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At-Grade Intersection Improvement MD Route 97 Georgia Avenue at Randolph Road

Project Details

2.1 Project Overview

Aerial view of the subject project site.
Aerial view of the subject project site. Photo source: MDSHA

The purpose of the proposed project, which is located in Montgomery County, Maryland, is to improve traffic operations for vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians using the MD 97/ Randolph Road intersection. The planning study has investigated methods to improve the levels of service (LOS) and reduce congestion at this crucial intersection, which should enhance the performance of the entire network of intersections in the area. The planning study team has concentrated on grade separated intersection improvements that will promote transit use by emphasizing intermodal access to transit services. The improvements should facilitate intermodal access to the Metro Station at Glenmont, particularly for bicycles and pedestrians. The study limits extend for approximately 2,000 feet north and south of the intersection along MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) and approximately 1,500 feet both east and west of the intersection along Randolph Road. The existing intersection is operating at a level of service (LOS) "F" for both a.m. and p.m. peak hours (a.m. v/c=1.21 and p.m. v/c=1.15). Furthermore, traffic forecasts show that these condi-tions will worsen with a projected 91 percent increase in MD 97 traffic and a 53 percent increase in Randolph Road traffic by the year 2020 based on existing and projected average daily traffic or ADTs. The traffic congestion is also compounded when the Kensington Volunteer Fire Company, situated directly on the southeast corner of the intersection, preempts the signal at the intersection in order to enter and exit its facility.

2.2 Project History and Development

The MD 97/Randolph Road project has been a focus of the State Highway Administration (SHA) and Montgomery County for many years. Continuing increases in traffic volumes, and a subsequent degradation in levels of service along with increasing accidents, have elevated this project to one of the SHA's top priorities and Montgomery County's top highway transportation project.

Historically, project planning began in the late 1990's, with location and design approval granted in 2002. Once in design, the project was taken to the preliminary review milestone (30%) in January 2004 and semi-final review (65%) occurred in November 2004. Right-of-way plats were issued in January 2007. Due to various issues between the SHA and the county resulting in continuing negotiations, the project has remained in a pre-final review status.

2.3 Project Purpose

Photograph of the existing project area, Georgia Avenue at the intersection of Layhill Road.
The existing project area, Georgia Avenue at the
intersection of Layhill Road.

The purpose of the proposed project, which is located in Montgomery County, Maryland, is to improve traffic operations for vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians using the MD 97/ Randolph Road intersection. The planning study has investigated methods to improve the levels of service (LOS) and reduce congestion at this crucial intersection, which should enhance the performance of the entire network of intersections in the area. The planning study team has concentrated on improvements that will promote transit use by emphasizing inter-modal access to transit services. The improvements should facilitate inter-modal access to the Metro Station at Glenmont, particularly bicycle and pedestrian access. The study limits extend for approximately 2,000 feet north and south of the intersection along MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) and approximately 1,500 feet both east and west of the intersection along Randolph Road. The existing intersection is operating at a LOS F for both a.m. and p.m. peak hours (a.m.. v/c=1.21 and p.m. v/c=1.15). Furthermore, traffic forecasts show that these conditions will worsen with a projected 91 percent increase in MD 97 traffic and a 53 percent increase in Randolph Road traffic by the year 2020 (based on existing and projected ADTs). The traffic congestion is also compounded when the Kensington Volunteer Fire Company, situated directly on the southeast corner of the intersection, preempts the signal at the intersection in order to enter and exit their facility.

2.4 Project Challenges

Project challenges are significant and include utility relocations. PEPCO is the local electricity provider and has a 69,000-volt line running beneath the existing intersection. Additionally, Verizon has significant communication lines beneath the intersection. Due to the excavation required for the tunnel, both of these utilities must be relocated outside of the footprint of the grade separation. The relocation challenge has been to find a suitable alternate location for the utilities, as well as design and construction timing. It is anticipated that construction of the relocated utilities will require two years to complete prior to advertisement of the roadway project.

Maintenance of Traffic (MOT): MOT during construction is complicated by this is a tightly constrained intersection with business and residential properties close to this intersection. To construct the tunnel in the same footprint as the existing intersection will require seven phases of MOT to allow the structure to be built in phases while maintaining traffic. This will present construction and public relation challenges.

The Kensington Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD). Located in the southwest quadrant of the intersection, the KVFD, serves the community with emergency services. In order to build the project, the property is envisioned as a total take to allow detour roadways to be built, thus providing space to build the tunnel. The KVFD is a privately owned facility. The SHA and Montgomery County have declined to condemn this site until a replacement facility can be provided so that the community has no lapse in emergency service. The existing site is outdated. The State's appraisal and subsequent purchase offer, as required by law, has been rejected by the Fire Department, and the State and the County have been negotiating the source of funding to provide a replacement facility.

2.5 Project Status

The design of the MD 97/Randolph Road project remains 65 to 70 percent complete. Upon funding approvals this project will proceed to advertisement.

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Updated: 10/31/2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000