Another round of public meetings ended this week on one of the most studied and controversial highways proposed for Montgomery and Prince George counties -- the Outer Beltway of the 1950s and 1960s, now known as the Intercounty Connector, and a spur to it, dubbed the rockville Facility.
On Tuesday the last of this year's five public workshops brought much the same local opposition to the proposed roads that highway planners heard last fall in similar sessions. The workshops are part of a three-year, $1.5 million study of the need to improve or build cross-county roads between I-270 in Montgomery County and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Prince George's County.
"Where is alternative 13, the nobuild alternative?" Colesville resident Irvin Wolock asked at Tuesday night's meeting after 12 different highway proposals were described by state highway officials.
"I think you're playing with a stacked deck of cards," Wolock said. "We've seen a lot of government studies and they almost invariably provide what the sponsoring agency wanted in the first place." His remarks were greeted with applause from a crowd of 125 residents.
While the workshops were devoted primarily to small group discussions, another residents who asked to speak Tuesday night, Stephen Stern, said his civic association and 12 others in north Bethesda are united against any new highways. "We don't feel the no-build alternative has been given a fair shake."
While many residents have opposed some or all of the proposed new roads, many also have agreed that some improvement in the east-west road system is needed.
The consultants, Henningson, Durham and Richardson, have forecast that east-west traffic will increase by 100,000 vehicles within the next 15 years because of increased development in the area, bringing heavy congestion to many small, now uncrowded roads and adding to the Beltway's already heavy traffic flow of more than 100,000 vehicles a day.
The proposed 23-mile Intercounty Connector and other alternatives would save motorists in 1995 up to 15 minutes' travel time between Rockville and Laurel, compared with estimated travel times without the new roads, the consultants predict.
The dozen road proposals now being studied by the consultants will be reduced to five or six this fall, and yet another series of public workshops will be held on them next summer. Then a detailed environmental study of the proposed roads will be done. That will take at least another year, and still more public hearings.
The 12 current proposals include simple widening Randolph Road (Rte. 183), the least disruptive and, at $74 million, the least expensive of options being considered; building two new parallel highway; building a single new highway, or building a new highway with a spur (Rockville Facility).
The most expensive alternative, a four-to-six-lane, limited-access freeway above Rockville, with a four-lane spur (Rockville Facility) below the city, would cost $317 million, require the relocation of 504 families and businesses, "disrupt" more than 50 historic sites and take more than 1,800 acres of land, including 83 acres of parkland.
John Garmat, a member of Montgomery County's recently appointed Citizens Advisory Committee on the Intercounty Connector, told Tuesday's meeting that his 15-member group is questioning "the glib assumptions" of the study that any new highway is needed at all.
Garmat said his own civic association, Luxmanor, prefers improvements to Randolph Road because "It's the least disruptive alternative." His committee has met only once and taken no position on the proposals.