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«Countywide Park Trails Plan THE MARYLAND-NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION Montgomery County Department of Parks Park Planning and ...»

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Add the Muddy Branch hard surface trail to the Capital Improvement Program as a Facility Planning Project.

Explore ways to improve trail connectivity to the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg.

Improve east-west trail connectivity between Cabin John, Muddy Branch and Watts Branch Stream Valley Parks. One possible option would be use of a power line right-of-way, which traverses all through parks


Corridor 5: Rock Creek Plan Objective: Expand the trail system in Rock Creek Regional Park northward to Olney and the Patuxent River.

The Rock Creek Corridor (Figure 11), which extends from the District of Columbia to the Patuxent River, includes both the main stem and North Branch of Rock Creek. A 14-mile hard surface hikerbiker trail and numerous informal natural surface trails exist in Rock Creek Stream Valley Park. The hard surface trail system in Rock Creek Regional Park extends from Lake Needwood to the District line. The 2008 Upper Rock Creek Trail Corridor (URCTC) Plan consolidates all these trails into a unified trail network Existing Conditions and Plans A Master Plan for Rock Creek Regional Park was approved in 2000. Trail planning was an important component of the Plan. The Rock Creek Regional Park Master Plan recommends expansion of the hard surface (and natural surface) recreational trail system within the regional park, as well as beyond its boundaries. By connecting to proposed on-road bikeway connectors and by extending through both stream valley branches of Rock Creek: 1) Rock Creek S.V. Park as natural surface to Agricultural History Farm Park; and 2) North Branch S.V. Park as hard surface and natural surface to Olney and the Patuxent River.

Recommendations Support the concept of a mid-county greenway trail corridor extending from the Potomac River to the Patuxent River (Figure 06).

Support trail locations that achieve environmental stewardship objectives.

Propose a series of trail loops within the corridor Recommend a hard surface trail connection from Rock Creek Regional Park to Olney.

Recommend a natural surface trail network that accommodates hikers, equestrians and cyclists.

Issues Needing Further Study

The following implementation recommendations are part of the 2008 URCTC Plan:

Implement the trail connection of Lake Frank and Lake Needwood as an ICC community enhancement project.

Prepare a natural surface trail assessment study for new trail proposals in the Upper Rock Creek Trail Corridor Plan Provide a continuous natural trail around Lake Frank Designate a continuous hard surface trail around Lake Needwood.

Initiate a facility plan as the first step in providing a hard surface trail connection from Rock Creek Regional Park to Olney.

Revisit the current master plan for George Carson Special Park.

Implement a series of interconnected loop trails at time of subdivision and in accord with any related road improvements.

Add interpretive signage related to historic mills as related trails are open to the public.

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Corridor 6: Capital Crescent Plan Objective: Provide a continuous trail corridor through Bethesda and Silver Spring to the Metropolitan Branch Trail in the District of Columbia.

The Capital Crescent Trail Corridor serves as the backbone of the trail system in southern Montgomery County (see Figure 12). The trail corridor follows an abandoned rail line that runs from Washington, D.C. to Silver Spring. From Silver Spring, it continues as the Metropolitan Branch along an active CSX rail line into the District of Columbia, terminating at Union Station. Over 115,000 county residents live within roughly one mile of the Capital Crescent/Metropolitan Branch corridor.

Recreation destinations along the Capital Crescent include:

C&O Canal, a national park, canal, and trail that runs from Georgetown in the District of Columbia to Cumberland, Maryland.

Little Falls Stream Valley Park which parallels the trail for two miles.

Rock Creek Stream Valley Park with its trail south to Rock Creek National Park and north to Needwood Lake.

Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park, which connects north to Wheaton Regional Park and south to the Anacostia system in Prince George’s County.

