Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Bridge on the Street Wayne

Outside of thinking it might look a little awkward, I don’t really give a rat’s ass whether the new library has a pedestrian bridge or not. However, at a time when the county government has a ONE BILLION DOLLAR budget deficit, is it really prudent to be constructing an elective $800K addition such as this simply because a vocal minority demands it? It's surprising that this continues to be considered by many as a viable option. Given the current fiscal climate, even Ike Leggett must be reevaluating his support of the bridge.

As reported on ThayerAvenue.com, the East Silver Spring Civic Association is the latest group to lend their support to the construction of the bridge, voting overwhelming to do so in their meeting last night. What actual weight their support carries, I have no idea. The type of people who openly express RAGE over the prospect of that they might have to pay 50/75 cents an hour to park at a library (“It's un-American!”) are likely the same ones who have no problem with all Montgomery County residents shouldering the cost of an $800K bridge during a recession.

If they are going to ultimately build the bridge, here are some potential ways to do it equitably:

- Conduct a county-wide survey of residents’ preference for a library bridge. The $800K (plus overruns!) price tag will be divided equally and added to the tax bills of those who responded in the affirmative. The cost doesn’t even need to be divided uniformly - I have no qualms with making the supplementary charge progressive based on income. To prevent freeloaders from using the bridge, only those taxpayers who helped pay for it will be permitted to cross. Each of these people will be issued a keycard required to access to the bridge. Even better, to avoid sharing of keycards, a biometric identity validation system can be installed.

- Collect a toll from each library visitor who wishes to cross the bridge to offset construction costs. Of course, the toll would probably need to be in the thousands of dollars per crossing (about on par with taking a trip on the ICC).

- Only permit sufficiently disabled people to cross the bridge, as they are the ones for whom the bridge is intended. We wouldn't want any excessive wear on our precious bridge, would we? A physician would be stationed at the entrance to the bridge. Each prospective bridge-crosser would be required to submit to a comprehensive physical exam. If the doctor determines that the person is physically unable to take the elevator to the first floor and cross Wayne Avenue, they will be permitted to utilize the bridge. Otherwise, they will be made to walk their able-bodied ass across the street.
I’ve also been wondering lately how it is that the staff of the current Silver Spring library is permitted to actively promote the construction of a bridge at the future library. Not only do they have pro-bridge signs displayed all over the library grounds, they are distributing the lawn signs inside the building. They have every right to be in favor of the proposal, but in general are government employees allowed to make overt stands in the workplace on contentious political issues?

At this point, I’d be fine if they just kept the old library and sold the land allocated for the new library to a worthwhile retailer. At least the current library is in my neighborhood. Most of the books I check out are ordered from other branches, anyway.

On a related subject, one development that should be interesting to follow is Ike Leggett’s recent proposal to start charging for parking at the Rockville and Bethesda libraries.
Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and City Council member Mark Pierzchala said the elimination of free parking for the library would have an adverse effect on the city.

"Of course I don't like it. It will have a negative impact on Town Square," Pierzchala said of the mixed-use development in the heart of the city. "We don't know who'll pay" for parking.
Really, how cheap and/or poor are people in Montgomery County these days? Parking in Rockville costs a dollar. I though MoCo residents were wealthy, or did all the rich people move to Virginia already? Perhaps I am just out of touch with the common man.

You know if they are paying for parking in Rockville and Bethesda, we’ll be paying for it in Silver Spring at our new library. There’s another fight we can all look forward to.

Also, in brief...

- Don't miss the latest Handmade Mart this Sunday from 10-5 on The Promenade.

- Nicaro: You're fired.

- Could Fire Station 1 be open by Friday? The Washington City Paper's Young & Hungry blog says maybe.

- I finally tracked down this shirt after seeing it for sale years ago and regrettably not buying it:

For those of you that hate Virginia as much as I do, it can be purchased online here.



48 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a Silver Spring booster, I'm surprised you have no view on the bridge over Wayne. I think it's a terrible idea in large part because it encourages people to drive to the lot, go to the library, and immediately leave. From an urban design perspective it does nothing to enocurage pedestrians to walk to shops and restaurants nearby. Not to mention that it will be a total waste of money and an eyesore.

Jon said...

If MoCo is going to build a damn bridge anywhere in Silver Spring, PLEASE build it from somewhere on East West Hwy over to Georgia near the Fire Station so what should be a 4 minute walk doesn take 10-12 min as it currently does now having to go all the way around the railroad tracks.

