Tuesday, June 27, 2017

MoCo government's death wish Apex sidewalk closure has pedestrians running for their lives (Video + Photos)

Two men walk in the roadway
head-on toward oncoming traffic
on Wisconsin Avenue last evening
Eleven days after Carr Properties inexplicably closed the sidewalk and a southbound lane of Wisconsin Avenue in front of the Apex Building, Montgomery County officials have failed to take action. As they leisurely twiddle their thumbs, pedestrians are doing what we've learned they'll do over the last few years of sidewalk closures - entering the roadway. Last night, hundreds of pedestrians leaving work to head to the Bethesda Metro station walked head on into oncoming traffic in the 7200 block of Wisconsin Avenue, to get around the closure.
Commuters walking towards
Bethesda Metro station in
roadway at 7272 Wisconsin after
leaving work
Virtually no one was taking the laborious detour of crossing busy Wisconsin, walking up the east sidewalk, and then crossing back over to the Metro station side further north. There were several heart stopping moments, such as a man realizing the light had changed ahead, and that he was about to walk into speeding southbound traffic. Panicked, the man ran for his life, as you can see here.
Man walking in roadway
(center of GIF image)
toward southbound traffic
runs for his life, as he realizes
light further up is changing
Walking into the roadway is technically illegal, but as we saw on Fairmont Avenue three years ago(!!) and elsewhere, it is standard behavior when a developer fails to provide a pedestrian walkway alongside a project. So County officials knew this would happen, and that - especially considering we're talking about a major state highway and commuter route here - there's a good chance someone will be killed in the process. Yet they've failed to act at any point to avoid this situation.

The life-and-death pedestrian drama we're watching now represents a threefold failure of government, in a county where government increasingly cannot deliver the basic functions we pay taxes for. During its current term, the County Council has tackled teenage tanning beds, Styrofoam, backyard insecticides and "healthy vending machines." Meanwhile, outside their now-fortified headquarters at 100 Maryland Avenue, trash isn't being picked up, the 911 service failed, and pedestrian safety is an afterthought for developer-beholden politicians.

Failure 1: The Montgomery County Planning Board and County Council failed to require the sidewalks and roadway remain open in their Minor Master Plan Amendment on the Apex Building. In fact, they stipulated very little, as Capital Crescent Trail advocates were horrified to learn recently. This was a guiding document that the County had full control over. They were in a position to make any demands or requirements they felt necessary, as the potential developer could only redevelop this site with their approval. Only their reliance on developer campaign contributions can explain why they would not have thought through all of the potential problems, and addressed them in the agreement.

Failure 2: Montgomery County officials are claiming they have no idea what Carr Properties is up to, or why the Maryland State Highway Administration allowed Carr to shut down the sidewalk and southbound lane. Huh?! That is an astonishing admission. This is a public-private partnership project related to the Purple Line, and partner Montgomery County doesn't know what its other two partners are doing, or even what the schedule is? Embarrassing.

Failure 3: Once learning that a situation they should have known would happen has happened, County officials have failed to act, or have again been proven to be impotent, and unable to move their partners to do anything. I thought that we would see some action Monday, but as business hours ended last evening, nothing had been done. In fact, one citizen contacted 311 - as we're told to do to "get it done" - early Monday morning. By day's end? Nothing had been "done."

There is absolutely no reason for a lane to be closed on Wisconsin Avenue for six months, or the next three years. The Apex Building exterior structure isn't even being demolished at this time! That is an egregious misuse of public property and right-of-way, on one of the most congested roads in the D.C. region. And there is no reason for not having a covered walkway, as Washington Property Company provided down the road during their construction of the Solaire Bethesda apartments.

Two cities, Seattle and Raleigh, have been dealing with this using modified shipping containers with interior lighting. New York City doesn't allow the kind of sidewalk closures Montgomery County has, yet has more construction than Bethesda will ever have. The Council passed not one, but two, laws that would supposedly reduce or forbid such dangerous sidewalk closures. But it has failed to enforce either one of them.

