Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zombie Bridge

With the obvious exception of Lee, perhaps the most locally-relevant costume for next month's Zombie Walk might very well be the Silver Spring Library bridge, because no matter how many times you try and kill it, it keeps clawing its way back from the grave.



In a "I voted for it before I voted against it"-like move, councilperson Valerie Ervin, who was against the bridge last year, on Monday introduced an amendment to the current plan to allow for another council vote on the inclusion of a bridge in the library plan. Why anyone would expect it to pass now when it failed 8-1 last year is beyond me. Perhaps it's just political pandering. I'm sure the people demanding the bridge have a significantly higher propensity to vote in local elections than the vast majority of MoCo citizens who would balk at spending a million dollars on an unnecessary bridge in the midst of a deep recession and a significant county budget deficit. (And on an already over-budget project, to boot.)

For God's sake, this is the country that sent a man to the moon, yet we can't find a way to put in a few handicapped parking spaces on the same side of the street as a library? Why is this still even an issue? Why, after ten plus years of talking about it, are we not already using our new library? Maybe we should just leave the library space as an empty pit, a physical monument to the Montgomery County government's inefficiency.



43 comments:

Anonymous said...

That bridge would be awesome to skate!

Anonymous said...

No, silly...we could use that "empty" lot for a de-facto skate park. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Michael Robbins said...

Buy books, not bridges. We shouldn't be spending $ on a bridge when we are talking about making cuts to the library building. On top of the cost issue it is BAD URBAN DESIGN.

Anonymous said...

That bridge looks like a phallic symbol protruding from the library, symbolically screwing the Montgomery County taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Valerie Ervin must go for bringing this back up... and let's not forget that Marc Elrich (Ethics Complaint Filed Against Marc Elrich)needs to go as well!

Anonymous said...

The alternative to Valerie Ervin is pretty pathetic. Joseph M. Russek this guy doesn't even have a website! Why do most elections come down to the lesser of too evils?

Patrick Thornton said...

We need to find and promote a better caliber of candidate. It's for the future of Montgomery County.

This whole situation is embarrassing.

Sligo said...

It is too late to run as an independent in the general election in November?

JG said...

Valerie Ervin is also the most unresponsive member of the council. I don't understand how she continues to get elected. I think some of us clear minded people need to get involved in our county politics.

Anonymous said...

So will this new library really work? How many folks really use the old fashion library now days when everything is online? I smell yet another huge failure for DTSS in the works.

JG said...

"I smell yet another huge failure for DTSS in the works."

Um, well for one thing it's not a "new" library, it currently exists down the street. This will be its new location. Given that it will be within walking distance of all of downtown Silver Spring and the metro, I think it will be very busy. I'm 27, not exactly "old fashioned" and the only reason I don't use the current one is that I don't have a car. I'll definitely go to the new location.

Anonymous said...

"I smell yet another huge failure for DTSS in the works."

Huh? Such as...?

P.S. Plenty of people use libraries. You obviously haven't stepped into one in god knows how long, so I don't know why you'd pretend like you're knowledgeable enough to speak on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about both the bridge and Erwin. I contacted her several times about my opposition to the bridge and she never responded. As usual, the more vocal minority gets its way and the politicians benefit from the general apathy of the electorate.

Anonymous said...

Let Ervin know how you feel:

councilmember.ervin@montgomerycountymd.gov

Anonymous said...

This whole situation is embarrassing.

The only thing embarrassing is people arguing about a harmless pedestrian bridge for their BRAND NEW LIBRARY! Municipalities across the country are cutting services and scrapping development plans everyday but here in one of the richest counties going it's hunger strikes and tri-corner hats because someone has the gall to build a covered bridge to the parking garage.

Is this the Most Important Problem we have? God, we are spoiled.

Anonymous said...

