Mark Pierzchala on the Impact of I-270 Widening on Rockville

Detail of Rockville from the interactive map of the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study.

Gov. Hogan’s plans to add lanes to I-270 are now two years old and as controversial as ever, in part because residents still don’t know what to expect. I have fought against this plan from the start, and if it continues to go forward, I will work tirelessly to minimize the impact.

Options have narrowed, and the state seems to prefer those with two managed (toll) lanes in each direction because of the revenue they would provide. With these, the interstate would expand from 12 to 16 lanes through Rockville.

Under current plans, it’s unclear whether—and how many—backyards would shrink. Whatever happens, our City will see disruption for some number of years.

Some or all of the bridges over the highway may have to be rebuilt. The Gude Drive overpass will be used to provide ramps for the managed lanes. This will cause changes in traffic patterns for Woodley Gardens, King Farm, College Gardens, West End, Rockshire, Fallsmead, and nearby neighborhoods. Streets likely affected: Nelson Street, College Parkway, Gude Drive, Wootton Parkway, Watts Branch Parkway, Research Boulevard, and Piccard Drive to name just some of them. Gude Drive’s bridge is slated to have perpendicular ramps to the toll lanes. The Wootton Parkway bridge was also mentioned in one of the meetings, though the use of this bridge does not appear as likely.

Phase 1 of the state’s plans goes from just south of I-370 down to the Beltway. So far, plans do not address (1) the area north of I-370, (2) the Beltway, or (3) the American Legion Bridge.

At present, Phase II covers I-270 north of I-370. Frederick and Gaithersburg are so-called “participating agencies” for Phase II. But Rockville is not a participating agency for Phase I. Why not? We should be.

I’ve met with various officials and citizens all summer to learn what’s happening with I-270 and the potential effects on Rockville. I conferred four times with county councilmembers, including one meeting with the county executive, and with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. 

Keeping up with this will enable me to do right by you as this critical situation changes weekly. This footwork will also help me and prepare Rockville for the next surprises from the State.

Mark Pierzchala is a Rockville City Councilmember and led the awareness effort in 2018 that alerted neighborhoods of the plans to widen I-270 to 16 lanes. He is running for re-election and you can learn more about Mark and his vision for Rockville at his website at https://votepierzchala.org/