As for the Library I don't understand the problem. Walk there or park your car and walk across the street. Why do you need a bridge? You're not crossing a moat.

Sligo said...

To clarify, I think the bridge is stupid, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it if they included it (provided I don't have to pay for it, that is.)

Anonymous said...

As a tax payer and loyal library patron, I'm not willing to fund this bridge. I have visions of the pedestrian bridge from Forest Glen over Georgia Avenue that almost no one uses.

If MoCo's going to raise my taxes to support the library I'd rather they save the Noyes library or permanently reinstate librarians and information staff at branches open on Sundays. Or better yet, stop operating at a billion dollar deficit.

whatsupwheaton said...

I agree with Jon as I used to live near the Blairs and if there ever was a need for a bridge its right there.
Not sure I care about the library bridge one way or the other but do care if its going to take money away from more important things.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the few who uses the bridge at Forest Glen - I do appreciate not having to play frogger trying to cross two freeway on-ramps every time I walk to or from my home to work. If they do build the bridge, hopefully the county has learned its lesson and the new library bridge won't be set up as the perfect mugging spot...

I do oppose the bridge in general, though - why build the elevator in the garage if you are just going to connect it to everything? Also, what if you have to park on a different level than the bridge? Wouldn't that defeat its purpose?

Can we set up an anti-bridge petition at the library so everyone's voice is heard?

Melanie said...

Love Jon's idea. Help integrate both sides of Silver Spring already.

Anonymous said...

What I "love" are the signs everyone has in their yards that say "build the library bridge: access for all" AS IF there would not be access for some if they didn't build it. There is full, state-of-the art handicapped access/crossings from the garage over to the library. I fully support barrier-free access, but it's absurd to build an $800K bridge for this singular use when existing access is more than adequate.

Gary said...

City Place Library!

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Regarding a bridge from E-W to Georgia, you can cut through the NOAA garage and use the one over the tracks to Wayne. It's messy with the construction, but I use it regularly. That pedestrian walkway under the tracks at Georgia Avenue smells terrible and feel creepy even with the art installed on the walls.

I also think the library bridge is a waste of money. Use the $800K to buy more books or other content for the library.

ForestGlen said...

That T-shirt is clutch, I am so getting one!

Regarding the bridge I also use the Forest Glen bridge nearly everyday on my commute to the Metro.

Don't see any need for a bridge to the Silver Spring library however, maybe they should take the $800k-plus they would save to not raise parking rates/increase paying hours in DTSS

Jon said...

" Could Fire Station 1 be open by Friday? The Washington City Paper's Young & Hungry blog says maybe."

OK, I'm in a rush and didn't read the blog post yet so maybe they know something I don't, but I looked through the window of FS1 on MOnday and the inside looks like it is gutted or in the early phases of being put together. The outside looks good and is probably done, but the inside really didn't look like it would be ready for weeks, perhaps months. Then again I'm not in construction so maybe they can do all of that work in a few days, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

woody said...

Woody Brosnan wrote:
As president of another civic association, north woodside, I would like to point out the other side. Not building the bridge also will mean costs because you have to provide for handicapped parking at the library site if you don't build the bridge. As for cost, this is a capital budget item for a project that is a couple of years down the road. But this is largely a safety issue. Without the bridge there is going to be a lot of jaywalking across Wayne. I am also surprised at the tone of this blog item, which sounds more like something we would see on Fox news. The bridge is an issue for a reasoned debate, not diatribe.

Anonymous said...

Can someone fill in some details for me about this bridge:

1. What level of the parking garage will it be connected to?

2. Where in the library will it take you? Will the library have multiple levels, and if so, will it put you on the main level?

Jon said...

"Without the bridge there is going to be a lot of jaywalking across Wayne."

So put a officer there to write Jaywalking tickets. Perhaps that would help offset the bloated cost of paying police pensions in this county.

Seriously though, if there is no bridge there will definitely have to be the provisions you mentioned in addition to making that crossing safer. That's fine. The bridge causes such anger because it's the typical lazy suburban solution to a problem. We're not suburban, DTSS is urban. Walk across the street safely and within the law. People do it everywhere, should be no different for people in Silver Spring.

Sligo said...

I'm not against reasoned debate, just endless debate. This is why we can't have anything nice around here.

Anonymous said...