No, it's by far not the most important problem we have. That's why it is ABSURD to spend $700 - 800,000 to build this bridge when it can go to other more important things. That is why we are spending time making a big deal out of this bridge. Because at that price it IS a big deal. Seems like you haven't done your research and think we're just a bunch of complaining NIMBYs.

Sligo said...

So we have a billion-dollar defect in Montgomery County, but everyone should get everything they want? Library bridges and skate parks for everyone!

Anonymous said...

The only thing that makes sense right now in development in Silver Spring is the Fillmore Silver Spring. It will actually MAKE money for the county and help us with budget problems. Hey now there is a concept!

Patrick Thornton said...

Anon 2:55,

You're right, the bridge isn't that big of a deal, which is why it is perplexing that it keeps coming up, despite being voted down. So, why even consider dropping $1 million on it or spend more time debating something that has been shot down before (and is prohibited by DTSS's master plan).

It just doesn't make sense for people to keep bring this up, but here we are, one of our elected officials couldn't resist.

Montgomery County may be a wealthy county, but that doesn't mean the county itself doesn't have budget problems. If the people of DTSS don't want the bridge (it's not that harmless, if you would educate yourself) and it costs money, why is it still being debated?

If your opinion was worth standing behind, you would have used your real name.

Anonymous said...

As someone who lives in the high rise building right next door to the future library, let me say that I hope they build the bridge just to lessen the number of pedestrians attempting to cross Wayne Avenue once the library is open. I've seen how bad some other intersections in the DTSS area are with pedestrians who cross when they have a do-not-cross signal, and it will just end up resulting in a nasty accident that will lead to lawsuits totaling a lot more than the price tag for the bridge. As it is, too many people cross Wayne Avenue in the middle (i.e., not at a crosswalk).

Seeing as how a large number of future library users will be driving in from areas not walking distance to DTSS, and most of those users will be parking in the Wayne Avenue garage, how does this not make sense? It's not like there are any other ground level shops walking from the garage to the library that those users would be missing by crossing a bridge (the only thing you'd pass is the sports club on the corner), so the "bad urban design" argument doesn't really work here. Some people need to stop being so self-serving, using cost as an excuse against building something that clearly serves a public purpose.

[Side note: Sometimes I think adding a well-marked crosswalk from the Wayne Avenue garage across to where the small strip of stores is (coin shop, Ghar-e-Kebab, etc.) wouldn't be a bad idea...]

Anonymous said...

Which company is building the bridge, and how much money has it donated to Ervin and the other council members who support this project?

Anonymous said...

I say we should build the bridge just so we can name it in honor of a former county resident who departed this life recently. No, not Lee you sillies, but someone with a more enduring legacy, a former US senator! Okay, maybe I'm partial to this idea because I went to a MoCo PUBLIC school with his son Ben, but I think we should build it using the money that would have been spent on books, computers, etc. That way we can have our very own bridge to nowhere! That's right - The Ted Stevens Memorial Bridge!

Sligo said...

The bridge would be a series of tubes.

Robert said...

This isn't a zombie bridge; it is a phoenix bridge! And it is not only needed; it is the best and least expensive alternative.

The bridge is absolutely needed to provide adequate handicapped access to the library. The library will house a disabilities resources center but there is no way to provide handicapped parking on the site -- which has a Purple Line station running through it and other complications -- at a cost comparable using the existing garage across the street and building the bridge. It makes a lot more sense to use an existing facility than build new parking!

We're not talking about building a whole series of pedestrian bridges connecting buildings for blocks. That might legitimately be considered anti-urban. This is simply a way to get people from a parking garage to a library without the vision impaired having to find a torturous course around and across Wayne or without others having to negotiate wheel chairs or walkers on a long path.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so how are the vision impaired getting there in the first place? Driving? If not, won't they have to cross other streets to get there. Is it easier for them to go up a level on a garage to cross? Please explain.

Anonymous said...

Screw it - let's just build a whole network of tunnels so that no one has to walk along any streets in DTSS!

