Montgomery Parks to Suspend Open Parkways Program on Little Falls Parkway Beginning June 18, 2022. Department will Study the Permanent Reduction of Portions of Little Falls Parkway from Four to Two Lanes

by MCS Staff

Montgomery Parks(opens in a new tab), part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, announces a temporary suspension of the Open Parkways program(opens in a new tab) along Little Falls Parkway(opens in a new tab) between River Road and Arlington Road (1.3 miles), starting June 18, 2022, to study the operational effect of reducing the parkway from four lanes to two.

The study area will be from Dorset Avenue to Arlington Road, with two lanes of Little Falls Parkway remaining open to vehicles 24/7. The study will allow Montgomery Parks and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation to evaluate the effects of a two-lane reduction on traffic operations both for the parkway and neighboring streets.

This pilot program will allow Montgomery Parks and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation to analyze traffic conditions on Little Falls Parkway with one lane of traffic in each direction. Parks will consider permanently reducing Little Falls Parkway from four lanes to two lanes to repurpose one of the existing roadways into a linear park, which would be accessible to park users seven days a week. The study is expected to extend through the end of 2022 and may involve several phases, including configurations that could allow safe recreational use within unused portions of the roadway.

Depending on the results of the study, Montgomery Parks will consider permanently reducing Little Falls Parkway from four lanes to two in order to repurpose one of the existing roadways for use as a linear park, which would be accessible to park users seven days a week. The study is expected to extend through the end of September 2022 and may involve several phases, including configurations that allow safe recreational use within unused portions of the roadway during the study period.

“If our test phase concludes that Little Falls Parkway can function efficiently as a single lane parkway in each direction, similar to Beach Drive and Sligo Creek Parkway, then we can repurpose half the Parkway into a linear park unlike anything that currently exists in the United States,” said Mike Riley, Director of Montgomery Parks. “I see this as a win-win solution that could eliminate traffic impacts caused by weekend road closures while creating a permanent, enhanced “Open Parkway” experience for the community to enjoy seven days a week. We had over 200,000 users enjoy the Open Parkway on Little Falls since 2020, and we expect that a new linear, amenitized park would be even more popular.”

“I appreciate the ongoing engagement of Montgomery Parks and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation in addressing residents’ concerns about traffic and safety while also pursuing a cost-effective, innovative opportunity to reimagine our public infrastructure,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who serves as the Council’s lead for Parks. “I look forward to continued public engagement and further study of this proposal to promote public safety and enhance the quality of life.”

The public will have the opportunity to provide feedback as the study progresses.

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. The other two open parkways, Sligo Creek Parkway and Beach Drive will not be affected by the Little Falls Parkway pilot program.

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1 comment

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J Geraci July 4, 2022 - 8:33 pm

So you’re planning to spend money to study what a choked artery looks like, following your experiment with county citizens? Exactly what hypotheses are you testing? Do you understand that the Capital Crescent Trail runs roughly adjacent to the parkway? If you’re trying to save lives and maximize your budget, why not eliminate invasive plants and easily cultivate domestic wildflowers along miles of county highways rather than cut the lawns or clog more arteries.

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