They could turn Wayne Ave or part of it into pedestrian only and that would make it safe, urban, and wouldn't cost $800k. I hate the bridge too because I can see it turning into something like the hideous urine-soaked nightmare that is the viers mill bridge at Wheaton.

Anonymous said...

There's a reason the master plan forbade pedestrian bridges, because they are anti-urban. If Library patron's get a bridge, why not everyone else? Deal with the intersection if it's that bad, (which I agree it is) but don't waste everyones tax dollars because you want to float in and out of our dear city, and not cross paths with the people on the street.
-Silver Spring Tea Party

Robert said...

Only rarely have I seen such misinformation on this blog. Yes, the library bridge will cost a little less than $800,000. But that is a lot less than the well over $3.5 million -- official county estimate -- to build the minimum number of ADA-required handicapped parking spaces under the new building. That cost is ridiculously high because of bedrock. Thus building the bridge will save us about $2.7 million. The bridge makes sense to this taxpayer on that basis alone.

The library will have one of two Disabilities Resources Centers in the county. Clearly handicapped parking will be needed. The sidewalk route from the garage to the library entrance is 300 feet -- beyond the ADA maximum without the bridge.

The bridge will connect the third floor of the new building to the parking garage. Because the Purple Line station takes the corner of the building, the library will actually start on the building's third floor. The bridge will connect to the main level of the library and in effect be the library's front door for most of is users, the vast majority of whom come from beyond walking distance.

There are no "shops and restaurants" along the sidewalk from the garage elevator to the corner of Wayne and Fenton and then back to the library entrance on the other side of Wayne, so it is unclear how having the bridge will discourage people going to these nonexistent shops and restaurants. In fact, by making it easier for people to cross the street from the garage, the bridge will actually encourage more visitors to shops and restaurants south of Wayne. Many people combine library visits with other errands. The bridge will increase library use and thereby encourage visits to nearby businesses. If there is no convenient parking and access to the library, people will go to other libraries. If they go to Bethesda, Wheaton, Chevy Chase, etc., they obviously won't visit the shops and restaurants near the Silver Spring library when the visit the library. Maybe that is why so many businesses south of Wayne support building the bridge.

And why is this bridge supposedely so "anti-urban?" Nobody complains about the other bridges in downtown Silver Spring and people gushed with enthusiasm about the forthcoming "double-helix" bridge over Cameron Street.

Meanwhile the Gazette reports the county council just approved $2.4 million for a trail bridge across a ravine between the Long Branch Community Center to the Long Branch Library. That seems a lot more questionable than $700,000 for decent handicapped access to what will be one of the largest libraries in the county and one of two Disabilities Resources Centers.

Anonymous said...

Build the bridge. Whatever. Just make it a rule that you can't hang dopey banners off it for "South Silver Spring Civic Action Community Awareness Organic Family FunFest Safety Day Arts Fair".

ForestGlen said...

This conversation "sounds more like something we would see on Fox news?"

Really? Just because we don't agree with your opinion doesn't make it "diatribe."

And someone please provide a link to the "official county estimate" that says building the number of ADA-required handicapped spaces will cost $3.5 million....

I smell horsesh*t!

Robert said...

re: "And someone please provide a link to the "official county estimate" that says building the number of ADA-required handicapped spaces will cost $3.5 million..... I smell horsesh*t!"

I shared your reaction when I first heard the $3.5 million number. The cost is ridiculous but apparently real. I was told it relates to the necessity to put the parking spaces under the building and bedrock being very near the surface. The source of the number is a January 19th e-mail from the Public Services Administrator of the Montgomery County Public Libraries. The relevant quote is: "Plans to provide five under building handicapped spaces were developed and presented at the Council hearing; the estimated cost was $3,557,824; the cost for the bridge was estimated at $745,228."

Readers interested in the bridge question might also want to take a look at the Park and Planning Commission's blog, which has a drawing of United Therapeutics "double helix" bridge to be built over Cameron Street. See: http://montgomeryplanning.org/blog-design/?p=1612. The planners were very enthusiastic about that bridge. Why not the library bridge?

Terry in Silver Spring said...

"Yes, the library bridge will cost a little less than $800,000. But that is a lot less than the well over $3.5 million -- official county estimate -- to build the minimum number of ADA-required handicapped parking spaces under the new building. That cost is ridiculously high because of bedrock. Thus building the bridge will save us about $2.7 million. "


Create more handicapped spaces on the first floor of the garage. They'll be the same distance from the Library that the ones created adjacent to the garage end of the proposed walkway will be.

