Skip to the content
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Home / News / Update to the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Approved

Update to the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan Approved

Rural road lined with daylilies
Update adds roads to the program and updates details for roads already included in the program

WHEATON, MD –  The update to the Rustic Roads Functional Master Plan was approved by the Montgomery County Council on July 25, 2023, marking the first comprehensive update to the plan since 1996.

Rustic roads are historic and scenic roadways that reflect the agricultural character and rural origins of the County.  Preservation of rustic roads must be achieved by retaining certain physical features of rustic roads and by certain right-of-way maintenance procedures. Rustic and Exceptional Rustic roads are preserved under the Rustic Roads Program, which provides a system for evaluating, protecting, and enhancing these scenic roadways.

This update 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.

Before the approval of the plan update, there were 99 roads in the Rustic Roads Program:

The new plan added sixteen new roads to the Program, removed three roads from the Program, reclassified many roads from rustic to exceptional rustic, and clarified the status of a couple roads. With the new plan, there are now 114 total roads:

As part of the plan, existing road profiles were reviewed for changes, new maps were created, and an environment section was added for each road. 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 the new rustic roads and those roads with incomplete descriptions. The plan also updates the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways and proposes revisions to the programs and policies instrumental in the implementation of the program.

“Rustic roads help to maintain the rural character of Montgomery County and serve as a resource for the agricultural community and as an amenity for residents,” said Acting Montgomery County Planning Director Tanya Stern. “We’re pleased to see that these unique resources will continue to be preserved with this plan update.”

The County Council also approved Bill 30-23. This bill updates the composition of the Rustic Roads Advisory Committee (RRAC) to expand the membership and create more diversity on the Committee. The RRAC is comprised of citizen members who are appointed by the County Executive; they review and advise the County Executive, County Council, Planning Board, Department of Transportation, Department of Permitting Services, and other county agencies on matters concerning rustic roads. Members review and comment upon roadway classifications, policies, and regulations and promote public awareness of the Rustic Roads Program. The number of members was increased from seven to nine, and the bill made further updates to reflect three at-large members and one additional commodity farmer member.

The Montgomery County Planning Department began work on the plan in July 2019, and the plan was approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board in February 2023 prior to transmittal to the County Council for its review and approval. When Council approval completed, the plan will now be adopted by The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission at a future meeting.

For questions and comments, please contact project co-lead Jamey Pratt via email or 301-495-4588.