M-83: the Midcounty Highway Extended

Image: Montgomery County Department of Transportation

The Midcounty Highway Extended, or M-83, is a proposed limited access highway that would connect Montgomery County’s Clarksburg to Gaithersburg, and was initially proposed in the 1960s.  The 6-lane highway, which would run parallel to Route 355 to the east, would harm wetlands, fragile stream valleys, the agricultural reserve, and divide existing neighborhoods in Montgomery Village and Germantown.

Currently, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is seeking an environmental permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers for the highway, because of its impact on wetlands and federal waterways.  We expect a decision on the preferred alignment by MCDOT, followed by a decision on the permit by the Army Corps later in 2014.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth has partnered with the grassroots coalition Transit Alternatives to the Midcounty Highway Extended (TAME) to build support for real sustainable transit alternatives to the M-83 highway that can help realize the original vision of Clarksburg as a transit-oriented community.

Together with TAME we have turned out speakers to hearings about the M-83 project, generated hundreds of written comments, and helped win media coverage. Coalition for Smarter Growth and TAME support the low impact alternatives 2 and 5 that make improvements to 355, while opposing Alternatives 4, 8, and 9.  We have been calling for a transit alternative to be considered as well, though one has not been studied to this date.