Anonymous said...

More HC spaces on the 1st floor of the garage??? Are you crazy? The users would still have to go out onto the sidewalk(gasp!), then negotiate the superhighway cloverleaf intersection of Wayne & Fenton. What a silly idea you pragmatist :)

Anonymous said...

Creating handicapped spaces on the first floor would require those with wheelchairs or walkers to cross at least two lanes of traffic going into and out of the garage since there are no parking spaces to the right of the parking entrance/exit. As an able-bodied walker, I often have to sprint to avoid getting hit by cars entering or leaving the garage.

Anonymous said...

$800,000. For a people bridge. From a parking lot ACROSS THE STREET. A parking lot that HAS ELEVATORS. 4 elevators to be exact. Incredible. Spend spend spend....

WashingtonGardener said...

For those is SOUTh SS - wishing to easily come over to East SS:

as Terry said there IS a bridge from 410 to Georgia by cutting thru NOAA andcrossing to Marc station - right now a pain due to transit construction.

BUT there is another BETTER alternative crossing OVER the urine-soaked underpass on Georgia - just climb the steps near Mayorga - go over - climb steps back down - no stank, dank tunnel - easy-peasy! This is a bike path overpass. Explore a bit and check it out.

Springvale Roader said...

Sligo,

We need a man among us willing to come to his senses and, at the very last minute, fall upon the detonator's plunger (figuratively speaking, of course).

Actually, I have no opinion on this topic. I just wanted to give you the appropriate h/t.

Anonymous said...

I am, too, one of those people who could give a flying fig if they put a bridge there or now. With that said, I've continually been turned off by proponents of the bridge with statements like "As an able-bodied walker, I often have to sprint to avoid getting hit by cars entering or leaving the garage."

Why am I the only who hasn't had to sprint, dive, dodge, and, generally, be the most well-conditioned athlete to avoid being hit in DTSS?

Anonymous said...

I am, too, one of those people who could give a flying fig if they put a bridge there or now. With that said, I've continually been turned off by proponents of the bridge with statements like "As an able-bodied walker, I often have to sprint to avoid getting hit by cars entering

Anonymous said...

Attempt 2:
I am, too, one of those people who could give a flying fig if they put a bridge there or not. With that said, I've continually been turned off by proponents of the bridge with statements like "As an able-bodied walker, I often have to sprint to avoid getting hit by cars entering or leaving the garage."

There are far too many arguments from bridge proponents making walking in DTSS seem like you need to be a world-class athlete able to avoid cars aiming to mow you down.

Face it, it isn't the end of the world if the bridge isn't built. Exaggerating the consequences of no bridge are silly.

Anonymous said...

Attempt 2:
I am, too, one of those people who could give a flying fig if they put a bridge there or not. With that said, I've continually been turned off by proponents of the bridge with statements like "As an able-bodied walker, I often have to sprint to avoid getting hit by cars entering or leaving the garage."

There are far too many arguments from bridge proponents making walking in DTSS seem like you need to be a world-class athlete able to avoid cars aiming to mow you down.

Face it, it isn't the end of the world if the bridge isn't built. Exaggerating the consequences of no bridge are silly.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the multiple posts.

RLS said...

I know the bridge draws everyone's ire, but I want to bring attention to Robert's comment about how without it the new library does not meet ADA guidelines. It has always been my impression that the bridge was the cheapest solution to meeting that need. Perhaps its not the most "urban" solution, but if you want to spend more money on that, we can have that argument... let's just go into both of them with all the facts. This isn't about having perfectly capable people who whine about crossing the street appeased. This is about meeting the ADA regulation (at least that has always been what I have understood). Let's quit our knee-jerk reacting and do some actual journalism on this subject before we all start our yelling.

Anonymous said...

If MoCo is going to build a bridge, we desperately need one at Georgia Avenue and Forest Glen Road. People have been hit and killed crossing the road on their way to/from Metro. I am quite cautious and have endured several near misses myself.

ForestGlen said...

According to this document (http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/pdf/agenda/col/2009/090504/20090504_5.pdf) another option is "drop-off access" instead. Sounds like a much cheaper option than either the bridge or on-site parking.

RLS said...

It looks like "on-site dropoff" would be in addition to other things - at least that is how I read it. What would that mean, like a circle out front? Would that interfere with the purple line? I don't know much about it, and I honestly am not invested enough to do all the research required, but I think the conversation should turn to things more constructive than "I hate the bridge idea!!!1!"