Apologists for the Council will claim this is the state's fault, but the reality is, there are currently other sidewalk closures around downtown Bethesda on County roads, and the Council hasn't acted on a single one of them. And it's simply beyond belief that the County Council has never discussed these most basic logistical issues with their two partners. Are you kidding me? No trash, no 911, and now we hear that they don't discuss logistics on a billion dollar project, with taxpayer money on the line? Don't ever tell me again that we are getting "highly-qualified" councilmembers, for their outrageous $137,000-a-year salaries.

Is this hands-off policy again driven by their reliance on developers for campaign funds? Is the Council so inept and impotent that Pete Rahn and Carr Properties are just laughing at them behind their backs at this point? And perhaps if the County's Bethesda regional services center took the time they spend putting links into taxpayer-funded emails to boost traffic and revenue for a local small and slightly-failing magazine, and spent it instead on the sidewalk issue, we wouldn't have people running for their lives on Wisconsin Avenue.

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot, Dyer. Cut the crap with your anti-Council rants. Is this your campaign site? If it is, quit now. The cemeteries will always vote against you. Even dead people despise you.

Anonymous said...

Is this a news article or a campaign statement?

Andy Van Slyke said...

1. I love the 311 response: "not our problem" . County government working for us!

2. We need a response from the county and state TODAY on the timeline, why they failed here and what steps are they making to be on top of future sidewalk closures.

We need immediate relief on this sidewalk safety hazard- TODAY!

Anonymous said...

4:36 PM = #UnsignedDyer

Anonymous said...

It is most certainly not a campaign statement. Dyer is too hopeless to ever be considered a real candidate. Even he knows this hence why he comes up with crazy excuses about cemeteries voting for Reimer 80,000 times. It's a delusional rant. Don't even give him credit by thinking he could ever be a viable candidate.

Robert Dyer said...

4:10: This is a news site. The video and photos speak for themselves. Good to know you're against pedestrian safety. Sad!

Anonymous said...

#DramaQueen

Robert Dyer said...

4:17: It's the power of the press, holding our corrupt elected officials accountable.

Anonymous said...

That time we had no Bethesda residents on the Council...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update, I am glad to see this! Did you get a bit over dramatic on this issue, yes, but regardless, as a pedestrian this is great to know.

Anonymous said...

"why the Maryland State Highway Administration allowed Carr to shut down the sidewalk and southbound lane."

Isn't your beef with the state?
Who did you speak at the county about this? quotes? statements(on or off record)?
What did Carr have to say about it and their plans to improve the issue?

You're an opinion blogger. The entire article was about your outrage at the council.

Anonymous said...

The article is about pedestrian safety. Full stop.

Anonymous said...

"Full stop"

Sign your damned comments, Dyer you coward.

Anonymous said...

6:39am Ironically, Dyer is one of the people who signed his comments on this thread.

Now, who's the "coward"?

Anonymous said...

Survival of the fittest on this one. Anyone dumb enough to not take the 1-2 minute detour isn't long for this world anyway.

That being said I'd be happy to help move the fence and barriers so there is a space for pedestrians. I see no reason why that land was blocked off.

Anonymous said...

Does Dyer sign all of his comments? How do we know?

Anonymous said...

Dyer, did you ever consider that building a temporary sidewalk could have required the closure of an additional lane of traffic?

Anonymous said...

The STATE Highway Administration owns and maintains Wisconsin Ave. The STATE Highway Administration let the developers block off a lane. The County Executive's Dept of Permitting Services approved the pedestrian plan. This literally has nothing to do with the County Council.

And why does Dyer never ever place any blame on Gov. Hogan? Oh yeah, because he's Republican.

OneGlobe Armstrong said...

Look at that cyclist going against the flow of traffic. Dyer can we get a war on cyclists around here?

Tired of these lycra clad assholes clipping me and ringing their stupid bells. stick to Cap Cres Trail or drive off a bridge.

