Keeping the Silver Spring Circle on track
February 10, 2020
Last month I learned that the County Executive has proposed to delay the Fenton St. Cycletrack bikeway, which is a key part of the Silver Spring Circle.
In response, Councilmember Glass and I wrote the following letter to the County Executive urging him to advance this critical project with all due haste. I will fight hard through the Council’s budget process to get this project back on track.
Dear County Executive Elrich:
Like you, we are committed to Vision Zero and achieving zero deaths on our roadways by 2030. We were pleased to see the County’s Vision Zero efforts—in particular the Silver Spring Circle (a network of protected bicycle lanes and intersections)—play such a prominent role in your State of the County Address. We agree that pedestrian and bicyclist safety must be a much higher priority.
That is why we are disappointed that, after years of studies and delays, your recommended FY21-26 CIP would delay the start of construction of the Fenton Street Cycletrack project by another 2 years. Then we learned at the Fenton Village Bicycle & Pedestrian Projects community meeting last month that the reason for the delay was to restart a feasibility study and that “no determination will be made whether to advance this project until the study has been completed and its merits evaluated.” We find the two-year delay and the lack of commitment to advance the project unacceptable.
The Fenton Street Cycletrack is probably the most important element of the Silver Spring Circle as it forms the spine of the network, connecting to many other bikeways and major activity centers in downtown Silver Spring. It was originally programmed to be built in FY18 and FY19 but was delayed due to more fully analyze the traffic and parking effects of various alignments. While these delays were regrettable, in 2019 Council recognized the importance of this project by making it a separate project—it was previously funded out of the more general purpose Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area PDF—in 2019 with construction starting in FY21 and substantially completing in FY22. Your recommended CIP, however, would delay it by two years beyond the approved budget.
The proposed delays would also make it unlikely for the County to coordinate construction with Pepco, who has a major underground transmission line project in the corridor. This could result in Fenton Street being unnecessarily torn up not long after it is torn up by Pepco’s project.
While we don’t minimize the tradeoffs involved with the various alignments, this project has a lot of support in the community. It has the support of the T&E Committee and the entire County Council. It has been studied extensively. It’s time to move this project into design and get it constructed by FY22, as the Council approved last year.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.
Hans Riemer and Evan Glass