Tuesday, January 5, 2010

County Opens Final Segment Of Pedestrian Linkages Project In South Silver Spring

The South Silver Spring Pedestrian Linkages Project -- a key County project designed to enhance pedestrian safety, business development and overall livability in an emerging South Silver Spring community -- was completed today when officials opened Bottleworks Lane, a one-way street connecting East-West Highway and Kennett Street. The roadway runs beside Gramax Towers, the 15-story former office building that stood vacant for 15 years before being converted to 182 housing units.

Cutting a “ribbon” of plastic Canada Dry bottles, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett was joined by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), 8th District Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), County Council President Nancy Floreen, Council Vice President Valerie Ervin (Dist. 5), the County’s Department of Housing and Community Development Director Richard Y. Nelson Jr., County Transportation Deputy Director Al Roshdieh and John Marcolin, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Community Planner for the area. Also participating were Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the Silver Spring Regional Services Center who emceed the event, and from the Community Planning and Development Division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were Senior CPD Representative Tasleem Albaari, Frances Bush and Lorraine Richardson.

Developed by the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) over a 10-year period, the project consists of eight segments of convenient, safe and attractive pedestrian walkways links through South Silver Spring. The objective of the project was to overcome the inconvenience and isolation created by the unusually large block pattern in the area.

“These pedestrian links are crucial to the character of South Silver Spring on many fronts,” Leggett said. “They improve connections between businesses, parking facilities, Montgomery College and recent commercial redevelopment and have already supported a significant increase in housing construction -- approximately 2,000 existing units nearby. And, there are more in the pipeline.”

“I am so pleased that Silver Spring has taken advantage of this opportunity for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner. By making it easier and safer for people to get around South Silver Spring without their cars, the Pedestrian Linkages Project, including Bottleworks Lane, will help reduce carbon emissions, save people money and improve the public’s health and well being,” said Senator Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This project is a positive example of how federal investments through Community Development Block Grants can best be put to use to revitalize an entire neighborhood.”

Montgomery County has been a leader in ensuring communities are safe and accessible, and this pedestrian linkages project is an integral piece of this effort,” said Congressman Van Hollen (D-MD). “I want to commend the efforts and vision of the state, the county, and the community, and I am pleased we were able to secure federal funding to help complete this award-winning venture.”

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission reviewed the recommendations and required subsequent private development to include the recommended pedestrian linkages in their development plan.

“With Bottleworks Lane, we’ve hit the trifecta,” said Floreen. “This project improves pedestrian safety, promotes business and helps to make Silver Spring a generally great place to live. That’s something to celebrate.”

The name Bottleworks Lane was selected for the final segment in recognition of the formal industrial history of the area and specifically, the Canada Dry Factory which was located near this link.

Bottleworks Lane includes pedestrian lighting, parking meters (administered by the Parking Authority) and a bifiltration structure that collects runoff before it enters the storm water management system.

“The construction of Bottleworks Lane is a symbol of the commitment that the County has made to ensure that our neighborhoods are accessible and walkable for all of our residents,” said Ervin, who serves as the Council’s representative on the County’s Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee and represents Silver Spring. “This connection will more easily enable residents in South Silver Spring to access downtown amenities and will help local small businesses in South Silver Spring attract new customers.

“The name Bottleworks Lane is extremely appropriate as we create this linkage near the Canada Dry Building, one of Silver Spring’s historic landmarks and an icon of the industrial building boom.”

Five of the segments were constructed through private redevelopment projects, and the remaining three were constructed by the public sector and funded by Community Development Black Grants. The project represents an investment of more than five million dollars from Federal Community Development Block Grant funds in South Silver Spring. The $1.5 million cost of the final segment included land acquisition, demolition and construction. The County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) built the roadway.

In 2006, Montgomery County received an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties for the Silver Spring Pedestrian Linkages Project.

More information about the project is available on the DHCA website at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/DHCA/index.asp, click on Community Programs.