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Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Working Draft to be presented to the Planning Board on October 6

September 29, 2022

Rural road lined with daylilies

Draft of the plan considers new roads to be included in the program and updates to existing roads that are currently in the program

WHEATON, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will present the Working Draft of the update to the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan to the Montgomery County Planning Board at their meeting on October 6, 2022. The Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Update is the first comprehensive update to the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan since the original plan was approved in 1996.

This update to the 1996 Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan has two main purposes:

  1. To consider roads that have been nominated for inclusion in the Rustic Roads Program.
  2. To provide the necessary details for several roads that are currently in the program but have incomplete descriptions.

View the Working Draft of the plan:

As a part of the plan, existing road profiles were reviewed for changes, new maps were created, and an environment section was added. This update revises the descriptions of the significant features, history, traveling experience, environmental setting, and road characteristics of the existing rustic roads and provides new profiles for nominated rustic roads and those roads lacking a complete description. The plan also updates the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways. This plan also considers the programs and policies instrumental in the implementation of the program. Planners most recently presented to the Board about the plan’s status in April 2022.

Next Steps

At the briefing, Montgomery Planning staff will request that the Planning Board set a date for the public hearing in November 2022. Planners are asking residents to review the changes and provide comments via an online comment map. Community members are also encouraged to sign up for the plan’s eletter. For questions and comments, please contact project manager Jamey Pratt via email or 301-495-4588.

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 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 (Chapter 49, Streets and Roads, Article 8, Rustic Roads Program). 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.

The scope of work for the plan was approved by the Planning Board on February 6, 2020.