The Montgomery County Council will spend much of its time this month looking at a development plan for the White Oak area in the eastern part of the county. The plan has courted plenty of controversy, much of it regarding traffic.
The centerpiece of the White Oak plan is the consolidation of offices of the federal Food and Drug Administration at the White Oak Research Center. Doing so will bring much needed development to an area that has had little of it according to county council president Craig Rice.
"At the end of the day, we know this represents one of the biggest and best opportunities for the East County to really make a difference (and change) the storyline we continue to hear," Rice says.
But plenty of residents in the area, and even a few council members, allege planners are lowering traffic congestion standards to get the necessary zoning changes approved, which they fear will mean exploding gridlock on roads around White Oak. Rice says while it's likely some standards will probably be changed, there is no way that traffic could stay the same as it is now.
"The reality is with the number of jobs we're looking to bring and potential residents to the area, there's no way you can zero out that amount of traffic. It's just not possible," he says.
There are plans for some rapid bus lines in the White Oak area to increase mass transit options, but they are still a very long way from becoming reality.