Aspen Hill Road
Aspen Hill Road is one of the main roads in Aspen Hill. It is one of the few east-west routes through the neighborhood.
Aspen Hill Road's western terminus is at Veirs Mill Road, in the flood plain of Rock Creek. The road rises from the eastern side of the flood plain of Rock Creek through the Aspen Hill Park neighborhood and intersects Arctic Avenue at the crest of a ridge, and runs along that ridge towards the northeast, At Marianna Drive it descends from the ridge into the floodplain of the Turkey Branch of Rock Creek, crossing Parkland Drive and then Connecticut Avenue. It passes through the commercial core of Aspen Hill, and rises again to a ridge where it terminates at Georgia Avenue.
"Old Aspen Hill Road"
It must be noted here that in many deeds of the 19th century, often quoted verbatim in more-recent deeds, in the vicinity of the Washington to Brookville Turnpike, Aspen Hill Road was referred to as "the Veirs Mill Road", causing some confusion or conflation with the modern road named Veirs Mill Road.
Some interesting history of the origins of the road may be found in the Montgomery County Land Records at Liber EBP 17, folio 342 (plat not online, accession number MSA C2152).
On October 31, 1861, the county surveyor "located the road" at the behest of examiners appointed by the Commissioners of Montgomery County. This group of examiners seems to have included William V. Bouic, Catharine Bowie, Frank Dodges, Henry Harding, James Rannie, and Samuel C. Veirs. Rannie had one of the larger farms in the area, and Veirs had a powerful mill on Rock Creek.
In a deed recorded at the Montgomery County Land Records office in liber CKW 1021 at folio 74 (Bauer to Austin) and dated June 10, 1946, some mention is made of "...the new road from Veirs's to the Washington and Brookeville Turnpike...". In a deed of June 19, 1866, referenced within, (liber EBP 3, folio 56), the same reference to "the new road" is found. It seems likely that the original "new road" was built during the First Civil War. It is depicted in a map dated 1873 (Topographical atlas of Maryland: counties of Howard and Montgomery and D.C., Martenet, Simon J.; Walling, H. F.; Gray, Ormando Willis, downloaded June 20, 2009 from the David Rumsey Map Collection).
- This section may contain some slight factual errors and additional on-site archeology is needed to ascertain the facts. Questionable statements are in italics Thardman 18:31, 13 September 2010 (EDT)
In a plat map (4266) titled "Street dedication plat, Aspen Hill Road relocation & Adrian Street, Aspen Hill Park" we see that Aspen Hill Road was rebuilt a bit to the south of the original "new road" referenced in the 1866 deed. Parts of the old road remain, though visible only due to the characteristic age of the overgrowth, and because the old right-of-way was in places used as a dividing line between private property that was subsequently subdivided, and public property. One example may be found between Baltic Avenue and Aspen Hill Local Park. Another may be found at the fenced borders between the Frost Center and the Melvin J Berman Hebrew Academy. Both were formerly public schools, and the remnant of the old Aspen Hill Road runs between them, to terminate at Arctic Avenue. (Alternatively, the old road may be located at the fence separating the southern lot line of the Wheaton Woods Baptist Church and the line of houses on the north side of Arctic Avenue between the Frost Center and Arctic Avenue.)
- As of November 2010, it appears that the latter case is the correct interpretation. This commentary is left as a lesson to the future student. End disputed section. Thardman 19:17, 7 November 2010 (EST)
Much of the original "new road" is shown on various maps from both the Aspen Hill Park plats and the Wheaton Woods plats noted as "existing 30' road" and also references liber CKW 1104 at folios 91-93. The "...Public Road that runs from Veirs Mill to the Washington and Brookeville Turnpike..." is frequently mentioned in deeds, for instance in PBR 464 at folios 488-489 which gives it multiple mentions. It is also mentioned in a deed to Nathan Goodman in liber CKW 1058 at folio 94, in 1946, transferring lands which later became the Aspen Hill Park neighborhood.
