Capital Crescent Trail Crossing at Little Falls Parkway

Division: Park Development
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Project Description

The Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) was created in the 1990s as part of one of the most successful of the Rails-to-Trails conversion efforts. A former railroad line (the Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad) and extending for approximately 11 miles from Silver Spring in Montgomery County to Georgetown in Washington, D.C., the CCT has become the most popular shared-use trail in Montgomery County with thousands of users each day. Little Falls Parkway (LFP) was constructed in the early 1960s to provide the community with greater access to the Little Falls Stream Valley Park. At that time, the train crossings of LFP were relatively infrequent and safely controlled. However, trails do not function like railroads, and the existing uncontrolled, multi-lane crossing has presented continual safety issues between the trail users and drivers on the Parkway. The purpose of the project is to develop a permanent safer crossing solution for CCT users at Little Falls Parkway. The outcome of this project will be the selection of the preferred alternative with community input, and the development of a 30% level design approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board. The project will also incorporate traffic calming measures along Little Falls Parkway, Arlington Road, Hillandale Road, and the Bethesda Pool entrances.

The previous Capital Crescent Trail Connector project has also been incorporated into the Capital Crescent Trail Crossing at Little Falls Parkway project. The Capital Crescent Trail Connector will tie Little Falls Trail into the Capital Crescent Trail. The Option “D” alignment for the Connector was approved by the Planning Board in 2016, which consists of a trail connection alongside Hillandale Road.

Background

In January 2017, Parks initiated a Vision Zero response to increasing trail user safety (Montgomery County Vision Zero Information). This interim design consists of installing high-visibility flexible bollards to create a temporary “road diet” along Little Falls Parkway (between Hillandale and Arlington roads) that reduced the roadway from four lanes to two inside-only lanes at the crossing. The interim improvements also included additional safety signage at the CCT crossing and an educational outreach program by Park Police. While there were some initial concerns raised by the driving community about these changes, Parks has responded to concerns by incorporating minor adjustments to the interim conditions. These adjustments reduced redundant signage, reduced glare from reflections, and opened the southbound travel lanes sooner. Parks believes driver behavior has successfully adjusted to the interim conditions, and accidents at the crossing have been dramatically reduced.

The project goal is to develop a permanent safer crossing for all trail users while minimizing vehicle delay, construction/operations costs, and environmental impacts.

Status/Project Update

  • October 25, 2019

At the September 12, 2019, Montgomery County Planning Board meeting regarding the M-NCPPC FY21-26 Capital Improvements Project (CIP) budget, the Planning Board voted to delay funding permanent improvements for the Capital Crescent Trail crossing Little Falls Parkway project until FY25-26. The interim road diet will remain in place until permanent improvements are implemented. Parks will continue to monitor safety and traffic conditions at the crossing and we are assessing the installation of a raised crosswalk and additional street lighting along Little Falls Parkway and Hillandale Road.

Access the video of the September 12, 2019, Planning Board meeting: September 2019 Montgomery County Planning Board Archive Stream (click on “Item 4”)

  • June 20, 2019

On June 13, the Montgomery County Planning Board voted to divert the Capital Crescent Trail to cross at the traffic signal at the intersection of Little Falls Parkway and Arlington Road and to remove the interim road diet by re-opening all four traffic lanes along Little Falls Parkway. Park staff are currently studying the Planning Board approved the recommendation for inclusion in the FY 2021 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) budget. The interim road diet will remain in place until the construction of the approved recommendation. Montgomery Parks and the Planning Board continue to welcome all public input, which can be provided to the Planning Board at MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org.

  • May 23, 2019

Please see the links below for additional information on Montgomery Park’s recommendation for permanent safety improvements at the Capital Crescent Trail Crossing at Little Falls Parkway.

The full facility plan report and appendices can be downloaded in PDF format below:

May 17, 2019

  • Montgomery Parks will present a proposal to the Montgomery County Planning Board for permanent safety improvements at the intersection of the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) and Little Falls Parkway in Bethesda on Thursday, June 13, 2019. We will provide additional information and publish the recommended site plan and project report on this website a minimum of two weeks prior to the Planning Board presentation.

February 2019 Update:

  • Parks has closed the Open Town Hall forum as of February 4, 2019. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with us as we work to develop a permanent, safer crossing. We expect to provide additional details about the permanent changes for the Capital Crescent Trail Crossing at Little Falls Parkway in early Spring 2019, to allow time for all interested parties to review the Preferred Alternative, study results, and associated supporting data before the project is presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board. Updates will be posted to the Montgomery Parks project webpage and other Park’s social media. Parks has retained Sabra Wang & Associates to conduct this study and develop alternatives. Typical general improvements common to all alternatives include lighting, assessment of Bethesda Pool driveway, environmental, assessment/improvement of adjacent sidewalk and trail connections, and assessment of road diet and traffic calming feasibility on adjacent roadways.

October 2018 Update:

  • The second community meeting was held on October 9, 2018, as part of a joint meeting with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT) on bicycling and pedestrian projects in Bethesda. The entire presentation, including the three preferred alternatives, is available for download on Montgomery County DOT’s website.

 

View the summary table for the three alternatives shown below. A program capable of opening PDF files is required to view the presentation and sketches. Click here to download a version of Adobe Reader.

Alternative A: Permanent Road Diet

Making the current interim road diet permanent: Re-configuration of Little Falls Parkway into a two-lane (one lane in each direction) road with an uncontrolled speed table crossing. Slight (+7 seconds) increase in average travel time for motorists compared to pre-road diet conditions. No change in trail user wait times.

Alternative B: Trail Re-orientation to Traffic Signal (To Arlington Road)

Re-orientation of the Capital Crescent Trail to the Arlington Road intersection, with a controlled signalized crossing and a permanent road diet. Additional (+13 seconds) increase in average travel time for motorists compared to pre-road diet conditions. Increase in trail user wait times (+30 seconds).

Alternative C: Pedestrian Bridge

Install a pedestrian overpass bridge over Little Falls Parkway.


Calendar and Meeting Notes

Links to review meeting notes and presentations will be attached to each applicable calendar event as it is scheduled and completed.

DATE/TIME
DISCUSSION AND MEETING NOTES
LOCATION
Winter 2018 – Data collection: Traffic and trail user counts, field survey, crash data
– Development of concept alternatives
– Ongoing observation of interim “road diet” four to two-lane reductions along Little Falls Parkway
June 13, 2018 Community Meeting #1 – To present the project overview and concept alternatives
-Concept drawings will be presented
-Public feedback will be requested
Somerset Elementary School
All-Purpose Room/Cafeteria
5811 Warwick Place
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Summer 2018 Continue to solicit community input and develop three preliminary alternatives to 10% design
October 9, 2018
6:30 – 8:30pm
Community Meeting #2
– Joint Bethesda Bikeways meeting with Montgomery County DOT
– Present the top three alternative designs
– Public feedback encouraged
Bethesda Chevy Chase High School
Cafeteria
4301 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
Spring 2019
* Thursday, June 13, 2019 Planning Board Meeting – Present recommended plan
– Approximate start time to be published on the Montgomery County Planning Board Agenda webpage before the meeting
M-NCPPC
Montgomery Regional Office
Auditorium
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

* Date and time subject to change. Please confirm the schedule on the Montgomery Planning Board Agenda webpage closer to the date.

 

M-NCPPC Staff Contact

Andrew Tsai, P.E., Project Manager
Andrew.Tsai@MontgomeryParks.org
(301) 495-2508

 

Last Updated: October 29, 2019