Planning Board Approves Scope of Work for Aspen Hill Vision Zero Study

Planning department forming advisory group

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The proposed area for the Aspen Hill Vision Zero Study, within previous planning department initiatives.

Via Montgomery County Planning Department

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the scope of work for the Aspen Hill Vision Zero Study and Zoning Analysis on Thursday, following a recommendation by the county Planning Department.

The study will explore crash trends, pedestrian access to local destinations and walkability concerns in the neighborhood. Based on the results, staff will develop recommendations for increasing safety and reducing collision frequency, according to the department’s staff report. The study region encompasses approximately 450 acres surrounding the intersection of Georgia and Connecticut avenues, including commercial developments such as the Northgate Shopping Center, Aspen Hill Shopping Center and Home Depot.

Previous initiatives such as the 2015 Aspen Hill minor master plan and the 2008 Georgia Avenue study influenced the staff’s approach to the study, as cited in the report, as did encouragement from residents.

“The study actually came out of feedback that we heard during the 2015 Aspen Hill minor master plan process, where residents expressed concerns about traffic safety, particularly pedestrian safety, crossing major roads in the Aspen hill area,” county Senior Planner Maren Hill said during the scope of work presentation to the board.

The staff will also analyze whether the zoning of specified commercial properties, among others, should be modified in a future master plan update.

County Executive Ike Leggett released a two-year action plan titled Vision Zero in November 2017 designed to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by 2030; the plan has met with varying degrees of success so far. The program was developed in Sweden in 1997 and targets systems in place, instead of human fault, when working toward creating a safer environment, which means examining issues such as accessibility and road design.

The planning department also announced it is creating an advisory group of community members to assist with the Aspen Hill study. The board will appoint between eight and 12 members to represent the Aspen Hill community and other interest groups through an application process, according to a planning department press release.

The group will meet approximately once a month from January to July on weekday evenings at venues around Aspen Hill. Participants will advise planning staff members as they develop a draft of the Aspen Hill Vision Zero Study. Online applications will be accepted until Dec. 21.

“While we have been working with the Aspen Hill community on this Vision Zero Study for a few months now, ongoing feedback from an advisory group will give us in-depth insight on how to improve safety for all modes of transportation in Aspen Hill,” Hill said in the press release.

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