Frederick to Preserve “Rustic” Roads for Future Generations

Frederick County is launching a Rustic Roads Program to ensure the County’s scenic rural roadways are preserved for future generations and balance safe travel with protecting and enhancing the roadways’ unique appeal.

Frederick County is working to preserve some of the region’s rustic charm while balancing safety and transportation needs. The County’s new Rustic Roads Program is a product of the recommendations in the final report (September 2022) of the Scenic and Rural Roads Advisory Committee, which County Executive Jan Gardner appointed in 2020.

The Advisory Committee’s final report explains the history of Frederick County’s interest in rustic roadways:

The Frederick County Rural Roads Program was created by Resolution No. 02-23, approved by the Board of County Commissioners on September 24, 2002. Responsibility for the program was given to the already existing Roads Board, which was established in 1930 (Article II, §§2-11-26 – 2-11-72). The intent of the Rural Roads Program, within the Division of Public Works, was to protect the scenic and historic qualities of designated roads and provide for their continued maintenance. The 62 roads designated by the resolution included 65.4 miles of gravel roads, 30.4 miles of tar-and-chip roads, and 15.2 miles of asphalt roads, for a total of 111 miles.

A press release on the creation of the Rustic Roads Program reads:

The Rustic Roads Program incorporates all 80 miles of lanes that are currently in the 20-year-old Rural Roads Program, designating them as “Exceptionally Rustic.” An additional 287 miles are identified as “Candidate Roads.” To be listed as a Candidate Road, a roadway must: have a posted speed limit of no more than 35 miles per hour, or have no posted limit at all; average fewer than 1,000 vehicle trips per day; and be located outside Community Growth Areas and outside major subdivisions. Roads also may be eligible if there are scenic or natural features along them, or if they have historical or cultural significance.

“We know that preservation is crucial to maintaining our community’s unique characteristics,” County Executive Gardner said. “By launching this Rustic Roads Program, we can preserve Frederick County’s rustic roads in their natural and historic settings so future generations can understand and appreciate our rich agricultural history.”

Helping locals and visitors find and explore rustic roads, the County will design special signs to be posted on Exceptionally Rustic roads:

The signs will be part of a larger branding effort to market the scenic roadways to tourists and to educate the public on the significance of this network of roads and the cultural and historic value they offer.

Montgomery County has had a similar program in place, enacted by legislation in 1993, following a task force in the late 1980s. That county’s program was community-driven, after residents voiced objections to losing the character and safety of rural roads in the 1970s and 80s.

Read the full press release.

Access the Advisory Committee’s final report and recommendations.

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