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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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Phase I - Provide a hard surface park trail in the portion of Matthew Henson State Park and Greenway between Rock Creek Trail and Alderton Drive. Cyclists wishing to reach Wheaton Regional Park would do so via bike lanes on Layhill, Randolph and Kemp Mill Roads. Cyclists could ride north on Alderton to reach Bonifant Road and the future trail proposed in the ICC right-of-way.

Phase II - Provide a hard surface park trail from Alderton Drive east to Northwest Branch and south to Wheaton Regional Park. Phase II affects the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park.

The Northwest Branch includes sensitive environmental areas and is an important part of this Plan’s proposed natural surface trail system between the Potomac and Patuxent. For this reason, this Plan recommends that additional parkland be acquired to allow a hard surface trail connection outside the stream valley to emphasize protection of the Northwest Branch.

An opportunity for such acquisition would occur if the Indian Springs Golf Course ever redevelops.

The Technical Appendix (published separately) includes the options studied for improving connectivity between Rock Creek and Sligo Creek trails. The Plan concept shown in Figure 14

was selected because it:

Places the highest environmental protection priority on the Northwest Branch Stream Valley system and recommends alternative hard surface trail locations be studied.

In comparison to the Matthew Henson Greenway, the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Unit #5 is a highly environmentally sensitive area. A natural surface trail in this stream valley would provide the best protection for the erodible and hydric soils, the mature trees; the herpetological pond areas, the breeding, migratory, and interior dwelling birds which use these woods and uncommon plants and their communities. In addition, the historically significant Kemp Mill pond and millrace are found in this area. In view of the existing intrusions by gas and WSSC utility lines, extraordinary steps are deemed appropriate to preserve the aesthetics of the natural forest setting experienced in this developing urban area.

PART 1 – UPDATE TO THE COUNTYWIDE PARK TRAILS PLAN

Recognizes that a hard surface trail system in the Matthew Henson Greenway will provide residents of the more than 16,000 housing units with an attractive outdoor experience within roughly one mile of their homes.

The Matthew Henson Park is the only backyard for the residents of nearby multi-family dwellings. A hard surface trail built to ADA standards would greatly expand the recreational opportunities in Matthew Henson. People using wheelchairs, roller blades and strollers are not able to use typical natural surface trails. Recent trail user counts in Montgomery County have indicated over 10 times as many people using hard surface versus natural surface trails.

Provides a connection to the Montrose Parkway Trail.

The Matthew Henson Corridor was originally proposed for a highway. A corresponding rightof-way continues west of Rock Creek where the Montrose Parkway is proposed. Current designs call for a separate bike path along Montrose Parkway. A hard surface trail in Matthew Henson would complement the proposed Montrose Parkway trail.

Expands the Northwest Branch stream valley park boundaries to accommodate the trail while minimizing environmental impacts.

Unlike in Matthew Henson Park, there is an opportunity to expand park boundaries in this portion of the Northwest Branch Park to accommodate a hard surface trail. Future park acquisition lines already exist on the Indian Springs Country Club property. Only slight revisions to these park take lines would be necessary to accommodate a hard surface trail.

This approach means construction of a hard surface trail would await redevelopment of the golf course. However, this is an appropriate trade-off given the opportunity to protect a highly sensitive environmental area, which deserves a high level of protection.

Reconstruction of sewer lines in the Stream Valley in the future may also provide opportunities for a hard surface trail.

In terms of the environment, studies were done as part of the Trail Environmental Feasibility Study of Matthew Henson State Park, Matthew Henson Greenway and Northwest Branch Stream Valley, prepared in 1995 and reviewed in January 1996. This study concluded that a multi-purpose trail could be developed that could be permitted under current environmental guidelines. The proposed alignment would require additional environmental evaluation and careful design and engineering in order to avoid and minimize to the extent possible impacts to wetlands, stream channels, floodplains and sensitive habitats.

More detailed environmental studies are beyond the scope of this plan but will be undertaken as part of the facilities planning process for the trail.

