Large new apartment and retail buildings that residents fear will bring unbearable levels of traffic to Connecticut Avenue have been the focus of much debate surrounding the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan.
On Monday, the County Council’s Planning Committee will examine something that’s perhaps scarier.
Three of the four major intersections in Chevy Chase Lake are forecast to fail the county’s traffic standard even with the completion of an ongoing intersection improvement, even with the planned Purple Line light rail station and even if the area was to undergo no development at all.
That leaves the Committee with a difficult balancing act as it institutes a new master plan for the area of Connecticut Avenue between Jones Bridge Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive. It also buoys developers who argue projected congestion on the road is predominantly caused by existing thru-traffic, though residents and at least one councilmember question how the new development proposed in the Sector Plan wouldn’t add a significant amount of cars.
According to a Council staff report, the Committee can assume the Purple Line station will entice a much higher amount of people to ditch their cars in favor of mass transit, reduce the amount of proposed development or add more lanes and make other road fixes to increase traffic capacity.
It could also just raise the traffic standards to make the intersections compatible, an idea councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large) panned in March during the Committee’s first worksession on Chevy Chase Lake.
The most likely scenario is a combination of those options.
Deputy Council Staff Director Glenn Orlin recommended raising the traffic standard slightly with the rationale that the Purple Line station would serve as a reasonable alternative to drivers who choose to continue driving. The recommendation also includes a few adjustments to intersections and a last-ditch option to ease congestion with an additional turn lane at East-West Highway and Connecticut Avenue.
The full description of the potential intersection changes are in pages 5-7 of the Council staff report below.
The Planning Committee is meeting at 2 p.m. on Monday, a meeting that will be televised live on County Cable Montgomery.