A review of that process shows how complicated it can be to repair one bit of aging infrastructure.
Long, winding road
The bridge takes University Boulevard (Route 193) over the Beltway. Route 193 is among the many unsung strings of asphalt that knit together the D.C. region’s transportation system.
It’s a southeast/northwest connector that’s known as Watkins Park Drive where it meets Largo Road a few miles north of Upper Marlboro, becomes Enterprise Road and Glenn Dale Boulevard, then Greenbelt Road and finally University Boulevard as it moves from Prince George’s
into Montgomery County and eventually joins Connecticut Avenue.
For many thousands of Maryland drivers, Route 193 is part of the east-west commute, but its role gets especially complicated around the Beltway. There, as the roadway passes along a ridge between tributaries of the Anacostia River, it’s lined with schools, churches, single-family homes and a fire station, all with driveways facing the road.
At the bridge, drivers pour on and off both loops of the Beltway. Some connect with roads heading to and from downtown Silver Spring and the District. Others leave the Beltway to join a sluggish westward migration across Montgomery County.
All that activity swirls around several communities hugging the Beltway. These neighbors had received a brochure from the SHA inviting them to last week’s meeting at nearby Montgomery Blair High School to hear about the project and ask questions.
The brochure explained that the bridge will be reduced from three lanes to two lanes in each direction to create the work zone for the two-year reconstruction. The portion of the outer loop ramp that takes traffic toward the bridge will be closed, and traffic detoured.
To the horror of many who live in the Indian Spring community near the bridge, the brochure showed a proposed two-mile detour that took outer loop drivers one exit west to Colesville Road (Route 29), then brought them back east to University via Franklin Avenue, a route the neighbors say is already overburdened and would annoy the commuters as well as the communities.
But by the time the meeting got underway, the SHA already had heard enough to decide against marking that detour. That was the right answer as far as the neighbors were concerned, though they still have questions about how much traffic will divert itself into their streets, how safe the sidewalks will be, and how much traffic they will have to fight to get out of their own driveways.