I honestly can't understand why people complain about Wayne+Fenton intersection...I walk to Elsworth all the time through this intersection and think it's exceptionally tame. Have these people next walked Wayne+Georgia, Georgia+Colesville, Colesville+Fenton, etc.?

Patrick Thornton said...

With or without the pedestrian bridge, this the library has to meet ADA guidelines. The idea that this bridge provides "access to all," is not only laughable but it is an outright lie. The library will meet ADA requirements without the bridge! It has to. By law.

That's what makes this whole debate so infuriating. It's not about disabled persons. Many people who are truly disabled don't drive. Certainly the visually impaired can't and many others can't either. Public transportation is the more accessible option for them. Our car culture has had a great impact on diminishing accessibility for so many groups, and this bridge serves to promote that diminished accessibility.

I'll tell you who finds this bridge more accessible: Car drivers not from the immediate area. You get to drive to DTSS, avoid actually walking on the streets and have a speedy get-away. Fantastic.

People who live in DTSS don't want the bridge. It's for people from outside of the immediate area or for people who refuse to use public transportation. How sad is that. Silver Spring has some of the best public transportation in the world, and here we are debating a silly, needless bridge to serve a minority of people who insist on driving.

A minority of people who wish to diminish the livability of actual residents of the area. How selfish.

To paint this bridge as some great accessibility project for the disabled is incredibly shameful. I hope the good, honest people of Silver Spring, who want to make this place a better place to live, see through this lie. The new library will be handicap accessible. It's the law.

This bridge was never about accessibility.

GingerR said...

I still don't understand why they are spending all this money to move and build a new library when the old library is not far and sits on a lot plenty big for an expansion AND it has a parking lot adjacent to the building that a handicap person could easily use to access to library without having to navigate a busy street.

This is a wasteful project from start to finish.

JG said...

I suggest to everyone to contact other members of the council with arguments along the lines of Patrick's. He is absolutely right. Also email Ervin, but be prepared to get an automated message in 3 weeks that strongly indicates no one from her office has read it. Happened to me a few weeks ago, and then I was added to her email list. Great representation there Valerie.

Anonymous said...

My $.02 - I just think the people who want the bridge are lazy and are a big reason why we are running such huge deficits. The handicapped users of the library will get there just fine. Or are you telling me that if the bridge is not built no handicapped users will come? Really? Come on people... get off your ass and get some exercise by walking across a single block! You cross far deadlier streets every day and you seem to be getting by fine? Or do you want bridges built everywhere you go so you are safe? If you guys want the bridge so bad, why don't you start a petition and let's see just how many residents really want this. Who knows maybe you will get enough people together to start a bake sale or car wash and fund the bridge yourself... or was I correct in saying you are just too lazy to get it done?

Mike said...

Isn't safely crossing a street a skill we all learn before kindergarten? The whole debate is silly.

Anonymous said...

Patrick -- Yes, the library has to meet ADA guidelines. And if any parking were actually built onsite, it too would have to meet ADA guidelines for library access. But because no parking is being built onsite, disabled patrons are pretty much at the mercy of whatever happens to be the closest parking -- about 350 feet away. You get a handicapped permit if you can't walk 200 feet without resting...
And, by the way, many who are truly disabled DO drive.

Patrick Thornton said...

If the issue is about walking too far, just put a crosswalk mid block on Wayne. Of course this cheap, easy option is not being discussed because it would impact car drivers.

Anonymous said...

Will people really want to park in the garage if they still have to pay for parking? Currently, patrons using handicap spaces still have to pay the hourly rate.

Anonymous said...

A mid-block crossing was studied and rejected early on. Go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/DGS/DBDC/Resources/SSL/Study-Mid-BlockCrossing2009-2.pdf

and see for yourself. In and out traffic for the garage and distance to the lights are the main issues.

Patrick Thornton said...

This really isn't about a pedestrian bridge, but about town planning. How can the mater plan for DTSS forbid pedestrian bridges and then our elected officials go and make a building design and location choice that causes people to demand a bridge? Why didn't the county choose a better location?

