Council Committee to Review Transportation for White Oak Master Plan

White Oak Science GatewayMontgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1, will begin its review of the Draft White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan with the first of five tentatively scheduled worksessions on the plan. The first worksession will concentrate on the transportation improvements that will be needed to support major development on the east side of the County and the economic cost to build that infrastructure.

The PHED Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, has scheduled its other worksessions for July 3, 7, 14 and 16. The full Council is tentatively scheduled to meet on the plan on July 22 and to take action on it on July 29.

The worksessions will be held the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. They will be televised live on television or online by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast will be streamed here.

The PHED Committee worksession will address the recommendations on the White Oak plan made by the County Planning Board. The Planning Board’s presentation to the Council is available on the Council’s web site via video on demand here.

The White Oak Plan provides the County Council with the opportunity to shape the long-term goals and objectives for the area that spans Hillandale, White Oak/Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Cherry Hill. When the federal government consolidated the FDA at the White Oak Federal Research Center, it created the catalyst for business opportunities related to the federal agency. The County will re-examine the master plan as a first step toward realizing those opportunities.

The Planning Board’s Draft Master Plan envisions the reorientation of the area’s shopping centers from the existing auto-dependent suburban model to a mixed-use area served by transit. Residents there have expressed a desire for expanded dining and shopping opportunities and more jobs closer to home.

The County’s Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) Fiscal Impact Analysis quantifies the County’s capital and operating costs due to the proposed development. OMB identifies a need for about $567 million in capital projects over the life of the plan. Most of this amount—$479 million—will be for transportation improvements.

Only a small portion of the estimated spending would be for road improvements that add capacity. The main projects that would add road capacity are assumed to be funded with federal and/or state aid. These include the U.S. Route 29 interchanges at Stewart Lane and at Tech Road/Industrial Parkway within the master plan boundary, and the U.S. 29 interchanges at Fairland Road/Musgrove Road, at Greencastle Road, and at Blackburn Road further north in Fairland. The cumulative cost estimate for those five interchanges is estimated to be $538 million.

The Department of Finance’s Economic Impact Analysis estimates that the development called for in the plan would generate a positive cash flow to the County. Finance’s revenue/cost model shows a net inflow of about $3.3 million annually with the current residential and commercial development, which translates to about $128 million (including inflation) over the next 30 years. However, the net surplus to the County would increase by more than $1.5 billion over the next three decades with the master-planned development yet to occur.

The PHED Committee schedule regarding the White Oak Master Plan:

July 1 – Discussion of transportation issues

July 3 – Transportation issues, continued

July 7 – Discussion of land use issues

July 14 – Land use issues, continued

July 16 – Land use issues, continued

The full Council’s schedule regarding the White Oak Master Plan:

July 22 – Full Council worksession

July 29 – Final vote

The complete version of the plan, which was updated in December 2013, can be found here.

The Planning Board’s proposed amendments to the 2012-2016 Subdivision Staging Policy (approved by the County Council on November 13, 2012) that support recommendations in the Draft Master Plan can be viewed here.

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