Existing Conditions and Plans The first stage of the Capital Crescent Corridor, a hard surface 10-foot wide trail from Georgetown to Bethesda, completed in 1996, is already the most popular trail in the county and one of the busiest trails in the country. An interim trail made of crushed stone is in place from Bethesda to Silver Spring while state and county governments determine the fate of the proposed Georgetown Branch Transitway. All transitway alternatives include or allow for a trail. The Silver Spring CBD Plan of 1993 describes the proposed route of the Metropolitan Branch Trail from the Silver Spring Transit Center to the DC line. The proposed design for the Transit Center also provides for the bikeway as part of the multi-modal facility.

Issues Needing Further Study Appropriate signs should direct trail users from the Silver Spring Transit Center, where the Capital Crescent and Metropolitan Branch trails meet to downtown Silver Spring and to the Sligo Creek Trail.

Appropriated well marked bike facilities should direct trail users from the end of the partially completed Bethesda Trolley trail near NIH, through downtown Bethesda to the Capital Crescent Trail.

Whether or not a transitway is built is a key decision that must be made before a permanent trail can be completed from Bethesda to Silver Spring. Cyclists and other trail users are divided on the issue of the transitway. Some see it as a viable trail partner, while others see a light rail system or busway as incompatible with the trail. For most of the corridor, current studies show a 10-foot trail adjacent to the transitway. In certain areas, the transitway would compromise trail design (width, clearance) such as the Rouse Building (Silver Spring Metro Plaza) in Silver Spring adjacent to the Transit Center, where the proposed trail would be only five to six feet wide. An alternative alignment for the trail would follow sidewalks on Second Street

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Corridor 7: Eastern County Plan Objective: Enhance east-west hard surface trail connectivity between parks and park trail systems.

The County’s most extensive and widely used hard surface, multi-use trails are located in the eastern part of the County. Sligo Creek and Rock Creek Trails are of regional importance as they extend beyond Montgomery County. In the Paint Branch Stream Valley, a paved trail extends from Martin Luther King Park north to Fairland Road. All of these trails, shown in Figure 13, extend in a northsouth direction with no east-west links. The Capital Crescent Trail intersects the Rock Creek Trail system but not Sligo Creek.

Existing Conditions and Plans Virtually all of the existing east-west links in the eastern portion of the County are sidewalks or bike paths along roads, including Randolph Road, Fairland Road and Forest Glen Road. Master Plans for the eastern portion of the county have proposed the following east-west hard surface trail


Forest Glen. The Forest Glen Sector Plan proposes a bikeway on Forest Glen Road that will help connect Sligo Creek with Rock Creek.

The North and West Silver Spring Master Plan recommends that a combination of Seminary Road, Columbia Boulevard, and Linden Lane be utilized as an alternative connection between Sligo Creek and Rock Creek.

Matthew Henson Right-of-Way. The 1994 Aspen Hill Master Plan proposes a bike trail in the Matthew Henson right of way.

The ICC Bikeway: The Cloverly, Fairland and White Oak Master Plans recommend a bikeway within the ICC Right-of-Way. The bikeway would be part of the design and construction of the master planned major highway.

The Cloverly and Fairland Master Plans recommend a bikeway trail within the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) right-of-way in the Patuxent watershed. This trail begins at the county line and ends at Ednor Road.

The Cloverly and Fairland Master Plans recommend a bikeway along MD 198 from Prince George’s County to the Northwest Branch. The bikeway would be constructed as part of the proposed MD rte. 198/Norbeck Connector. This bikeway provides east-west connectivity between the Northwest Branch and the Paint Branch stream valley parks.

The Cloverly, Fairland and White Oak Master Plans recommend extensions of the Northwest Branch and Paint Branch stream valley trail system. These extensions need to be implemented in order to connect to the east-west connections recommended in this Plan.

Recommendations Implement the Paint Branch Stream Valley trail recommendations made in the Fairland and

White Oak Master Plans. The key recommendations are summarized as follows:

The White Oak and Fairland Plans recommend extension of the Paint Branch Trail south to Old Columbia Pike crossing under US 29, on the east side of the stream. The Fairland Plan recommends extension north from Fairland Road to Columbia Local Park with connections to

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the ICC, adjoining streets and communities using alternative routes on local streets north of the ICC because of environmental constraints. Both Plans acknowledge the environmental Figure 13 - Corridor 7: Eastern County

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conditions that may make a hard surface trail difficult to locate and construct in any of the proposed segments and reference the need for environmental feasibility studies to determine location and surface of the trail.

