Community invited to provide comments on current and potential Rustic Roads through the online Rustic Roads Feedback Map

January 28, 2021

Rural road lined with dayliliesOnline map allows users to provide feedback on roads currently in the Rustic Roads program or that have been nominated for inclusion as part of the functional master plan update

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), invites the community to provide comments on the newly launched online Rustic Roads Feedback Map. This online tool will allow community members to provide feedback on the historic and scenic roadways in Montgomery County that are currently in the Rustic Roads Program or have been nominated for inclusion in the program. Montgomery planning staff will use these comments to inform the ongoing Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan.

Roads in the Rustic Roads Program are narrow, low volume roads used by drivers, farmers, equestrians, bicyclists and hikers and reflect the agricultural character and rural origins of Montgomery County. Each road is unique, and some have special surfaces such as gravel or concrete that have become rare. They are public roads that receive routine maintenance by Montgomery County Department of Transportation or the Maryland State Highway Administration, but because of their inclusion in the program, significant features of these roads are conserved.

Access the online Rustic Roads Feedback Map

“The Rustic Roads Program preserves our historic rural roads that are cherished places to residents and visitors, and economic assets to our unique agricultural and heritage tourism operations,” said project manager Leslie Saville. “I would like to invite anyone who has an interest in Rustic Roads to comment on the Feedback Map as we work to update the plan.”

Community members will be able to use the Rustic Roads Feedback Map to discuss the safety, special qualities and other characteristics of roads currently in the program as well as roads that have been nominated to become Rustic Roads. The map will be available to the community for commenting until March 5, 2021. After this time, the comments will be reviewed and analyzed, and then the map will be used as a public resource for anyone who wants to learn more about Rustic Roads.

About the Rustic Roads Feedback Map

The Rustic Roads Feedback Map provides an online platform for community members to give comments that will be useful to planners during the update to the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan. Users are invited to click on different roadway segments classified into three categories: Rustic Road, Exceptional Rustic Road, and Nominee. Exceptional Rustic Roads are Rustic Roads that meet additional criteria such as having a higher risk of being negatively affected by improvements or modifications to the physical characteristics of the road than other roads in the Rustic Roads Program.

Users can respond to the following questions about the road they selected under the comment tab:

  • What physically, historically or culturally makes this road special or unique?
  • What matters most to you about this road?
  • Does this road feel safe? If not where and why does it feel unsafe?
  • Should this road be recommended for a rustic or exceptional rustic road designation?
  • If this road were designated as rustic, what features of the road, roadside or its surrounding landscape should be preserved?
  • Other comments

Background on the Plan

This Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Update addresses the Rustic Roads element of the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways project and responds to a request from the Rustic Roads Advisory Committee. The Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan (RRFMP) Update proposes to assess 24 roads which have been nominated for addition to the Rustic Roads Program, to describe 29 roads that are currently in the program which have incomplete descriptions, to consider two existing rustic roads for their eligibility for an exceptional rustic road classification, and to make other needed corrections  During the master plan update, the Significant Features of each road will be designated. These features must be retained when the road is maintained or improved. This Update will integrate several technical elements such as current policies, programs and master plan requirements, and address other issues that may be identified during the master plan process. As with the recent Master Plan of Highways and Transitways and Bicycle Master Plan, there will be no land use recommendations.

View the latest draft list of rustic roads and the corresponding map.

The Planning Board Approved the Scope of Work for the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Update on February 6, 2020.

Plan Timeline:

The Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Update is included on the FY20 Adopted Master Plan and Major Projects Schedule. Work was initiated in July 2019 and the Planning Board Draft is scheduled for transmission to the County Executive and County Council  by August of 2021.

  • February 2020: The Planning Board approves the Scope of Work. View the staff report and presentation.
  • Spring and Summer 2021: Planning board review, public hearing and work sessions.
  • August 2021: Transmit to County Executive and County Council

About the Rustic Roads Program

The roads in the program reflect the history of Montgomery County—from native American hunting trails and mill roads to westward expansion routes, canal and lock roads, and railroad connection roads. Local roads connected our farms to mills and markets for lumber, food and cash crops, and connected communities to one another for education, worship and governance.

Today, the Rustic Roads Program continues to support local farming and the Agricultural Reserve. These narrow, historic roads allow residents to safely share the lanes with a broad variety of users including slow-moving farm equipment and horses. For visitors to pick-your-own farms, wineries and on-farm breweries, the small roads underscore the nature of the working landscape and enhance the experience of hiking, driving or riding a bike through the Reserve.

Montgomery County was early in recognizing the value of our small, historic farm roads, with the County Council appointing a task force to study the issue in 1989 and establishing the Rustic Roads Program through county law in 1993. Through the Council’s approval of two functional master plans and 11 area master plans, 99 roads have been placed in the program. Residents have nominated two dozen more roads for addition to the program, so the number of designated rustic roads and community support for them continue to grow.

For more information about the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan, contact Leslie Saville at the Montgomery County Planning Department at leslie.saville@montgomeryplanning.org or tel. 301-495-2194.