Terp Grad said...

6:54 AM Dyer is very active responding under his name. I don't see why he'd also post anonymously- what would be the point? And, you have no proof otherwise

6:58 AM So, the interns producing drivel at other local blogs are official journalists, but Dyer is not? That's your opinion. There's no professional certification or badge to be a "journalist".

You sound like what people said about Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, etc.

This a major pedestrian route in the heart of our downtown and an entire side was blocked, with no warning. And you're mad at Robert Dyer!?

I stand with Dyer and Daniel Warwick on this issue!

Smelling Something Fishy said...

Why in your "pedestrians running for his life" gif, there is a guy leisurely walking at the end of the GIF? Was only one person fearing for their life and someone else wasn't? Or were neither fearing for their lives and that guy was just running late?

Anonymous said...

7:08 AM is studying this like the zapruder film frames.

I love the passion of Robert Dyer readers!

Anonymous said...

Good catch, SSF. Also note that the "commuter" who is running "for his life" just happens to be wearing running shorts.

Anonymous said...

At least two of the four people in the first GIF are playing with their phones the entire time they are walking against traffic.

Also, all four of them are wearing shorts, so I doubt that they are "commuters".

What time did you take these photos, Dyer?

G. Money said...

I'm pretty sure the guy who was "running for his life" was actually jogging. Which can still be interpreted as "running for his life," in the sense that exercise improves one's life. But I don't think that's what Dyer meant.

Anonymous said...

"This article is all about pedestrian safety. Full stop."

Um, no.

"And perhaps if the County's Bethesda regional services center took the time they spend putting links into taxpayer-funded emails to boost traffic and revenue for a local small and slightly-failing magazine, and spent it instead on the sidewalk issue, we wouldn't have people running for their lives on Wisconsin Avenue."

Maloney Concrete said...

7:36 AM This is the worst sidewalk/pedestrian safety disaster in years. You're ok with that?

Anonymous said...

#UnsignedDyer @ 7:41 - What does any of the argle-bargle that 7:36 quoted have to do with "pedestrian safety"?

JB said...

7:08am
"So, the interns producing drivel at other local blogs"

I'm not 6:58am, but I'll respond. I assume you work with/for Robert Dyer.

If you are referring to Bethesda Magazine/Bethesda Beat, I would hardly refer to their work as "drivel." Bethesda Magazine is an actual revenue-generating journalistic publication with a staff and editors. I've found their articles to be informative, comprehensive, reasonably-edited, and timely. They're credibility is without question, and they have been quoted numerous times in many reputable outlets including The Washington Post, The Washington Business Journal, and even The New York Times.

I find this blog (as well as the other two covering Rockville and Eastern Montgomery) useful as well, as it delves into a more "closer to home" stories that are not covered in Bethesda Magazine or anywhere else. For that, it's indispensable.

The real downfall of this blog is the unhealthy obsession that Dyer has with certain groups and individuals, including specific members of the County Council, the aforementioned publication, and others. With increasing frequency, Robert Dyer uses this blog as a platform to constantly hurl insults and make up disgusting lies about these groups, with legitimate readers frequently getting caught in the crossfire (see: any comment page).

As much as I try to ignore the juvenile nonsense, I still find it incredibly grating. Beyond that, much of Dyer's reporting is based on doubtful anecdotes and hearsay. I have very rarely (if ever) seen Dyer quote anyone by name or reference a valid (as in not an op-ed) source to support many of his dubious claims.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

Look at the first photo and you'll see the two men in the second GIF. The guy in the blue shirt, whom Dyer claims is "running for his life after the trafffic light changed" is about 50 feet behind the man in the red shirt, and clearly in a running stance.

These pictures appear to have been taken very early in the morning. Only two cars are visible in any of the images.

Anonymous said...

It also explains why he uses these awful filters to try and brighten every photo.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin isn't a county road you dope. Take it up with the state. Rant about Hogan if you want. If you're going to be an unhelpful dolt about this, at least rant about the right level of government for god's sake.

