Sidewalk through tunnel is likely

WABA Board Member Jim Titus reports in a post at WashCycle that MTA has announced they are finding it possible and cost effective to build a 5 foot wide sidewalk through the Bethesda Tunnel alongside the Purple Line.

This is welcome news. This sidewalk could provide an alternative to crossing Wisconsin Avenue at-grade for pedestrians using the CCT. It also will provide easy access to the Purple Line platform and the new South Metro Station Entrance for many transit users. The sidewalk will be too narrow and too heavily used by pedestrians for safe use by cyclists.

Jim Titus reports that MTA expects the county to bear the cost of this sidewalk, as part of the county’s agreement to pay for the CCT. But the county is already commited to spending several million dollars to build a full width trail separated from motor vehicle lanes, down Bethesda Avenue and Willow Lane as an alternative CCT route to the Bethesda Tunnel.

It is unfair for MTA to consider this proposed 5 foot sidewalk as only a part of the trail, and not as an integral part of the Bethesda Purple Line station. There will be more people using the Purple Line platform every day than now use the trail in an entire week. We can expect the majority of users of this proposed 5 foot sidewalk to be transit users accessing the Purple Line platform and the new South Bethesda Metro Entrance from the many residences, schools and businesses on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue. Providing access to the Purple Line platform should be a responsibility of MTA, and MTA should not be demanding that scarce trail funds be used for this purpose.

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