One study, which should be initiated immediately, is a survey of rare, endangered, and threatened species. Such studies may affect trail alignment options

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Corridor 8: Upcounty Plan Objective: Provide a hard surface trail to serve the existing and future residents of Germantown, Clarksburg and Damascus.

Most of Montgomery County’s hard surface trails are located in the southern, more densely populated portion of the County. The 3.3-mile Magruder Branch hard surface multi-purpose trail in Damascus and approximately 3 miles of asphalt trail in Black Hill Regional Park are the only significant hard surface recreational trails in the Upcounty area.





The 1989 Germantown Master Plan proposed an extensive and well-planned system of pedestrian connections and bike paths along roadways. However, community master plans have not traditionally proposed hard surface recreational trails, relying instead on park master plans to meet this need.

Although individual park master plans in the Upcounty area, such as the Plan for Black Hill Regional Park, include paved trails, there is a strong need for a comprehensive look at how a better network of paved recreational trails can be provided in the Upcounty area.

Existing Conditions and Plans The Magruder Branch and Black Hill trails do not connect to many of the growing neighborhoods in Germantown and Clarksburg or to other existing and proposed Upcounty parks.

The 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan proposes a trail connection to Damascus Recreational Park as part of the 11-mile greenway network proposed for Clarksburg.

The Germantown Master Plan features a greenbelt concept that includes parkland owned by MNCPPC and the State of Maryland. The 1995 update of the Planning Guide to Trails proposes a multiuse trail through the North Germantown Greenbelt.

The Black Hill Regional Park Master Plan supports trail connectivity to other regional park facilities and planned communities.

Recommendations Provide a hard surface trail system that links Little Bennett, Ovid Hazen Wells, Damascus Regional, Goshen Recreational and Ridge Road Parks.

The concept, shown in Figure 15, features the existing Magruder Branch multi-purpose paved trail, the future Greenway Trail concept included in the Clarksburg Master Plan, the northern section of the Germantown Greenbelt, and a portion of the Seneca Greenway.

The concept also proposes a new trail connection extending in a north south direction from North Germantown Greenbelt through Goshen Recreation Park northward to Damascus Recreational Park. The concept recognizes Little Bennett Regional Park as a future major destination in the Upcounty.

Assign the Upcounty hard surface trail system highest priority in the park planning work program.

Several significant park planning studies affecting the Upcounty are presently underway or

soon to be underway. They affect the following parks:

o Ovid Hazen Wells Park o The Clarksburg Greenway o Little Bennett Regional Park

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At the same time, Germantown continues to build out and Clarksburg will soon open to development. A well thought out trail concept to guide both private and public development is essential now. Without such a concept, opportunities for public-private partnerships to Figure 15 - Corridor: Upcounty

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implement trails will be lost and individual park master plans will suffer from the absence of an overall trail vision.

This Plan recommends the same type of concept plan is also needed for natural surface trails.

This concept Plan should be established when this corridor is studied further.

Issues Needing Further Study The following issues must be addressed during planning, design, and implementation of the proposed

Upcounty trail system:

Providing hard surface trail access from Germantown neighborhoods to South Germantown Park.

Connecting Magruder Branch Stream Valley trail system to the North Germantown Greenbelt.

The Great Seneca Extension connects the Magruder Branch Stream Valley and the North Germantown Greenbelt, but opportunities for a hard surface trail in this portion of the Seneca Greenway may be limited due to topography, and the relatively narrow width of the Great Seneca Extension at this location.

For this reason, this Plan suggests an alternative hard surface trail connection be studied which avoids the Great Seneca stream valley. This suggested option, shown in Figure 15, would integrate Goshen Recreational Park (owned by M-NCPPC but not yet developed) into the trail system.

Evaluating the potential for hard surface trails in North Germantown Greenbelt.

Providing safe trail crossings of key roadways, including MD 27, Clopper Road, and MD 355.

Providing a hard surface trail in a segment of the Great Seneca Extension.

