Greenbelt Sector Plan: Preferred Alternatives

On April 19, the last public outreach meeting was held for the Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan, which laid out a more detailed vision for the plan area. What follows are some of the highlights of this vision. A draft of the sector plan is expected to be released in July, and a joint public hearing will occur in September (tentatively set for September 18, 2012).

Land Use
Greenbelt Sector Plan Zones
Land use is to be organized in part by dividing the plan area into two zones: Greenbelt Metropolitan Center (which includes Capital Office Park, Franklin Park, and Greenbelt Station’s north core) and MD 193 Corridor (which includes Greenway Center, Belle Point and University Square, Beltway Plaza, and Greenbelt Station’s south core). The goal is to enhance connectivity within each zone and promote development that complements the other areas of the zone.

Two different land use approaches for Greenbelt Station’s north core will be proposed. It would call for either a comprehensive, transit-oriented mixed use community or a major employer (such as a GSA tenant like the FBI) with some potential for associated mixed-use development. For a more detailed description of each scenario, see our post on the North Core Concepts and Design meeting.

Residential development by the Greenbelt Metro station and other key locations (such as Beltway Plaza and Greenway Center) will be proposed. This would help answer the growing regional demand for transit-oriented and mixed-use residential development. It would bring additional residential units to support existing and new retail, and it would take advantage of the transportation and utility infrastructure that is already in-place.

The sector plan will not make recommendations for new development in North College Park. Any future revitalization and redevelopment in the Hollywood neighborhood would be subject to the recommendations of the 2010 Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan.

Transportation

A pedestrian bridge will be recommended to run over the Metro tracks, connecting Greenbelt Station’s north/south core with North College Park. It argues that it would ensure safe pedestrian and bicycle connections between the largely residential Hollywood neighborhood and the future mixed-use environment by Greenbelt Station. The 2010 Central US 1 Corridor Sector Plan proposed an elementary school in east Hollywood at Huron Street and 51st Avenue, and such a pedestrian bridge could allow students to walk between the school and the future south core neighborhood. It should be noted that the approved Conceptual Site Plan for the development of Greenbelt Station includes a condition of approval that mandates provision of a pedestrian bridge.

Greenbelt Sector Plan - Connector Road
A final alignment for the North/South Connector, a road that would connect Greenbelt Station’s north and south cores, has not yet been determined. Conceptual designs and preliminary engineering have been conducted.

A final alignment for the Beltway interchange at Greenbelt station has not been determined, either. The State Highway Administration has developed a conceptual interchange ramp system, but the final alignment and configuration are subject to change.

The sector plan will support additional bus service and consolidation, such as by providing bus hubs or transfer facilities at Greenbelt Station, Beltway Plaza, and Greenway Center. It will ask for the consideration of Bus Rapid Transit in the medium to long term (6 to 30 years).

Greenbelt Sector Plan Area - Future MD 193MD 193 (Greenbelt Road) is proposed to be redeveloped into an urban boulevard with enhanced streetscape that includes sidewalks, bicycle facilities and landscaping. The road would be retrofitted to a 4-lane divided roadway with a median. Pedestrian crossing distances would be minimized at intersections, and signal green time would be increased to allow side traffic and pedestrians to cross.

Cherrywood Lane is proposed to be reconstructed as a 2-lane divided urban boulevard with a landscaped median, on-road bike lanes, and full sidewalks. A full signalized intersection would be developed at the entrance to the Metro station, and a reduced speed of 25 mph would be implemented with curb bump outs and bus pull-off areas.

The current diamond interchange at MD 193 (Greenbelt Road) and MD 201 (Kenilworth Avenue) is proposed to be reconstructed into a diverging diamond interchange. The sector plan would argue that this would improve traffic movement and appearance, and allow safe and efficient pedestrian and bike access and mobility along MD 193. However, it was contended that such an interchange would do little to improve the pedestrian and bicycle situation, because it would increase the number of potential crossings from 2 to 4. At this interchange, we think the sector plan should consider significant buffers for the sidewalks, as well as designated bicycle lanes. The primary goal should be to take cars off the road and improve connectivity across Kenilworth Avenue, not get more cars across Kenilworth Avenue more quickly.

Environmental Infrastructure

Existing woodlands are to be retained to the extent possible, and woodland conservation banks are proposed to be established within the sector plan area. Streams would be stabilized and restored where necessary.

The sector plan will seek to address stormwater management, reduce impervious surfaces, and incorporate environmental site design with all new development. It would ensure new development meets all local and state watershed improvement plan requirements.

Green building techniques would be incorporated and all new buildings would be asked to obtain LEED or equivalent certification. The sector plan would ask for the exploration for opportunities to obtain LEED Neighborhood Development certification west of the Capital Beltway and the inclusion of “night sky” measures such as full cut-off lighting fixtures to reduce light pollution.

The need for noise walls and other noise mitigation techniques, especially near major noise generators such as the Beltway, would be examined.

One thought on “Greenbelt Sector Plan: Preferred Alternatives”

  1. Nice job — thanks for posting this.

    Proposals to make Cherrywood & MD 193 into urban boulevards would be a huge improvement over what’s there now. Bus hubs at Greenbelt Metro, Beltway Plaza and Greenwood Center are also interesting. There’s enough empty parking lot at Beltway Plaza to make a large one.

    However, the project team has its work cut out for it to show how the diverging diamond is supposed to be an improvement. Sure, it would improve things for cars, but would pedestrians or cyclists get through there in one piece ? If anything, it looks worse for accessibility than what’s already there, which is really saying something, considering what a barrier that intersection is now.

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