County Executive proposes to delay fix198now recommendations
February 1, 2018
Supporters of a safer 198 may be disappointed to learn that the Burtonsville Access Road project might be postponed again.
County Executive Ike Leggett, who lives less than a mile away from the proposed project, announced on January 16 that this long-awaited project would be delayed by at least another six years.
Burtonsville residents may view this news as further evidence that this community has been long-neglected. In fact, this Access Road project has been repeatedly delayed since it was first proposed two decades ago, in the 1997 Fairland Master Plan (below).
At community meetings to discuss ways to make 198 safer, residents overwhelmingly supported the Burtonsville Access Road as a way to make it easier to access the shops and restaurants on the north side of MD 198.
In addition to improving safety, the Access Road would boost Burtonsville's aging commercial district by providing a unique pedestrian-friendly environment that could attract more customers, improve business, and foster greater sense of community.
Revitalization is critical because shoppers increasingly are avoiding old, run down strip malls and are instead spending their time and money at village centers that can offer new experiences and attractions, such as Maple Lawn in Fulton, Ellsworth Place in Silver Spring, or Downtown Crown in Gaithersburg.
Two renderings from the 2008 Burtonsville Community Legacy Plan of the Access Road are shown below.
Below is another explanation of why this project is important, written on another occasion that the project was delayed, nearly ten years ago, before the Amish Market relocated:
"We need to give people a reason to stop in Burtonsville. The access road could do that. It would help to create a pedestrian-oriented 'village center.' By going behind Route 198, it would provide access to properties currently landlocked by existing businesses, providing opportunities for new operations to set up shop. It would also remove local traffic from the highway, making it easier for people outside the area to visit. One such parcel, near Burtonsville Elementary School, has been a rumored location for the Amish Market to move to when kicked out of its current home in the Burtonsville Shopping Center. "A decision to delay funding for the Burtonsville Access Road, even in the name of fiscal responsibility, would be nothing short of a mistake. Why kick the business district when it's already down? If anything, this road - and the revitalization - needs to be pushed up."
Although the County Executive's recommended budget proposes to delay the Burtonsville Access Road, there is an opportunity to accelerate the project.
The County Council has final decision on the budget and could vote to accelerate funding the project in the final budget if they hear enough convincing arguments from constituents.
Here are two things you can do to help...
1. Please sign this petition in support of the Access Road. It only takes 10 seconds to fill out!
2. Testify in person. Join me this Wednesday at the public hearing in Rockville and testify in support of the Burtonsville Access Road project. More information below:
Wednesday, February 7th 7:30-9:30 pm Council office building 100 Maryland Ave Rockville, MD 20850 Sign up to testify here First time testifying? Don't know what to say?
Contact me and I will walk you through the process and give you some tips.
UPDATE: If you cannot make the evening public hearing on February 7, there is also one on Tuesday, February 6th at 7:30 pm and on Wednesday the 7th at 1:30 pm. Sign up for the FY19 Capital Budget and FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) public hearings on the county council website. Sign up early before the spots fill up!