Two major road projects aimed at relieving traffic in downtown Rockville and perserving historic neighborhoods along West Montgomery Avenue were given the green light this week by Rockville City Council.
Council members unanimously approved the extension of both Gude Drive and Research Boulevard, despite strong opposition to the Gude Drive extension from some city residents.
The projects call for the extension of Gude Drive west from Rte. 355, to connect with the planned extension of Research Boulevard east. Research Boulevard will run south of Research Place to just north of Rte. 28 and link up with Shady Grove Road.
Opposition to the projects comes from residents of the College Gardens community, whose homes would abut the proposed road.
College Gardens resident Mel Halpern said the community plans to sue the city in hopes of forcing the city either to build the road 1,500 feet north of the planned route, or to kill the project entirely.
Halpern called the council "totally insensitive to the needs of the community." He said the community earlier had asked the city to consider the route change in order to avoid "noise and air pollution and general disruption of the neighborhood." But, according to Halpern, the city never seriously considered the community's plan.
"We have only one thing to do," Halpern said, "and that's to go to court."
Halpern said the group plans to sue under a federal environmental act that allows it to charge that the city did not complete the necessary evironmental impact studies before proceeding with the projects.
The city will pay one-fourth and Montgomery County three-fourths of the anticipated $4-million cost of the Gude Drive project.
The city plans, however, to recoup some of the cost of the projects by setting special assessments on several property owners whose land is adjacent to the proposed extensions.
Under this plan, if these properties are sold for development, the sellers would have to pay the set assessments to the city.
The largest assessment, $933,000, will be set on the farm of Katherine Thomas, whose property abuts the proposed Research Boulevard extension.
The city contends the assessments are justified because the value of the properties is expected to increase dramatically when the extensions are completed.
"It's just a matter of time before the land is subdivided and developed," said James M. Davis, the city's chief planner. "At that point the city will be interested in recouping its investment."
A city report estimates the Research Boulevard extension will take two years to complete, and the Gude Drive extension will take three years.