Informal trails already exist in this area. It has excellent habitat for forest interior dwelling birds and other wildlife. Hard surface trails could open up the forest canopy and interrupt the contiguous wooded acreage that is necessary for these species. Trail proposals will be carefully evaluated.

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Bikeways and Other Non-Park Trail Connectors This Plan focuses on trails within parks. However, there are trail facilities outside parks which are critical to creating an integrated trail system. Bikeways built as part of roadway projects are a key example.

Others are public use easements, utility rights-of-way, and sidewalks. All these facilities can enhance connectivity both between and within the eight park trail corridors.

Bikeways Bikeways that function as non-park trail connectors of Countywide significance should have the following characteristics (based on criteria developed by the Traffic Institute, Northwestern

University):

Safety Good maintenance Attractiveness Safe intersection crossings High quality pavement surface Clear, informative signs Security For the most part, bikeways that are separate from roadways will be the most desirable type of bikeway connector. However, as long as the above characteristics can be achieved, on-street connections would be suitable.

Bikeway connectors of countywide significance are identified on each of the Trail Corridor maps.

I-270 Corridor Bikeway Although not one of the eight park trail corridors, the I-270 Corridor Bikeway is an essential part of this Plan because bikeways here will connect the Upcounty and Downcounty hard surface park trails.

The opportunity exists in the I-270 Corridor to create a continuous bikepath, separate from major roads, the entire length of the corridor, from the Capital Crescent Trail to Clarksburg Town Center. This concept is shown in Figure 16. Community master plans for Gaithersburg, Rockville, Shady Grove, Germantown, and Clarksburg include segments of the bike path and the bike path already exists in many areas.

This bike path offers wonderful access to key elements of this Plan’s proposed park trail system and connects the hard surface recreational trails proposed for Upcounty and DownCounty as shown in Figure 5.

Existing Conditions and Plans

The I-270 Corridor Bikeway includes the following existing or proposed bikeways:

The Bethesda Trolley Trail, a combination of on-road bikeways and separate trails, provides a critical connection from Bethesda and the Capital Crescent Trail to the City of Rockville.

The Rockville Bicycle Beltway is included in the City’s 1997 bike plan update, as well as several other bikeways thorough Rockville.

PART 1 – COUNTYWIDE PARK TRAILS PLAN 2004 UPDATE

Gude Drive/Key West Avenue/Great Seneca Highway bike paths extend from Rockville north to Germantown.

The proposed Corridor Cities Transitway, which runs from the Shady Grove Metro Station to Clarksburg, also includes a separate bike path, linking destinations such as the Shady Grove Life Sciences area, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Germantown, and the Clarksburg town center.

The MD 355 bike path is proposed for most of Md 355 north of Rockville.

The Ridge Road/Md 27 I-270 Interchange bike path offers safe crossing of I-270.

The MD 355 bikepath in the Milestone area of Germantown east of I-270 continues the bikepath to the Clarksburg planning area.

The Clarksburg Master Plan bikeway system, which will be built as development occurs, will complete the I-270 Corridor bikepath.

Recommendations Designate a bike path from Rock Creek Park to Gude Drive as part of the Gude Recreational Park Master Plan.

Improve and maintain the Gude Drive bike path.

Sign the I-270 Corridor bikeway and make the necessary improvements to upgrade and maintain this important bike route.

Designate bike routes between the Rockville Bicycle Beltway and the Capital Crescent Trail capable of accommodating basic cyclists.

Implement the Bethesda Trolley Trail concept to Rockville’s bicycle beltway and the Rockville Metro Designate a route from the end of the Bethesda Trolley Trail near NIH to downtown Bethesda and Friendship Heights.

Provide shoulders along Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park and Sligo Creek Parkway to accommodate advanced cyclists.

Bikeway Planning The Countywide Bikeways Functional Master Plan was adopted in 2005. The Plan endorses an integrated bikeway and park trail system and identifies existing and proposed bike paths that would enhance connections between park trail corridors.

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