March 3, 2012

The Feb. 26 Metro article “2 plans to keep trail in tunnel rejected” reported on the frustration of people who use the Capital Crescent Trail at the proposal to reroute them, including bicyclists, stroller-pushing  families and children who use the trail to get to school, “across busy Wisconsin [Avenue] and along local streets.” Rerouting would save $47 million and ease construction of the Purple Line through downtown Bethesda.

As a local who first explored the tunnel as a kid in the 1950s and as a bicyclist who lives four blocks from the tunnel and enjoys using it, I offer the following clarifications.

I strongly doubt there have ever been 10,000 users of the tunnel weekly. It’s used in the morning and evening by bicycle commuters, and at other times by hikers, dog walkers and bikers. Because the trail going toward Connecticut Avenue is unpaved and has many ruts, it is not particularly hospitable to strollers. And I have never seen kids using it to get to school.

While I am delighted to have access directly to “downtown Bethesda,” exiting two blocks earlier into traffic and crossing Wisconsin Avenue, which has many traffic lights, is not exactly summiting Mount Everest, in my mind. The county could hire a crossing guard to work weekends — as it does at some other pedestrian crossings — for a lot less than $47 million.

Bottom line: This trail user is willing to be an adult about the issue and free up $47 million for higher priorities, such as dealing with the out-of-control homelessness issue in Bethesda.

Adam Wenner, Bethesda