Yet remnants of the old road seem to still be with us. Between Arctic Avenue and Eades Street, the old road runs more or less as the fence line between Camelot Street and Arctic Court. Between Eades Street and Oriental Street, there remains almost no trace of the old road. Yet between Oriental Street and Iris Street, there is a 30-foot right-of-way running parallel to the existing Aspen Hill Road some distance north, more or less aligned with the known former path of the Old Aspen Hill Road.
Perhaps you would like a map of the existing Aspen Hill Road?
For most of its length, Aspen Hill Road is a two-lane road with two parking lanes. It is a Snow Emergency Route.
At the western terminus, it is a five-lane road with no parking lanes, accepting two lanes of traffic turning off of Veirs Mill Road, with two lanes discharging traffic onto northwest-bound Veirs Mill Road, and with one lane discharging traffic onto southeast-bound Veirs Mill Road. It becomes a two-lane road with parking lanes about halfway up the hill.
At the intersection of Aspen Hill Road and Parkland Drive, it becomes a four-lane road with no parking lanes. In each direction there is a lane for through and right-turning traffic, and a left-turn-only lane. Between most of the distance between the intersection with Parkland Drive and Connecticut Avenue, it is a two-lane road with parking lanes which have "no parking" signs limiting parking to non-rush hours. From this point it widens to become a five-lane road to the terminus at Georgia Avenue, and from Connecticut Avenue eastward, it is a five-lane road with a central turn lane, also called a "four lane with suicide left".
As of late July 2008, many intersections have been fitted with "traffic calming intersection corner islands" -- also known as "bump outs" -- which ensure that it is impossible to make a turn from the parking lane even if there are no parked vehicles. It also makes it impossible to park vehicles illegally close to the intersection without blocking the entire lane. These traffic flow impediments are intended to improve the flow of traffic, according to County spokespersons.
Aspen Hill Road is at its planned capacity for traffic at most times between 7:00AM and 8:00PM. At peak rush hour, for most of its length, it exceeds planned capacity.
The intersection with Veirs Mill Road was upgraded in 2003 and flows fairly well even at peak rush hour.
The intersection with Arctic Avenue flows fairly well at most times.
The intersection with Parkland Drive generally flows fairly well, but due to the rightmost lane serving as a through-or-right-turn lane with the innermost lane serving as left-turn-only, right-turn-on-red traffic is often blocked from turning onto or off of Aspen Hill Road. Without significant condemnation of private property surrounding the intersection, it would be impossible to widen any lanes or increase the flow through capacity of this intersection.
The intersection with Connecticut Avenue flows fairly well at most times, though congestion can be very high at peak rush hour.
Shopping Center Traffic
Due to a legacy of thoughtless planning combined with heedless drivers, traffic seeking to turn left off of eastbound Aspen Hill Road into the Northgate Plaza Shopping Center will go head-to-head in the so-called "suicide left" central turn lane against traffic seeking to turn left off of westbound Aspen Hill Road into the Aspen Hill Shopping Center.
Pedestrian traffic attempting to cross between North Gate Plaza and the Aspen Hill Shopping Centers is at significant risk from the oppositional turning traffic.
Due to the crime problems in Aspen Hill in general, and due to the general problems with crime associated with pedestrian tunnels, possible solutions are mostly limited to using a traffic island for blocking left turns across Aspen Hill Road into both shopping centers at the point where the driveways to both shopping centers are closest to each other; or, to regrading Aspen Hill Road to enable a cut-and-cover pedestrian deck between the shopping centers; or, constructing a disability-friendly crossing bridge.
Both shopping centers have other entrances from Aspen Hill Road and placement of a restrictive traffic island to block left-turning traffic where the shopping center entrances are closest would not constitute a hardship for either drivers or merchants, and would significantly improve pedestrian safety.
Homeowner and Property Information
Would you like to see Homeowner and Property Information for both Aspen Hill Court and Aspen Hill Road?