By Whitney Teal
There’s a minor conundrum in Montgomery County, present for anyone who uses digital GPS or wasn’t born and raised in the county. What’s the preferred and most recognizable way to refer to a state-owned highway—by the state number, like MD 355, or by the name, which can change, like Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike?
Greater Greater Washington recently dedicated 11 paragraphs to this question, referencing common roads like Georgia Avenue (seemingly always called that, never MD 97) Route 29 (which is sometimes called just “29” outside the Beltway, but Colesville Road further south) and the ever-changing 355, which can confuse anyone trying to follow Google Maps directions.
So what’s the standard in Montgomery County? GGW’s David Alpert has this theory:
“Often, people seem to use the number more when talking about places they're mostly passing through, and the name for places they're going to. Rockville Pike is not just a road, but an assemblage of shopping centers that you go to on purpose. Columbia Pike (the Virginia one) is a corridor of neighborhoods, whereas Route 50 more bypasses neighborhoods and moves commuters. It's Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring, a destination, and becomes Route 29 somewhere north.”
What do you think? How do you decide what to call a road with multiple names and a number?