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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 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, as well as trail connections from Little Falls Trail and the adjacent neighborhood.

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

Parks has retained Sabra Wang & Associates to conduct this study and develop alternatives. The first community meeting was held on June 13, 2018. Links to download the presentation and concept sketches:

 

June 13, 2018, Capital Crescent Trail at Little Falls Parkway Presentation Including Concept Alternatives

General Conditions Sketch- common elements to all alternatives that will be incorporated into the Recommended Alternative

  • CCT will connect to existing trail networks, south of Bethesda Pool and north to trail at Fairfax/Little Falls Parkway.
  • New pedestrian-scale lighting will be included at CCT crossing.
  • Potential Arlington road diet (4 lane reduction to 2 lanes). The study currently underway by MC DOT.
  • Potential closing off of redundant Bethesda Pool Entrance from Little Falls Pkwy.
  • Traffic calming will be added to Hillandale Road near the Bethesda pool entrance/trail crossing.

Alt 1: Trail Diversion to Arlington Road / Little Falls Pkwy Intersection

  • Existing CCT crossing will be removed.
  • The trail will be reoriented to the intersection of Arlington Road / Little Falls Pkwy.
  • The traffic signal will provide a dedicated trail-only signal phase for crossing Little Falls Pkwy, while all other traffic is held.
  • Little Falls Pkwy will revert to a four-lane road

Alt 2: Trail Diversion to Hillandale Road / Little Falls Pkwy Intersection

  • Existing CCT crossing will be removed.
  • The trail will be reoriented to the intersection of Hillandale Road / Little Falls Pkwy.
  • Trail traffic will cross Little Falls Pkwy during Hillandale Road’s green traffic signal.
  • Little Falls Pkwy will revert to a four-lane road.

Alt 3: Traditional Traffic Signal at the trail crossing

  • A traffic signal will be installed at the existing crossing to control right-of-way between trail users and motorists.
  • Trail users will not have to request a signal during peak demand times.
  • Trail signal will be activated by the pedestrian and/or bike detection during non-peak demand times
  • Little Falls Pkwy will revert to a four-lane road.

Alt 4:  Pedestrian-activated Pushbutton (HAWK) traffic Signal at the trail crossing

  • A non-traditional traffic signal will be installed to control right-of-way between trail users and motorists.
    • The signal operates similar to a traditional traffic signal, except that is dark (not lighted) for drivers on Little Falls Pkwy, until a trail user requested a signal to cross.
    • The signal then provides a red light for Little Falls Pkwy and a WALK signal for trail users. After the WALK signal ends, subsequent activations require a minimum wait time (e.g. 30 seconds) before Little Falls Pkwy receives a red light again.
  • Little Falls Pkwy will remain a two-lane road through the crossing, with bollards and lane closures replaced with curbs and grass, respectively.

Alt 5:  Stop Sign control on Little Falls Pkwy

  • Trail crossing stops signs will be removed.
  • Stop signs will be installed for Little Falls Pkwy traffic.
  • Little Falls Pkwy will remain a two-lane road through the crossing, with bollards and lane closures replaced with curbs and grass, respectively.

Alt 6:  Trail Tunnel under Little Falls Pkwy

  • The trail will be constructed in a tunnel under little Falls Pkwy at the location of the current crossing.
  • Existing trail crossing will be removed
  • Little Falls Pkwy will revert to a four-lane road.

Alt 7:  Trail Bridge over Little Falls Pkwy

  • A trail bridge will be constructed over little Falls Pkwy at the location of the current crossing.
  • Existing trail crossing will be removed
  • Little Falls Pkwy will revert to a four-lane road.

Alt 8:  Closure of Little Falls Pkwy between Arlington Road and Hillandale Road

  • All travel lanes along Little Falls Pkwy are removed between Arlington Road and Hillandale Road and replaced with green space
  • Traffic signals are removed at Arlington Road and Hillandale Road
  • Little Falls Pkwy traffic to and from the North will connect directly to Arlington Road; Little Falls Pkwy traffic to and from the South will connect directly to Hillandale Road.
  • The CCT continues uninterrupted through the new green space.

Alt 9:  Little Falls Pkwy to Remain 2 lanes between Arlington Road and Hillandale Road

  • Current 2-lane configuration becomes permanent by replacing the bollards and unused pavement with standard curbs and green space, respectively.
  • Speed table (a wide speed hump that includes a crosswalk) is added to mitigate speeding during off-peak times when the crossing is less traveled by either trail users and/or motorists.
  • The existing traffic control at the crossing remains as is.

Alt 10:  Little Falls Pkwy will alternate between 2 lanes and 4 lanes between Arlington Road and Hillandale Road

  • The current 2-lane configuration will dynamically change from 2 lanes to four lanes depending on:
    • Time of Day: 4 lanes during peak commuting conditions and 2 lanes off-peak; or
    • Seasonality: 2 lanes in warmer months and 4 lanes in colder months when trail use drops.
  • Speed table (a wide speed hump that includes a crosswalk) is added to mitigate speeding during off-peak times when the crossing is less traveled by either trail users and/or motorists.
  • The existing traffic control at the trail crossing remains as is.

Alt 11:  Little Falls Pkwy to Remain 2 lanes between Arlington Road and Hillandale Road; Arlington Road signal replaced with a roundabout

  • Current 2-lane configuration becomes permanent by replacing the bollards and unused pavement with standard curbs and green space, respectively.
  • Speed table (a wide speed hump that includes a crosswalk) is added to mitigate speeding during off-peak times when the crossing is less traveled by either trail users and/or motorists.
  • The traffic signal at Arlington Road and Little Falls Pkwy is replaced with a roundabout to improve intersection efficiency
  • The existing traffic control at the trail crossing remains as is.

Alt 12:  Little Falls Pkwy to Remain 2 lanes between Arlington Road and Hillandale Road; Arlington Road signal replaced with a roundabout

  • The current 2-lane configuration will become permanent, however, the opposing northbound and southbound travel lanes on Little Falls Pkwy will be located adjacent to each other, removing the existing grass median.
  • Unused pavement will be replaced with green space.
  • Speed table (a wide speed hump that includes a crosswalk) is added to mitigate speeding during off-peak times when the crossing is less traveled by either trail users and/or motorists.
  • This two-lane configuration for Little Falls Pkwy extends southward to Dorset Road.
  • The existing traffic control at the trail crossing remains as is.

A program capable of opening PDF files is required to view the presentation and sketches: https://get.adobe.com/reader/

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 reduction along Little Falls Parkway
June 13, 2018

7:00 p.m. – 9:00p.m.

Community Meeting #1 – Project overview and concept alternatives

– View presentation

– Review the meeting notes

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
Fall 2018 Community Meeting #2
– Present top three alternative designs
– Public feedback will be requested
TBD
Winter 2018 Planning Board Meeting – Present preferred alternative M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks
Montgomery Regional Office
Auditorium
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

M-NCPPC Staff Contact:

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

 

 

Last Updated: July 19, 2018