10 years late to the party

Feb. 2 update: The Gazette article Residents fear extending Capital Crescent Trail would derail Silver Spring neighborhood” goes to more specifics about the trail opposition. From the article:

“There are some people who don’t agree with longstanding position that has been the subject of numerous votes and they are acting like this is a recent issue,” [Woodside Civic Association president] Smedley said.

Simons, however, said the plan has never been properly conveyed to the neighborhood. Simons lives about a block away from where the trail would run on Third Avenue. Simons said she first heard about the trail’s planned path last September.

“We feel duped because this was not communicated to us,” Simons said.

This is so frustrating. This has been one of the most widely advertised planning efforts we have ever seen.

January 30, 2011 post:

The local discussion over Capital Crescent Trail plans in Woodside continues. Comments left on the Woodside Civic Association listserve indicate that a few residents intend to challenge the proposed trail alignment along the CSX corridor and may propose alternative alignments.

Looking for another trail route is nothing new. Hardly anyone would choose a trail alignment alongside an active rail corridor if a good route could be found in a park or along a quiet road. I participated with a Citizens Advisory Committee along with a team of M-NCPPC Community Planners as we searched for alternative routes during the development of the North and West Silver Spring Master Plan in 1999-2000. In the end we concluded the alignment along the CSX corridor was the only route that could provide a good off-road trail into downtown Silver Spring. Routes down Second Avenue, First Avenue, and on the other side of the CSX tracks were investigated but failed, mainly because no safe alternatives for a trail crossing of 16th Street and for entering the Silver Spring CBD to the transit center existed other than along the CSX alignment.

A year later, another team of M-NCPPC Community Planners, professional trail consultants, and a citizens advisory committee of neighborhood residents and trail supporters from CCCT and WABA reached the same conclusion when developing the Facility Plan for the Capital Crescent & Metropolitan Branch Trails.

CCT Facility Plan map

Capital Crescent & Metropolitan Branch Trail alignment
Source: Facility Plan for the Capital Crescent & Metropolitan Branch Trails
M-NCPPC Approved January 2001

People certainly have a right to oppose the proposed alignment of the Capital Crescent Trail in Woodside if they believe it is not in their interests. But some of the comments I hear are inaccurate and/or unfair.
1) It is unfair to assert this alignment has been presented recently with little study and with little opportunity for residents to speak out. The proposed alignment has been studied extensively and discussed openly in well publicized public hearings and workshops for many years – including during the development of all five of the approved planning documents listed below.
2) It is inaccurate to describe this alignment as a plan coming from MTA and for the Purple Line. This alignment was developed by community planners, residents and trail advocates from within Montgomery County, as the best alignment for an off-road trail regardless of the Purple Line. Montgomery County has always had responsibility and control regarding the trail plans. MTA has promised to execute this trail plan as part of the Purple Line project at the request of Montgomery County.
3) It is inaccurate to describe the Georgetown Branch bike route down Second Avenue as an acceptible alternative for the Capital Crescent Trail. Second Avenue will not support an off-road trail (or even bike lanes). The Capital Crescent Trail has always been planned to be a good quality off-road trail.

It is not possible for Woodside to opt out of the approved CCT alignment without forcing neighbors both north and south (in North Woodside and the Silver Spring CBD) and all trail users to lose the safe CCT off-road alignment. The trail cannot jog over to Second Avenue only at Woodside. If the trail does not follow the CSX alignment at Woodside then the trail would be on narrow streets in North Woodside, would cross 16th Street at a dangerous at-grade intersection, and would enter the downtown Silver Spring district on busy Second Avenue at the Silver Spring Post Office. My video A trail through Woodside shows these problem areas.

For those just now becoming aware that a trail is planned along the CSX corridor, I recommend they look at some of the planning that has been done over the last 10 years:

Purple Line Functional Master Plan
Approved by the Montgomery County Council July 27, 2010 and adopted by M-NCPPC September 8, 2010.

Countywide Bikeways Functional Master Plan
Approved by the Montgomery County Council February 1, 2005 and adopted by M-NCPPC March 16, 2005.

Facility Plan for the Capital Crescent & Metropolitan Branch Trails Summary
(See CCCT Archives for links to the entire document)
Approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board January 2001.

North and West Silver Spring Master Plan
Approved by the Montgomery County Council August 1, 2000 and adopted by M-NCPPC September 20, 2000

Silver Spring CBD Sector Plan
Approved by the Montgomery County Council February 2000 and adopted by M-NCPPC March 2000.

Update – I should change the title of this post to “24 years late to the party”. See Glenn Orlin’s comment to this post about much earlier plans, including this one:

Georgetown Branch Master Plan Amendment
Approved by the Montgomery County Council November 1989 and adopted by M-NCPPC January 1990.

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7 Responses to “10 years late to the party”

  1. Glenn Orlin says:

    The planning of the trail’s location goes back even further. The trail is shown to the outside of the light rail tracks (both on the northeast side of the Metropolitan Branch at the edge of Woodside) in MTA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Georgetown Branch Transitway/Trail Study (May 1996). The same is shown in the Georgetown Branch Master Plan Amendment approved by the Council in November 1989 and adopted by the bi-county M-NCPPC in January 1990. The Georgetown Branch Master Plan amendment was begun to be developed after the conclusion of the Georgetown Branch Corridor Study, which began in early 1987. That study had three advisory committees: a citizens advisory committee with representation from Woodside, a technical advisory committee, and a steering committee.

    Therefore, the planning and public input about the location of the trail in Woodside has occured for the last 24 years, and counting. At each step there was considerable public input: not just public hearings but many community meetings as well.

  2. Woodsider says:

    It truly is astonishing (and a little depressing) how long it takes to get anything done in this county. I’m all for community input, and a lot of it, but eventually decisions need to be made for the greater good of the community. The truth is that the very vocal and very much minority opposition gets a grossly disproportionate amount of attention. When 10 people show up to protest/object to anything, I can only assume the “wise” members of the planning board, MTA, and County Council know that those ten objectors means that there are 1,000 who either support a project or don’t care by virtue of their absence.

  3. Good discussion of the history of this issue, Wayne — thank you!

  4. Another Woodsider says:

    Wayne, for the trail to be successful it needs to be where people are. I don’t care how many years special interest individuals have been planning their ideal trail. I have lived here more than 10 or 24 years and there is a large number of people who don’t think the proposed location is a good plan.

  5. Trails don't have traffic lights says:

    Thank you for the clear and extensive history of the trail’s design. I appreciate your past efforts in designing a trail that is accessible and safe for all users (walkers, cyclists, rollerbladers)

  6. SJE says:

    “for the trail to be successful it needs to be where people are”

    As a resident of Rosemary Hills (the other side of the track from Woodside) I really do not understand this statement.
    1. A road/trail is build to connect people between origin and destination. For example, trail that goes from Silver Spring to Bethesda
    2. I agree that a route should serve as many intermediate points. The present CCT and CSX alignment already does that.
    3. At the same time, you are limited in where you can build in an already developed area. For that reason, the CCT/CSX alignment also works
    4. Last I looked there are a lot of people between SS and Bethesda. The current trail does go through less developed areas, but does serve hubs along the way. East West Highway could do the same, but I doubt that current planners would accept loosing 2-3 lanes to build a light rail and bike path. See point 3.

  7. admin says:

    @ Another Woodsider:

    “for the trail to be successful it needs to be where people are”

    Agreed. Check out the COG Ideal Bike Sharing Locations Map at Bike share in MoCo?
    The proposed CCT alignment is where the people are. What route do you propose??

    Wayne Phyillaier