Wednesday, October 22, 2008

bus controversy more than a "sour note" for tanglewood

Residents in Tanglewood protested a Metrobus line along Schubert Drive (pictured), causing it to be re-routed out of the community.

Growing up, I was always a little jealous of Tanglewood, the neighborhood across the street from mine, and how many kids I'd always see playing in its many tree-studded cul-de-sacs. I was happy to see the neighborhood at Route 29 and Fairland Road reviewed in last weekend's Post Real Estate section, which called Tanglewood "effective at restoring harmony when the occasional sour note intrudes."

With a mix of condos, townhomes and smaller single-family homes, Tanglewood is a fairly diverse neighborhood, and not a place I'd accuse of trying to keep people out. These are nice, tree-hugging people whose homes will sit in the shadow of a sixty-foot-tall highway interchange when the InterCounty Connector is completed. But they've also made it clear that you don't tangle with Tanglewood, whether you're beavers whose dam clogged their storm water management pond, or SHA proposing a bike path to Tanglewood across the ICC ("It seems like a crime waiting to happen," says resident Bob McFadden).

Tanglewood's biggest triumph would have to be re-routing of a Metrobus line so it wouldn't enter their community. "Residents protested, wrote letters and made phone calls" after the Z6 route was directed through Tanglewood on its way between Silver Spring and Briggs Chaney in 2004, says the article. They even staged a protest, complaining about "noise and safety problems" caused by the buses, despite the line's strong ridership from residents both inside and outside of Tanglewood.

so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .

People walk through woods where the InterCounty Connector will eventually pass by Tanglewood.

A 2004 Gazette article suggests that Tanglewood residents could have purposely parked their cars along Schubert Drive, the main artery, to block buses from using the road and forcing WMATA to suspend the route indefinitely. Whether or not they actually did that, the bus opponents won: last summer, the Z6 was finally taken out of Tanglewood - and along most of Fairland Road as well, forcing riders to walk seven-tenths of a mile to the nearest Z6 stop or ride a more circuitous Ride On bus now serving the neighborhood.

That episode really soured my opinion of Tanglewood, if only because I lived on Fairland Road and I used the Z6, at least until it was taken away. With nearly 900 homes in the subdivision, there's no way that its main roads were too narrow to handle buses, but a vocal minority chose to make it an issue.

The Metrobus Z routes are some of the most heavily-ridden in the region, enough so that they deserve priority on roads in the neighborhoods they serve. No one ever suggested taking away parking along Schubert Drive, which would've inconvenienced people who had other places to put their cars (either in assigned spaces or in garages) for the benefit of people who may not have had cars at all. If a community that puts the needs of a few over the needs of many is one in harmony, then that's a song I'd rather not hear.

1 comment:

Thomas Hardman said...

Maybe the Tanglewood people learnt the lesson of Aspen Hill: you REALLY don't want to have a bus route through your neighborhood.