County Executive Ike Leggett Credit: Bethesda Beat file photo

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said Tuesday he plans to defend spending the $124 million he proposed to fund the construction of Montrose Parkway East in North Bethesda as several County Council members promote the idea of delaying the project and diverting much of the funding to other uses.

Leggett noted Tuesday the road project between Veirs Mill Road and the Rockville Pike Montrose interchange has been in county master plans for years. The White Flint 2 Sector Plan, the most recent development guide approved by the council for the area, mentions the project as part of the county’s future transportation network in the area.

“We have a good, strong master plan effort that we’re trying to get done,” Leggett told Bethesda Beat while attending an event with Gov. Larry Hogan in the Gaithersburg area. “I’m sticking with our master plan. I think that’s the best approach.”

A Montgomery County Department of Transportation diagram showing the route of Montrose Parkway East.

On Friday, three council members—Hans Riemer, Roger Berliner and Tom Hucker—sent a memo to their colleagues detailing the mass transit, bike infrastructure and other road projects they’d fund with approximately $94 million of the funding proposed for the Montrose Parkway East project. Their proposal calls for delaying the start of construction on the four-lane roadway from 2021 to 2024.

Leggett pushed back Tuesday on one argument presented by some of the council members that the White Flint area hadn’t developed enough to create a need for building the road project soon. He said the project was part of the county’s efforts to spur economic development in the area.

“We are concerned about the White Flint area and when you have that area as a consideration for a variety of things, just to maintain what we already have on the books is enough for us to move forward,” Leggett said.

County officials have said the county pitched the White Flint area to Amazon in its bid to be chosen as the home of the company’s proposed second headquarters. The county is one of 20 jurisdictions shortlisted for the project. Leggett has not confirmed whether Amazon is considering the area.

Council members Marc Elrich and George Leventhal previously said they too would support diverting the proposed roadway funds to pay for other projects or services. That would make at least five members of the nine-member council who support delaying the project and diverting the funds.

When Leggett was asked whether he could prevent the council from diverting the funds, he responded, “We’re going to see, we’re not there yet.”

The council’s transportation committee is scheduled to review the proposed funding for Montrose Parkway East at its meeting Thursday morning.