Anonymous said...

If it really is the cheapest alternative, then why in the world would MoCo even be mulling it over? Why the need for the parade floats and pep rallies and special mascot appearances? If the issue really is disabled access, then the sign-waving crowd should be HAPPIER with the allegedly more expensive (yet much closer to the entrance) on-site handicapped parking. If the issue is money, then it's a no-brainer--assuming that the quoted costs are accurate--and MoCo likely wouldn't have shot it down in the initial planning stages.

Again, can anyone support the $800,000 vs $3.5 million figures? Bueller? Bueller?

Anonymous said...

So let's say you're handicapped and live in downtown silver spring because you are unable to drive a car. Now you want to go to the library, how the hell are you supposed to do that if you can't drive to the third floor of the parking garage? Don't you have ANY compassion!

Terry in Silver Spring said...

"Why am I the only who hasn't had to sprint, dive, dodge, and, generally, be the most well-conditioned athlete to avoid being hit in DTSS?"

I usually mosey and chat as I'm walking through that garage and around the renovated DTSS area.

I was hit by a car once, but it was over at 16th and East-West Highway. An elderly gentleman forgot to look for pedestrians before making a right turn on red and laid me across the hood of his car. No joke. In DTSS, I've never even had to quicken my step, let alone run for my safety. Running wouldn't have helped when I was hit, actually. He sort of snuck up behind me.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

"If it really is the cheapest alternative, then why in the world would MoCo even be mulling it over? Why the need for the parade floats and pep rallies and special mascot appearances? "


Because we are Montgomery County and this is our way.

Pete said...

I just read through all the old Silver Spring Penguin posts on the library/bridge (which go back AT LEAST to October 2008) and now I forget how I feel about it.

On one hand, if it's the cheapest and easiest way to meet ADA requirements (which are, after all, in place for a reason), then build the bridge, I guess.

It seems like there must be another solution, though. Remind me again why the current parking in the garage doesn't meet ADA requirements for the new library site.

Karen said...

I'm not sure where the $3.5 mil figure for ADA compliant on-site parking comes from, but this article from the county parks and planning commission says planners say first floor parking for people with disabilities would be cheaper than the bridge.

http://montgomeryforum.net/showthread.php?p=27452

"The proposed library includes a special book collection for the disabled. Planners suggest a library design with limited parking on the first level to serve people with disabilities as well as those seeking a quick-drop for book returns. Those spaces would meet American with Disabilities Act requirements, be practical for patrons with special needs and cost less than a raised bridge, planners assert."

Robert said...

Concerning: "Planners suggest a library design with limited parking on the first level to serve people with disabilities as well as those seeking a quick-drop for book returns. Those spaces would meet American with Disabilities Act requirements, be practical for patrons with special needs and cost less than a raised bridge, planners assert."

That would have worked, but the selection of the final Purple Line route required that the building be designed to accommodate the Purple Line station and running the Purple Line through the building. That's why the library ended up on the third and higher floors.

Concerning putting handicapped parking on the first floor of the Wayne Avenue Garage, going up and down in elevators isn't the problem. The parking could be on any level in the garage. The problem is the long distance to the corner of Wayne and Fenton, crossing five lanes of traffic, and then the distance back to the library entrance since the Purple Line station is at the corner. Putting a crosswalk across Wayne directly from the garage to the library might solve the problem, but apparently a crosswalk in mid-block is a non-starter with the traffic people because of safety and traffic volume concerns. Hence the bridge is the least expensive practical solution.

Scott said...

On a different topic, is Nicaro back open? We have a gift certificate to there and were thinking of using it this weekend! Or what are folks thinking of Pacci's these days?

Melanie said...

Pacci's rocks. I still haven't heard of a decent argument for the bridge. As an editorial stated in the Gazzette, you still have to walk there either on a bridge or the sidewalk. I'll bet my bottom dollar there's at least one elevator from the street level up to the library.

On another note, my kids are going to love seeing the trains go under them while reading the Bearnstein Bears!

Sligo said...

Melanie:

Your kids will probably already be out of college by the time they get around to building the Purple Line!

Charles said...

A bridge over Wayne to the new Library? You gotta be kidding! Montgomery County needs to focus on synchronizing a few traffic lights and redesigning the turn lanes.

Getting through Silver Spring on Fenton is a disaster and will be worse with people getting to a library; unless the lone County traffic engineer gets smart.