Montgomery Parks, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has opened two of the four lanes of Little Falls Parkway for recreational use between Arlington Road and Dorset Avenue seven days a week. The space was created by reconfiguring the lanes on Little Falls Parkway so that two of the four lanes—on the east side of the median—are used for traffic with the two lanes west of the median being used for recreation. “Our goal is to repurpose a portion of this roadway for people to exercise and enjoy the outdoors,” said Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks. “In the spring, when it warms up, we will make it even better by creating a pilot linear park and adding activities and events.”
The linear park coming in the spring is part of a pilot project being developed in phases. During phase one, Montgomery Parks implemented a road diet from May through October 2022 and shut two of the four lanes of the parkway to vehicles to conduct traffic studies. The studies concluded that Little Falls Parkway functions well with just two lanes for vehicles. During October 2022, phase two of the project eliminated vehicles on the west side of the median and routed all traffic to the two lanes on the east side of the median.
The next and third phase of the project will begin in April 2023, when activities and furnishings will be added to the park including seating and tables, games and events. In the early summer of 2023, Montgomery Parks will launch a public engagement campaign for people to provide feedback about the new park and other aspects of the pilot. “We want to give people an opportunity to experience the park as it is meant to be so they can give us ideas and feedback about future design, amenities and programming,” added Riley. “This is a new concept for the department, and we want it to be a great experience for everyone to enjoy.” This section of Little Falls Parkway was previously part of Montgomery Parks’ Open Parkways program between River Road and Arlington Road (1.3 miles).
The Open Parkways program launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide more outdoor space for recreation and exercise by closing portions of three parkways to vehicles on weekends. Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of visitors have used the Open Parkways and the program remains popular. The other two open parkways, Sligo Creek Parkway and Beach Drive will not be affected by the Little Falls Parkway pilot program. Learn more about the pilot project online.