Silver Spring Station Work Still an Annoyance

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This regards the impact of the construction at the Silver Spring Metro station. I pass through the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road daily, on a Ride On bus or occasionally driving, in the morning hours turning left from inbound Colesville Road to inbound Georgia Avenue. There are four inbound lanes in the morning on Colesville; the fourth must turn left, the third must continue straight, per the overhead signs and lights.

Lately, however, Metrobuses and Ride On buses have been turning from the third lane.

The result is blockading the third lane for through traffic and causing problems for fourth-lane turners needing to get in the first lane of Georgia. I am aware buses can no longer turn left one block farther on.

Since construction began, I have seen little police presence and absolutely no enforcement of the traffic laws here.

During an earlier construction phase, a similar problem arose, and on numerous occasions I saw police officers at the intersection ignore such improper left turns immediately in front of them, yet for years prior, an officer would stake out the intersection and issue tickets for the same offense. I am sure the police have a multitude of other things needing to be handled, but strict enforcement once or twice a week for a couple of weeks might get the idea across.

John Huffman Silver Spring

Construction of the Silver Spring transit center has disrupted vehicle and pedestrian patterns. Traffic and transit officials have been monitoring the scene, and they made some improvements in the temporary setup.

But left-turning buses are still having a problem at several locations. During rush-hour congestion, some of those buses can't get all the way left across several lanes of traffic from their last stop in the right-hand lane. I've noticed this happening on Wayne Avenue at Georgia Avenue as well.

Thomas D. Pogue, spokesman for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, said bus supervisors have made some adjustments in routing and are watching to see if more are needed.

Meanwhile, some other small fixes have been made that contribute to safety and traffic flow. The walkway along Wayne Avenue near the Metro station entrance that some drivers had been using as their personal Kiss & Ride lot now has a concrete barrier to separate cars and people.

The no-turn-on-red restriction partly responsible for jamming up the intersection of Wayne and Dixon avenues, near a county parking garage, has been removed. At the nearby intersection of Wayne and Ramsey, the curb on the east end of the crosswalk was modified to improve the access ramp for wheelchairs and strollers, and a better pedestrian signal was installed.

Also, Pogue said, county police will add another officer during the evening patrol. Some pedestrians have been startled to encounter officers at the crosswalks along busy Wayne Avenue who tell them to wait on the sidewalk until the traffic signal is in their favor. A little enforcement should go a long way toward safety.

Bay Bridge Blues

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As it is common for the so-called eastbound span and westbound span of the Bay Bridge to support both eastbound and westbound traffic, why does every media outlet use those confusing terms?

It would be so much easier to refer to them as the south span and the north span. Or how about original span and newer span? Or maybe, three-lane span and two-lane span?

Phil Kalina Reston

The references to the eastbound and westbound spans used to make sense. But since the Maryland Transportation Authority began to replace the bridge deck, the twin spans have become directionally challenged.

It's very unfortunate that drivers have to endure two-way traffic on one span to allow room for work on the other. The usual drill is that the span that normally handles westbound traffic shuts as early as 8 p.m. and stays closed overnight. Meanwhile, two-way traffic operates on what would normally be the eastbound span. That setup, which will continue into the spring, requires a driver's undivided attention.

If the weather is bad, the construction work might be canceled for the night because two-way operations are impossible. The best place to find updates on bridge conditions is at http://baybridge.com, or call 877-BAYSPAN.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in the Extras and Sunday in the Metro section. You can send e-mails to drgridlock@washpost.com. Include your name, community and phone numbers. Some letters are published. Get There: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/getthere.

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