Officials of Montgomery and three other counties are considering a regional approach to easing commuter traffic problems in Damascus, the old farming hub of upper Montgomery County that lies on a major connector road to I-270.
"As we get more development in the area north of us and in the other counties, all these roads are going to get jammed," John B. Clark, president of the Greater Damascus Civic Association, told officials from Frederick, Carroll and Howard counties last week.
He and several other Damascus civic leaders told the officials that with the scheduled opening in December of the Shady Grove Metro Station, there will be more pressure for development in the region and along the I-270 corridor.
"Soon, there won't be any place to go," Clark said.
Transportation experts from the four-county area and from the state said there are no major projects planned to upgrade or widen roads leading to and from Damascus, only minor ones.
Because the region is largely rural, the projects generally become a low priority of the state, officials said.
While no immediate solutions were suggested, Clark said he hopes that last week's meeting will start "a path of cooperation" among the four counties and the state.
Damascus, with a population of about 5,000, is in the northern corner of Montgomery County. It is at the junction of three ridges, atop which are three major roads -- Rtes. 124, 108 and 27.
The area's rapid growth over the past decade has turned, residents say Rte. 27 has turned into a major connecting road to I-270 for thousands of commuters.
State highway officials said that from 1982 to 1983, traffic along the portion of Rte. 27 running through Damascus has increased 12 percent, from 14,500 vehicles a day to 16,000.
"If you compare the increase to the statewide average, it's a high increase," said Mike Snyder, a state highway engineer for the Montgomery-Prince George's region. "But if you consider all the development going on in Montgomery County, it's about average."
Relief from commuter traffic may not come until 1986. That is when the state is scheduled to begin road improvements in the Damascus business district, as outlined in the town's master plan, Snyder said.
Those projects include widening portions of Rtes. 27 and 108 for additional turning lanes, connecting Rte. 27 and Lewis Drive, and reconstruction of Rte. 124, from Woodfield Road to Rte. 108.