Rockville's plan to relieve the city's heavily traveled downtown streets and at the same time preserve historic neighborhoods along West Montgomery Avenue is being opposed by some residents.

The plan to extend Gude Drive -- from Rte. 355 West to the proposed extension of Research Boulevard, with either a bridge or a tunnel to be built where Gude Drive crosses I-270 -- is strongly opposed by residents of the College Gardens community, whose homes abut the proposed road.

The $4 million cost of the Gude Drive extension is to be shared by the city and Montgomery County. The road could be built in about three years, according to a city report. It will serve as a bypass connecting the east and west legs on Rte. 28, the report notes.

But residents in College Gardens want the road moved at least 500 feet north of its planned route to avoid "noise and air pollution and general disruption of our neighborhood," civic activist Mel Halpern, told the council. The plan could tack up to $1 million onto the cost of the project.

City Manager Larry Blick said the council will study the citizens' proposal before making a decision in early September. He called the proposal, "not very good from a planning approach" because he said it could spur commercial development that would be incompatible with the adjacent community.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to award to Arthur Cotton Moore a $200,000 contract for the design of Courthouse Square in downtown Rockville as part of the city's plan to revitalize its central business district.