The Plans also note the need for safe crossings at Randolph Road and Fairland Road.

Explore ways to provide a natural surface recreational trail connection between US 29 and the trail system in Prince George’s County.

This Plan shows a potential future extension of the Paint Branch trail south of US 29. This connection is not recommended in either the White Oak or Fairland Master Plans. Although the White Oak Plan does recommend that parkland additions to the Paint Branch Stream Valley Park should be pursued if compatible with the General Services Administration’s master plan for the FDA relocation. Although there will be difficulties in trying to cross two other federal installations along the Paint Branch (the Adelphi Laboratory and the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center) and the I?495/I?95 interchange area to reach the paved trail at Cherry Hill Road in Prince George’s County, this Plan supports a connection between the two trail systems.

Explore ways to provide a trail connection between the existing and proposed Paint Branch hard surface trail and a future hard surface trail in the ICC right-of-way.

Finding a way to link the existing Paint Branch paved trail to a future hard surface trail in the ICC right-of-way is extremely important if the Paint Branch trail is to be part of a larger trail network. This Plan proposes a hard surface connection, which uses a sidewalk/bikeway along the south side of Fairland Road, to a connection north to the ICC right-of-way proposed in The Fairland Master Plan.

Provide east-west connections between existing north-south hard surface trails in the vicinity of Silver Spring and Forest Glen.

The master plans for the Silver Spring/Takoma Park area recommend several on-road and offroad connectors, including the Silver Spring Green Trail along Wayne Avenue.

Provide a hard surface trail in the vicinity of the InterCounty Connector (ICC) right-of-way, whether or not the highway is built.

The ICC Master Plan right-of-way is shown in Figure 13. If a highway is built on any portion of the right-of-way, a bike/pedestrian path will also be provided. This path will provide eastwest connectivity between the I-270 Corridor/Gaithersburg area and Rock Creek Regional Park, Martin Luther King Regional Park, and Fairland Recreational Park.

Staff recommends a trail throughout the length of the ICC (with or without a highway).

However, its exact location and design should remain flexible in order to minimize its environmental impact.

This portion of the ICC right-of-way in combination with Matthew Henson Greenway would help provide an integrated hard surface trail system, which would connect every major park facility in Eastern Montgomery County. For this reason, this area is critical to implementing the overall trail concept for Eastern County. If the ICC is not built, trail opportunities along the ICC right-of-way should be considered. Trail opportunities outside the right-of-way should also be explored.

Initiate a comprehensive trail study in the Northwest Branch Corridor once the future of the ICC is determined.

The issue of trail connectivity between Northwest Branch and Wheaton Regional Parks needs to be addressed comprehensively. The Wheaton Regional Park Master Plan does not propose


any recreational trails in the northern part of the park and there is no park trail between the Sligo Creek hard surface trail and Wheaton Regional Park. The park acquisition areas proposed in this Plan need to be further refined to assure that hard surface and natural surface trails can be accommodated and still address environmental concerns in Northwest Branch. Finally, trail locations within Northwest Branch Park need to be identified. Whether or not a road is built in this portion of the ICC right-of-way will greatly affect the location and design of trails so this study should await final decisions on the ICC.

Provide trail connections between Rock Creek Regional Park and Sligo Creek Park trails.

The hard surface trails in Rock Creek and Sligo Parks are the oldest in the county. Both these trails are of regional significance since they connect to adjoining counties and municipalities.

Both go north south but there is no east-west connection between the two trail systems.

This Plan proposes connecting the two trails as shown in Figure 14, thereby creating a 16-mile hard surface downcounty “loop.” The Matthew Henson State Park and Greenway and the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park are both critical to this concept. This Plan recommends a hard surface trail in these parks be

provided in two phases:

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