Significant regional traffic growth and localized development has resulted in traffic increases along Route 355, a two-lane highway in rural and suburban Maryland. Completion of this mobility-enhancing project required a comprehensive approach involving design creativity, stakeholder involvement, and agency coordination. Stakeholders learned that converting a two-lane highway into a six-lane arterial in a built-up area is no small feat, especially when the conversion is done in a manner in which the finished product fits with the surrounding area.
Maryland Route 355 was a two-lane highway in Montgomery County linking communities in the Gaithersburg/Germantown area. The arterial parallels Interstate 270. The route passes through Great Seneca Creek State Park. At the southeast project limit is one major signalized intersection with Maryland Route 124. Other signalized intersections along the corridor include Middlebrook Road, Maryland 118, and Maryland 27. The 2.6-mile route passes through residential areas, parks and open space, and commercial areas.
Significant regional traffic growth and localized development resulted in traffic increases along Route 355. The two-lane highway, originally designed as a rural road, became congested. Reconstruction of the route to accommodate existing and projected future traffic demand was apparent.
Problem to be Solved
The identified problem was to provide enhanced mobility for those using the Maryland Route 355 corridor. Mobility issues included through traffic, intersection conflicts and bottlenecks, access management, and providing for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Completion of this major project required a comprehensive approach involving design creativity, stakeholder involvement, and agency coordination. This project also illustrated well the importance of maintaining context sensitivity and flexibility all the way through construction. Staff from Maryland SHA noted that this project illustrated well that having good people involved who were flexible, who could "roll with the punches," was a critical success factor.
While stakeholders recognized the need for the project and understood the proposed solution, they expressed concerns and desires about the execution of the design. Through numerous meetings, design revisions, and tailoring of the project, a context sensitive design solution was accomplished.
Design Flexibility and Application of Design Criteria
Fitting the desired cross section (a six-lane divided arterial with 12-foot lanes) into the corridor required design flexibility along the route.
- City of Gaithersburg
- Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- Numerous Utility Companies (water, gas, cable TV, telephone electric)
- Community associations (Wheatfield Homeowners Association, Foxchapel Homeowners Association, Montgomery Village Foundation)
- Individual residential property owners
- Major employers (Lockheed Martin)
- Other business owners along the corridor (e.g., Holiday Inn, Aamco)
Maryland Route 355