By Andrew Metcalf, Bethesda Magazine
Montgomery County plans to start construction next month on a long-awaited project to realign roads near the White Flint Metro station to create a more defined street grid that could allow new developments to move forward in the area.
The “Western Workaround” will realign Executive Boulevard where it meets Old Georgetown Road and add a new street that will create rectangular properties near the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and the Montgomery County Aquatic Center. The county estimates the road realignment project to cost $55 million.
“It’s exciting,” Dee Metz, who oversees development in White Flint for the county, said. “It’s the first step of the grid process.”
The county plans to start construction Nov. 8 on the first phase of the workaround, which will relocate and straighten Executive Boulevard starting at Marinelli Road and connect it with a new east-west road called Market Street that will also be constructed. The road work will also extend Executive Boulevard from Market Street to meet Old Georgetown Road near the Grand Park Avenue entrance to the Pike & Rose development.
To allow the construction to happen, the County Council’s transportation committee approved a resolution Thursday that gives the county permission to take property from the owners of land that has housed two car dealerships across from Pike & Rose. The county is negotiating with the property owner, VOB, and expects a land swap deal to be completed soon—possibly negating the need for the county to take the land.
During the committee meeting, VOB representatives said they would lose about 11,000 square feet of property even if the county gave VOB additional land on a parcel that would be created when Old Georgetown Road is squared near where Executive Boulevard currently meets the road. The triangular piece of land would be part of the land swap. Despite this, the representatives said they mostly approved of the deal and expect to have an agreement with the county in place within the next week—possibly before the resolution comes before the full council Tuesday.
County Council member Roger Berliner, who chairs the committee, said the swap would provide VOB with properties that could be more valuable for future development.
The Western Workaround was first detailed as part of the White Flint Sector Plan that was approved in 2010.
“This piece is so important to get done,” Berliner said. “We’ve been waiting on this piece for a long time.”
The Western Workaround will also square off property where Gables Residential is planning a 476-unit mixed-use project on a 5-acre property that Executive Boulevard currently runs through. And the workaround helps enable the county to move forward with a $22.5 million, 650-space parking garage to replace the surface parking lot at the conference center where a realigned Executive Boulevard will be constructed.