Landy Lane/River Road intersection
- A new hard surface trail from the Capital Crescent Trail to the Whole Foods site and a new entrance to the Capital Crescent Trail between Whole Foods and Washington Episcopal School and a community open space at the intersection of the proposed hard surface trail and River Road
- When Washington Episcopal School redevelops, renovate the associated portion of Willett Branch to restore the flood plain and provide a trail connection to the Little Falls Stream Valley and Capital Crescent Trail.
In addition, the plan recommends making the CCT more of a park, with more adjacent parkland. It calls for the creation of a Countywide Urban Recreational Park adjacent to the Capital Crescent Trail at Willet Branch that could include a skate park, a pump track and a dog park; the completion of plantings to complete Westbard’s Greenway network along the Capital Crescent Trail and Little Falls Parkway; the creation of an environmentally sensitive Willett Branch crossings at the Capital Crescent Trail that would consist of a wider span for a naturalized channel and a pedestrian trail along the stream; and that the county reclaim and replant encroachments on the Capital Crescent Special Park to create a more naturalized condition.
Connector Road along the CCT
River Road with Protected bikeway
Westbard Avenue with raised, protected bike lanes on each side