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Little Falls Parkway Pilot Project

Division: Park Development Division

Little Falls Parkway Open Parkways Little Falls Parkway with cars

The Little Falls Parkway pilot project is underway! Currently, the open parkway is available 24/7. This spring, we will be launching a new linear park that will feature entertainment, food trucks, games, programs, and events. The timeline looks like this:

  • Fall 2022: we created the space for the park by reconfiguring the lanes of Little Falls Parkway.
  • November 2022: the Parkway is open to pedestrians and bicycle traffic 24/7.
  • Summer 2023: we will add amenities and host events in the reclaimed park space created by the lane reconfiguration.
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: Early summer 2023, once people have had a chance to use and experience the new park space, they can share their feedback with the parks department on what they like and what changes they want to see so that we can make the park the best it can be for everyone to enjoy. We will launch an open town hall topic in June for people to provide feedback.

This new park is a unique opportunity allowing us to maintain two travel lanes on Little Falls Parkway for vehicles AND develop a vibrant new park with much-needed recreational space, adjacent to the Capital Crescent Trail.

Linear parks are booming in cities all over the world where open space is limited and people crave urban greenery and recreation experiences. Consider New York City’s Highline, Atlanta’s Beltline, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. These are just a few examples of linear parks that have transformed cities.

Project Description:

The purpose of this pilot project is to study the potential of permanently reducing Little Falls Parkway from four lanes to two (one in each direction) between River Road and Arlington Road (1.3 miles) with the goal of creating a linear park on the two lanes closed to vehicles. This portion of the parkway was previously part of Montgomery Parks’ Open Parkways program which was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide more outdoor space for recreation and exercise.  

The pilot project aims to eliminate unintended traffic consequences in the surrounding neighborhoods while providing the longterm benefits of the popular Open Parkways program. The Open Parkways program for Little Falls Parkway was suspended on June 18, 2022, while Montgomery Parks and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) implemented phase 1 of the pilot project to conduct traffic studies. During phase 1, Little Falls Parkway was narrowed from two lanes in each direction separated by a median to one lane in each direction between Dorsett Avenue and Arlington Road. The initial traffic studies concluded in the fall of 2022 and confirmed that Little Falls Parkway functions well with two lanes. Montgomery Parks is now proceeding into Phase 2 of the pilot project. 

During phase 2, two vehicular traffic lanes were shifted to the east side of Little Falls Parkway with the remaining two lanes on the west side available for walking and bicycling. In Spring 2023, the Parks Department will activate the west side of Little Falls Parkway with seating, games, and other social and recreational amenities.  

Montgomery Parks and MCDOT will continue to monitor and analyze vehicular traffic flow impacts throughout the ongoing pilot project. If the pilot project continues to be successful, the excess space from the narrowed road will be used to create a new permanent linear park with recreational amenities, which will be accessible to park users seven days a week. Since April 2020, more than 300,000 park users have taken advantage of this additional recreational space.   

Status/Project Update:

The pilot project entered phase 2 on October 10, 2022. Details are provided in a press release about phase 2. Phase 1 of the pilot project concluded in September 2022 after Montgomery Parks staff installed flex posts, signage and pavement markings on Little Falls Parkway between Dorset Avenue and Arlington Road. A press release about phase 1 of the pilot project was issued on June 10, 2022.

Calendar and Meeting Notes:

Date/Time

Phase

Details

June 18, 2022 Phase 1: Lane Configuration Begins A single-lane road diet was implemented on Little Falls Parkway between Dorset Avenue and Arlington Road
Fall 2022 Phase 2: Lane Configuration Begins All vehicular traffic will be shifted to the east side of Little Falls Parkway between Dorset Avenue and Arlington Road with bicycle and pedestrian use on the west side.
Spring 2023 Pilot Linear Park Activation Activation of the west side of Little Falls Parkway to include seating, games, and other placemaking elements.
Summer 2023 Pilot Park Evaluation & Public Engagement Montgomery Parks will evaluate the success of the pilot park and provide opportunities for public input.

Montgomery Parks Staff Contact: 
Kyle Lukacs
Kyle.Lukacs@montgomeryparks.org

Last Updated: January 24, 2023