With two votes against and one in favor, the Montgomery County Council Transportation and Energy Committee voted down a proposal meant to alleviate traffic congestion in North Bethesda near White Flint.
The 2-1 vote at last Thursday’s hearing means the committee will defer approval of Montrose Parkway East, a proposed four-lane highway that would connect the Rockville Pike and the Montrose Road interchange to Veirs Mill Road. The debate over the project proved contentious, as some committee members see the project as a potential infrastructure upgrade that could help lure Amazon to build their new headquarters in the County.
“Now it may happen, it may not happen, we don’t know,” said Council member Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), the lone vote for the project on the committee. “I don’t fault my colleagues for trying to solve other community-based problems, but until we know the results of what’s going on the economic development front, I would suggest we and move we table this conversation until we know the answer.”
Floreen said the committee should wait until after Amazon settles on a location for its planned second headquarters before making a decision on the project, even if it were to take more than a year.
Floreen lost the vote to the other committee members, most notably Roger Berliner (D-District 1), who said he would only vote for the project if Amazon were to choose Montgomery County, but said he has to remain a “no” on the project until that happens.
“I have said repeatedly if Amazon were to choose Montgomery County, this project would move forward as originally planned,” Berliner said.
Berliner offered an amendment to the proposal which said that the project would move forward if a major economic development project such as Amazon’s headquarters was to come to Montgomery County, which in January became one of 20 jurisdictions still in the running to be the site of Amazon’s second headquarters.
Since Amazon announced plans for a second headquarters location, County officials have worked to craft a proposal and bid to help lure the tech giant to the County, reportedly offering the site of the former White Flint shopping mall in North Bethesda as a potential site. Such an offer would make the proposed Montrose Parkway East project all the more important.
“We have 19 other jurisdictions watching us to what we’re going to do about infrastructure to support, possibly, the greatest economic development opportunity that we may ever have the opportunity to experience,” Floreen said.