Visions for a more connected and less congested White Oak neighborhood head to the Montgomery County Planning Board Thursday where staff members will present recommendations from the White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan. A two-year study of the neighborhood kicked off in February 2011.
The 104-page staff draft analyzes land use and transit patterns within the plan area, a swath of East Montgomery County that covers about 3,000 acres and is bounded to the north by Cherry Hill Road; to the south by I-495/Capital Beltway; to the east by Prince George's County and to the west by the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park.
The study of the neighborhood found:
- Residents drive more than the average Montgomery County resident and commute longer to work.
- People in White Oak and Hillandale are less likely to use mass transit than the average county resident, and less likely to walk or bike to work.
- East Montgomery County schools are full, and will continue to grow, according to data from Montgomery County Public Schools.
- Residents in the plan boundaries make about 22 percent less than the county's average household income, probably because there are less dual-income homes and more single-person households.
- More single people and more renters reside in the plan area than the countywide percentages.
In an effort to ease congestion and better use the available collection of retail and residential development, planners made a number of transit and land-use recommendations.
Among the transit recommendations:
- Create a series of roadway interchanges at different heights to improve traffic congestion on Route 29/Columbia Pike. The proposed interchanges are at Stewart Lane, Tech Road/Industrial Parkway, Musgrove Road, Fairland Road, Greencastle Road and Blackburn Road.
- Rebuild and open the Old Columbia Pike Bridge over the Paint Branch watershed.
- Create more bike lanes on Prosperity Drive, Powder Mill Road, Plum Orchard Drive, Industrial Parkway
- Create a shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists on FDA Boulevard
Among the land-use recommendations:
- A new elementary school on the 185-acre Percontee property near the intersection of Cherry Hill Road and Route 29.
- A new fire station near Route 29 and Tech Road.
- Redeveloping White Oak Shopping Center to create mixed-use, residential and commercial, project.
- Create small public gathering spaces within both the White Oak Shopping Center and Hillandale Shopping Center.
- Create a park near Cherry Hill Road with space for an athletic field, community garden and dog park.
The plan also strongly urged the creation of a Bus-Rapid Transit program with a line servicing the Route 29 corridor, from the Silver Spring Transit Center to Burtonsville.
Following a presentation to the planning board on April 4, a public hearing and a series of work sessions will be held on the recommendations before it goes before the Montgomery County Council in November.