City Place would have been ideal. It's a blight on the town, and underutilized. The bottom floor that has shops on Ellsworth could have been kepted, while the higher floors converted into a library. The building could have been converted to look nice from the outside and the windows. Plus City Place already has it's very own anti-urban pedestrian bridge!

My guess it that our county leaders got grandiose and legacy happy. They wanted a statement building. The proposed library is striking, but is it the best location?

If the location is good then we shouldn't need to be discussing a pedestrian bridge.

Maybe our county leaders had the right idea with the library, and want to make Silver Spring more urban, dense and walkable, but suburban curmudgeons are coming out of the woodwork to impose their car fetish on DTSS. On the other hand, maybe some of the bridge advocates have a point about the garage. Maybe it really is a location issue.

I don't know the answers to this, but it would seem to me better town planning would have averted this.

Patrick Thornton said...

For the record, I emailed Ervin. No response. That seems to be a common theme.

People can email Steve Jobs -- one of the busiest and most important people in the world -- and get a response, but our elected leader can't respond? How many emails does she really get?

I take it she must be too busy posing for photo ops at ground breakings to actually discuss issues with voters. I'm not sure if this is a bad reflection on her as out elected leader or on us for electing her.

Liz Brent said...

Mike, I'm sorry to say that crossing the street is NOT something most kids learn before kindergarten because few parents let their grade schoolers walk to school on their own! These kids will grow up and NEED a bridge, and tunnels, and a crossing guard and who knows what else. This is an increasingly urban area and all of need to learn how to live in it. Including kids.

Anonymous said...

Patrick,
I'm not sure why I'm bothering to discuss it since everything's obviously already moving forward, but putting the library in city place is a terrible idea. Sure half of the mall is crappy now. But 10 years from now? Probably going to be a different story. Why would we take the densest retail block of inside the beltway MoCo and throw it out completely? Unless you think DTSS is getting ready to die, economically, it doesn't make any sense on any level.

Patrick Thornton said...

I agree that City Place would ideally be a great retail location. It's not, and doesn't appear to be on the right path. What are we on City Place 3.0 these days? I've lost track, but it's not just a matter of time for City Place to get good.

City Place as currently constructed cannot work. People come to areas like Silver Spring for Ellsworth, Fenton Village, places on Georgia, etc. They come for the urban experience. A bad suburban mall will not work. The built environment of City Place itself is the issue, not the tenants.

A marque tenant does not want to occupy that space, given the built environment and the history of City Place. City Place needs to be redone. I don't think it would take much to transform it into something that matches the rest of Ellsworth, complete with outdoor shops and a beautiful facade but it's not simply a matter of time before better stores arrive.

Putting a library in City Place and developing Wayne would be better than putting a library on Wayne and leaving City Place as a blight on Silver Spring. If Silver Spring is to reach its true potential, City Place has to go. It doesn't just need new owners, it needs a new vision -- a vision that matches the vision of Downtown Silver Spring.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a suburban style mall isn't ideal, but I do think there's value in the structure and the main impediment is the stores themselves. I think DTSS now has the population, economy, and desire not to commute up Georgia to support a more middle/upper-middle class of stores as opposed to the ghetto, knockoff versions we currently have. I do think it's just a matter of time before the "real" stores will replace their cheap counterparts - assuming that DTSS continues to grow in wealth and population, which I think it is, see today's Groundbreaking at 1150 Ripley Street.

Pete said...

Re: City Place, If my memory serves me correctly, City Place's exterior is mostly protected as "historic." I don't think you can just knock out some big windows on the Ellsworth side and call it a day.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

"I'm sorry to say that crossing the street is NOT something most kids learn before kindergarten because few parents let their grade schoolers walk to school on their own!"

Personally, I teach kids how to cross the street by walking across with them. I don't point them toward the crosswalk and wish them the best of luck.