Friday, May 22, 2009

what's up the pike: still graduating

- The Gazette recaps last Saturday's Safe Silver Spring Summit, where the youth who attended made it clear that they can't survive on "homework clubs" alone: they need unstructured places like "the Turf" as well. "It [was] a big and free space and now we are crammed into that walking area," one student said, referring to "the Turf" and Ellsworth Drive. "We're loitering if we aren't buying something."

- The MTA says they're not interested in tunneling the Purple Line below Wayne Avenue, frustrating residents who oppose putting the transitway down the middle of the busy street. But the tunnel, which would add $170 million to the Purple Line's existing $1.7 billion dollar price tag, doesn't make sense when the project's already imperiled other local transportation projects.

- Last week, the Planning Board decided to postpone their decision to approve an amendment that would allow a pedestrian bridge to be built between the new Silver Spring Library and a parking garage across Wayne Avenue. The bridge debate reveals a vast difference in how people see the central business district - as an urban place where people and transit take precedence over cars, or as the center of a vast suburban area.

For those who believe Silver Spring's becoming a city - like board member and developer Joe Alfandre, best known for the Kentlands in Gaithersburg - the bridge will reduce street activity and encourage speeding. Planning Department director Rollin Stanley, who cut his teeth redeveloping Toronto and St. Louis, says he almost got hit crossing Wayne Avenue at Fenton Street before the hearing. Building a bridge that takes pedestrians off the street will only make drivers less aware of those who remain below.

But board member Jean Cryor, who used to be the State Delegate representing Potomac (a very suburban, car-centric place) doesn't understand why the library isn't putting cars first. "Why would anyone think it would be a good idea to put a library on a street where you can't park?" she's quoted as saying. She doesn't seem to understand that the library will be on top of a Purple Line station and two blocks from the second-largest transit hub in the State, meaning that not everyone who comes there will be concerned about where they'll park.


WashingtonGardener said...

That "Purple Lines takes money away from local road projects" arguement just doesn't pass the sniff test. The ICC has taken ALL the money out of the transit/transportation pool -- there is nothing left in the kitty for these smaller projects. Fighting over nonexistent funds and pitting jurisdictions and small projects against each other solves nothing, except to take the pressure and focus off the big, old elephant in the room (i.e. the ICC). I guess the spin doctors won this round.

Thomas Hardman said...

Ah, isn't the ICC funded by a "Garvey" bond, meaning that it doesn't come out of the State's general transportation fund?

Keep in mind, upper Montgomery -- especially District 4 -- desperately needs more east-west lanes. MD-28/MD-198 between Norbeck and Burtonsville is a mere two lanes and speed limits at or below 45 MPH for those rare times when the traffic isn't bottlenecked.

I have to admit -- it was a campaign platform plank for me, after all -- that I'd really like to see light-medium transit-rail or even Bus Rapid Transit along the length of an improved MD-28/MD-198 from Laurel to Seneca. In the interim, I'd be happy to see simple intersection improvements.

Dan Reed said...

The ICC is well on its way to completion and, as far as I'm concerned, the money's been spent - for better or for worse. As much as I support the Purple Line, I'm aware that there are many East County residents who don't need/won't use it as much as they currently use 28/198. Directly, it lost out to the Purple Line. Indirectly, it lost out to the ICC - the road that parallels it.

If 28/198 was funded, I'd rather see it go to smaller intersection improvements/traffic calming than widening (it passes through many rural neighborhoods that just can't handle a wider highway). Anything that would allow places like Burtonsville and Spencerville, which could already be overwhelmed by the ICC, to retain some fragment of their rural character.

Cary Lamari said...

You need to be more realistic, I support the Purple line, I am not convinced that it will have the rider ship that its hyped up to have but I am hopeful. Many people believe and there is validity that the Purple Line is primarily being promoted to support more growth, this is definitely the case with the Chevy Chase Land Company, Time will tell.

Now as far as the ICC, I agree with you it’s a done deal, it will not be the panacea that it has been touted, but it will promote a significant amount of new development especially in Konterra. Norbeck Road is not parallel with the ICC and serves an entirely different group of trips. Not to mention it is currently failing and all Studies suggest it will only get worse after the ICC is built. If you had followed the Focus Group for the 198/28 widening than you would know Stewart Rochester has always supported a narrower widening without medians and without curbs a more rural widening through Burtonsville and through those more sensitive areas such as the civil war cemetery.

I have supported the Aspen Hill Master Plan widening through that portion of Norbeck. Stewart and I agree that this project does not have to be the same design along the entire route and we feel SHA may accommodate all dynamics if they so choose. SHA is difficult to work with most times however.