October 12, 2022

Phase Two of Little Falls Parkway Pilot Project to Begin in October as Montgomery Parks Aims to Develop a Linear Park on Two Lanes of the Four-Lane Roadway

Phase Two of Little Falls Parkway Pilot Project to Begin in October as Montgomery Parks Aims to Develop a Linear Park on Two Lanes of the Four-Lane Roadway
Montgomery Parks will again reconfigure lanes on Little Falls Parkway for Phase Two of the pilot project to repurpose two lanes of the parkway in Bethesda between Arlington Road and Dorset Avenue and create a linear park. Work is scheduled to begin on Monday, Oct. 17.

The new park will add much-needed recreational space in an area where land is at a premium. It will be adjacent to the Capital Crescent Trail, one of the most popular trails in Montgomery Parks’ system.

The ultimate planned linear park will be located on a portion of Little Falls Parkway that was previously part of Montgomery Parks’ Open Parkways program between River Road and Arlington Road (1.3 miles). That portion of the Open Parkways program was suspended last summer to study the operational effects of permanently reducing a segment of the Parkway from four lanes to two.

Phase One of the pilot project implemented a road diet from Arlington to Dorset, with one lane in each direction and a median in the middle of the traffic flow. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and Montgomery Parks independently completed several rounds of traffic counts during Phase One of the pilot and determined that Little Falls Parkway functioned well with two lanes, allowing the project to proceed to Phase Two.

During Phase Two, both directions of the remaining two lanes of traffic will move onto the east side of the median between Arlington and Dorsett, currently used for northbound traffic. This realignment will eliminate vehicles in the current southbound lanes while maintaining the other two lanes of Little Falls Parkway for vehicles.

Montgomery Parks and MCDOT will continue to independently evaluate the effects of the two-lane reduction on traffic operations on the parkway and neighboring streets. The roadway shoulders will remain closed until the southbound lanes are safe for community use.

In the spring, Montgomery Parks plans to launch a temporary linear park in the southbound lanes between Arlington and Dorset, with space for walking and biking as well as programming that includes games, events and tables with seating. Once the temporary linear park is in place, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on Phase Two of the Little Falls Parkway Linear Park pilot project.

“We are excited to build on the success of our Open Parkways Program and repurpose traffic lanes to provide additional recreational space for park users,” said Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks. “We believe that Phase Two of this pilot will show that Little Falls Parkway can continue to function well for motorists with two lanes while allowing bicyclists, pedestrians and other park users to enjoy a new linear park, unlike anything that exists in our park system today.”

The Open Parkways program launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis to provide more outdoor space for recreation and exercise by closing portions of three parkways to vehicles on weekends. Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of visitors have used the Open Parkways and the program remains popular. The other two open parkways, Sligo Creek Parkway and Beach Drive, will not be affected by the Little Falls Parkway pilot program.

Learn more about the Pilot project online.