Anonymous said...

Dyer is trying save lives, and he gets criticized. Unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

If Dyer was actually "trying to save lives", he would have made citizen's arrests on all those jaywalkers.

Anonymous said...

Is Dyer trying to save lives? He could have literally put up a piece of paper sign telling pedestrians to cross down by Bethesda Avenue and filed a complaint. Instead, he chose to film some random pedestrians for a minute, then run before someone noticed he was illegally parked due to refusal to pay for parking.

Anonymous said...

The cyclist in the fifth image is not only riding against traffic, but he is wearing headphones and holding a smartphone or tablet with one hand and reading it while he rides.

Anonymous said...

8:29 AM The County has pull to make things happen...why aren't they dealing with this issue?
It's been closed off for well over a week.

Dyer's a journalist- he's doing his job reporting on this pedestrian safety crisis.

Anonymous said...

"Dyer's a journalist"

What fucking universe are you from?

Anonymous said...

7:57 - My best guess is that these images were taken after 8 in the evening. The sun that you see on the windows of the Apex Building is actually a reflection from the windows of the Air Rights Building. You can see direct sunlight in the northwestern sky over Elm Street.

Anonymous said...

"What fucking universe are you from?"

The Universe in Mom's Basement.

Robert Dyer said...

7:05: If you read the entire article, you will understand why this is the Council's fault. It clearly outlines that under the "Failure 1, Failure 2...." section.

Anonymous said...

Great work Dyer, the State/County need to require access for all, are these the items you were talking about?
https://www.raleighnc.gov/home/news/content/CorNews/Articles/SRSTheSidewalkDoesntEnd.html
https://seattletacomashippingcontainers.com/container-modifications/shipping-container-tunnels/

How about the elderly and disabled? This is not just a minor inconvenience for them to just cross the street when it is difficult enough getting around. Keep up the good work!

Robert Dyer said...

7:50: The small and slightly-failing magazine is a house organ for the Montgomery County political cartel. That's not journalism. They also regularly plagiarize my content without attribution. No professional journalist would dare to do that.

Now, tell me specifically which points in the above article are "lies?"

Anonymous said...

By mentioning "commuters", Dyer implies that the images were taken Monday. However the lack of traffic and the extreme nonchalance of the pedestrians and cyclists suggests that the images were actually taken on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Interesting report- I thought the Council promised stuff like this would never happen again?
Sidewalk issues are worse than ever!

Anonymous said...

Since you asked for lies, I see quite the deep dive on your GIFs, care to explain?

Anonymous said...

The runner is Alex. He usually runs daily, not always on Wisconsin. He's used to dodging construction obstacles. He's on his run, not fleeing for his life.

Anonymous said...

You didn't answer my questions. Why not?

"why the Maryland State Highway Administration allowed Carr to shut down the sidewalk and southbound lane."

Isn't your beef with the state?
Who did you speak at the county about this? quotes? statements(on or off record)?
What did Carr have to say about it and their plans to improve the issue?

Anonymous said...

9:15AM Stop playing the victim card.

Anonymous said...

@10:22 AM, do you know what time he normally runs? Love to know when these photos were all taken.

Anonymous said...

I know Wisconsin is a state road, but isn't BUP or the County responsible for maintaining the sidewalks? I've never seen people in MD SHA trucks emptying the trashcans there for example.

Also in the tweet Robert posted from MC311, then number they ask the person to call is 240-777-xxxx which is a County number.

Anonymous said...

Dyer is the Michael Moore of Bethesda News. Can anyone think of a better comparison?

Anonymous said...

His rants aside, Dyer is right on this one. Wisconsin Ave is a major road for both vehicles and pedestrians. How are they able to get away with blocking it for pedestrians? Why not just put in a covered walkway? The technology exists -- they do it in NYC all the time.

Anonymous said...

What sort of poor person in Bethesda walks to work? I usually just drive my Tesla to work.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin Avenue is not "blocked for pedestrians".

