Master Plan of Highways and Transitways
The Master Plan of Highways and Transitways is a functional master plan providing guidance and tools for transportation improvements. The master plan encapsulates all existing and planned transportation facilities, and preserves planned rights-of-way to accommodate future transportation systems, including highways, transitways and pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
The plan’s vision is based on the continuing development of the county and supporting transportation infrastructure in accordance with the General Plan. The goals is to develop a fundamentally sound, balanced and flexible future transportation system that helps to build and maintain livable communities within Montgomery County. Transportation, when planned well, can be an asset to the quality of life in a community. This plan is a multimodal plan and, ultimately, a plan focused on service people, not just vehicle trips.
Technical Update to the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways
The technical update to the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways was approved by the County Council on July 24, 2018 and adopted by the M-NCPPC on December 19, 2018. This master plan technical update is the first major revision to this plan since 1955. Over time, incremental changes have also been made to the County Road Code. This plan essentially is a technical update to bring consistency and usability to the transportation network. The Master Plan of Highways and Transitways Technical Update was prepared to:
- More closely align the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways (MPOHT) with the current County Road Code, which was amended in 2008 and 2014, to make county roads more pedestrian-friendly and context-sensitive and reflect a complete streets approach to road design.
- Modify road classifications to conform to the full range of 2008 County Road Code road classification types.
- Correct inconsistencies in roads crossing multiple master plan areas.
- Create a user-friendly web interface to allow the public to examine and search for existing and planned elements of the master-planned transportation system.
Conversion of MPOHT to Complete Streets Design Guide
With the enactment of Bill 24-22 and Bill 34-22 by the County Council, Montgomery County’s street classification system used in the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways was replaced with new street types presented in the Complete Streets Design Guide (approved February 2021). This is effective February 6 and 7, 2023, respectively for the two bills. Two changes were approved that differ from the currently approved Complete Streets Design Guide (CSDG) as follows:
- The street type referred to as “Major Highway” in the CSDG has been renamed as “Controlled Major Highway.”
- A new street type referred to as “Area Connector” was created. This new street type will be used for streets that were previously identified in the MPOHT as Minor Arterials or two-lane Arterials. This street type is similar to a Neighborhood Connector, with the same typical cross section, however, there are some differences in the standards. The most notable difference is that Neighborhood Connectors has a target speed of 20 mph, and Area Connectors has a target speed of 25 mph.
In addition, there are some minor changes to the CSDG document based on the approved Bills, so the Planning Department and MCDOT are now working on a new version of the CSDG which should be reviewed by the Planning Board later this Spring 2023.
Transitioning from the previous street classification system to the CSDG street classification system is a three-step process:
- Phase 1: Enactment of Bill 24-22 and Bill 34-22 (Complete). With the enactment of Bill 24-22 on November 7, 2022 and Bill 34-22 on December 27, 2022, the County Council established interim translations for CSDG street types (Downtown Boulevard, Downtown Street, Town Center Boulevard, etc.) that are based on both the CSDG area types (Downtown, Town Center, Suburban, Industrial, and Country) and the previous street classification system.
- Phase 2: Master Plan Area Types in the Pedestrian Master Plan (Ongoing). To address some of the main deficiencies in the Phase 1 translation, and because the Pedestrian Master Plan includes recommendations that rely on CSDG area types, the Pedestrian Master Plan replaces the interim area type designations in the county code with permanent area type designations throughout the county. Changes to CSDG street types will occur in locations of the county where the area type is modified.
- Phase 3: Master Plan Street Types in a Technical Update to the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways (Future Effort). This plan update would reevaluate the classifications of all roads to fully ensure that each road is accurately and contextually classified.
Montgomery Planning will continue to update the street classifications provided in the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways as each phase is completed.
The plan encompasses the entire County, less the seven municipalities that have their own planning authority: Rockville, Gaithersburg, Laytonsville, Brookeville, Poolesville, Washington Grove, and Barnesville.