Rockcrest citizens, who led a fight to prevent the closing of the Edmonston Drive Bridge during pending Metro construction, said at a Rockville City Council meeting this week that their battle with the transit authority is not over yet.
"We got half of what we wanted and we're going to fight for the rest if at all possible," said Russ Taggart, a Rockcrest civic leader.
What the Rockville residents won was assurance from Metro that the bridge will remain open to pedestrians while it is being rebuilt. Metro still plans to close the bridge to vehicular traffic in late January.
The residents said they are concerned that closing the bridge to cars will create massive traffic jams in the neighborhood and force motorists to drive three to four extra miles to reach Rockville Pike. Rockcrest residents appealed to council members for help in convincing Metro to keep the bridge open to motorists also. Mayor William E. Hannna Jr. and council member John Tyner said, however, they see no way the bridge can be kept open to cars when subway construction begins.
Metro has told the city the cost of building a temporary bridge would be at least $500,000.
Hanna said he could not "favor an extraordinary expenditure like that for a temporary solution." Metro also has has told the council that the city will have to underwrite the $100,000 cost of a temporary footbridge because Metro funds are earmarked for other projects.
The citizens also say Metro could easily rebuild the bridge in less than the scheduled year.
"There's no reason it should take a year to build a bridge. Why should we be inconvenienced that long?" asked Rockcrest resident Joseph Scott.
Tyner suggested that citizen meet with city traffic engineers to discuss the bridge construction timetable and then meet with Metro officials.
Rockcrest citizens, who collected 921 signatures on a petition opposing the bridge closing, contend that closing the bridge would have made it impossible for pedestrians, particularly the elderly and high school students, to reach Rockville Pike.
Hanna told the citizens, "You deserve the credit for the solution. Your presence heightened the sensitivity of people in Metro." He added that he feels the citizens "have gained their major objective," but added, "if you can show them (Metro) how to build it (the bridge) in a shorter period of time, we'll be on your side."
In other action, the council advanced a step in its plan to revitalize the city's downtown business district.
The council introduced an ordiance to adopt the Town Center Urban Design Plan developed for the city by architect Arthur Cotton Moore. The plan, which the council is expected to approve next Monday, emphasizes pedestrian versus vehicular traffic in downtown. It also calls for the building of townhouses and apartments to ease the county's housing crunch. The plan is intended to protect Rockville's historic homes and buildings and to make the downtown area "a more exciting and interesting place to live and work," according to a city official.
City Planning Chief James M. Davis said the council will also adopt amendments to the zoning ordinance and planning map so the town center plan can be set in motion.
Davis said the council, in reponse to citizens' comments during council work sessions, have made minor modifications in the plan.
In other business, the council unanimously approved a plan to prohibit commuters from parking on neighborhood streets.
Violators will be fined $25, a city attorney said. The plan is to be enacted within the next few months.