Matthew Henson State Park

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Mathew Henson State Park comprises the stream valley of the major branch and part of the stream valley of another branch of the Turkey Branch of Rock Creek. It has one end at Georgia Avenue and another end at Veirs Mill Road. It is bridged by Connecticut Avenue at the infamous "cloverleaf to nowhere".


History

Sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the Planning Board included a Master Plan element called the "Rockville Facility" more commonly known as the "Montrose Parkway". It was to travel from Interstate 270 at Montrose Road to intercept the "Outer Beltway" near the vicinity of the present-day Plaza del Mercado Shopping Center. The State Highway Administration acquired the rights to the main Turkey Branch stream valley between Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road.

In the mid 1960s, final approval was given to the design of a bridge to carry Connecticut Avenue over the stream valley, and Connecticut Avenue was completed to the intersection with Georgia Avenue. The bridge design anticipated the completion of the Montrose Parkway, and contained design elements such as merge lanes and pullout lanes appropriate to a grade-separated intersection of a cloverleaf type.

In the late 1990s, the State Highway Administration transferred ownership to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the parcel was re-named "Matthew Henson State Park".

Controversy erupted when a public attention was drawn to a plan by then-Governor Robert Ehrlich to sell some of the park lands to a developer who proposed to build there. An amendment to the Constitution of Maryland put the park lands forever out of possibility of transfer, unless and until that amendment is repealed.

In 2005, the last contentions and court actions were resolved which had prevented the construction of an asphalt-paved hiker-biker trail through the Matthew Henson State Park and the "Matthew Henson Greenway" which is the remaining right of way for the Montrose Parkway, lying east of Layhill Road.

In 2007, construction began on both the Hiker Biker Trail and a massive stormwater-retention/flood-control project. The Matthew Henson Hiker-Biker Trail was officially dedicated on May 9 2009, although it had been in use by the public for about a year preceding this dedication.

As of summer 2008, the stormwater control project is mostly finished, but stream-restoration work is ongoing.

External Links

  1. Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Factsheet on the Turkey Branch project (PDF downloaded on 2008 August 21)