Land Set Aside for Intercounty Connector

By Katherine Shaver
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Montgomery County Planning Board has agreed to transfer 28 acres of parkland to the Maryland State Highway Administration to help build the westernmost section of the intercounty connector.

In a 3 to 1 vote, the board last week approved the transfer of woods and open fields between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue, said Dan Hardy, a transportation supervisor for the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning. The land is part of three parks -- Mill Creak Stream Valley, Rock Creek Regional and North Branch Stream Valley parks -- but is more wooded with some trails, rather than the kind of parkland often associated with picnic tables and playgrounds, Hardy said.

The state will give the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission eight acres for every acre of parkland the commission transfers for the highway, Hardy said. That acreage will help preserve the kind of interior woodlands that serve as a habitat for certain species, he said.

The Planning Board also recently approved the sale of 87 acres of other vacant land for the highway. That land, which the Park and Planning Commission had bought over the past three decades to preserve as highway right of way, will be sold to the state for $7.5 million, Hardy said. Both that sale and the parkland transfer must be approved by the full commission later this month before they are final, Hardy said.

The intercounty connector, a six-lane toll highway estimated to cost $2.4 billion, will link the Rockville area to Laurel. The state is buying public and private property in the 18-mile connector's path, as it continues work on several highway-related projects. Highway construction is scheduled to begin later this year.

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