Anonymous said...

"Why not just put in a covered walkway? The technology exists -- they do it in NYC all the time."

The problem is that to do that, even more of the roadway would need to be closed. The reason that the roadway is needed is because not just the visible part of the building needs to be demolished, but the entire structure built over the railroad tunnel - this extends all the way to the curb.

Anonymous said...

10:38 is on to something. The 311 Twitter referred the pedestrian to MoCo's "Sidewalk Division".

Wonder if they know one of most used sidewalks in the county was blocked without warning?

Anonymous said...

10:33AM - I've seen him weekday afternoons/evenings after 3:30.

Anonymous said...

Dyer clearly says that the photos were from yesterday.
Looks dangerous!

Robert Dyer said...

6:58: A covered pedestrian walkway would not require closing any lane of Wisconsin - in cities from Rockville to Baltimore to New York, the covered walkway is on the existing sidewalk.

Robert Dyer said...

9:18: You're lying again. All photos, videos were taken last evening (Monday).

Anonymous said...

You're lying again saying a man who runs all the time was running out of fear head long into traffic.

Anonymous said...

You're lying, claiming you know the man running.

That's beside the point: are you ok with this sidewalk closure?

Anonymous said...

You're lying, claiming there are no signs directing pedestrians to cross Wisconsin.

Which I am 100% ok with walking across the street. You can enter the metro on that side of the street anyways and enjoy some art in the tunnel.

Anonymous said...

No one is forcing anyone to walk in the street. Just cross Wisconsin in the crosswalk, with the "WALK" sign, then repeat at the other end. Sure, it's an inconvenience - another 100-200 feet in distance, plus a couple of minutes for the additional "walk" signals.

The only "danger" here is to those who ignore the posted warnings to cross to the other side of Wisconsin.

And it's possble to walk along Woodmont instead of Wisconsin, and avoid that block entirely.

Tim said...

Saw lots of people in the street today.
We're going to go on years like this?

Anonymous said...

I drove by this today. They not only blocked the sidewalk, but also the curb lane of Wisconsin Avenue so it's down to 2 lanes at all times. So why can't they just put a pedestrian passage in the curb lane, since it's blocked anyway?

Ready to take bets on how often that blocked curb lane will be used for parking for construction worker's vehicles, just like the did on Old Georgetown (near Tyber Bierhaus) and Hampden (near the MoCo liquor store)?

Anonymous said...

The council passes window-dressing sidewalk laws but fails to require pedestrian accommodations when approving planning documents. Anyone know why the county doesn't charge fees for builders to use public rights of way during construction? Fees that escalate as closures drag on would get the builders off sidewalks and curb lanes faster.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else think it's weird that county employees found out about this sidewalk and lane closure from Robert Dyer, the unofficial mayor of Bethesda?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else thinks Robert Dyer sounds kinda loony when he anonymously refers to himself as "the unofficial mayor of Bethesda"?

Anonymous said...

7:51PM here- I'm not Dyer.
You see Dyer everywhere.

Last thing before falling asleep tonight, you'll be thinking about Robert Dyer. Let that sink in.

Anonymous said...

You're a joke, Dyer. First thing I did when I woke up was think how pitiful he is.

Anonymous said...

The "unofficial mayor of Bethesda" would be Rick Ammirato, not some dude blogging from a basement in Westbard.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dyer, did you ever contact Carr to ask them why they needed to take a whole lane of the roadway, and don't have room for a temporary sidewalk?

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, "you can find out a lot just by asking."

Robert Dyer said...

12:40: More frightening question - when will Carr's partner Montgomery County contact them and get up to speed on the basic logistics of this major project? It's sounding like another Silver Spring Transit Center in the making with such lack of involvement by the County. And this is even more complicated than the SSTC!

"It's like deja vu all over again." = Yogi Berra

Anonymous said...

Dyer, so you're just waiting for the County to report that Carr contacted them, rather than contacting Carr yourself?

#LaziestJournalistEver