|Pedestrians walking into oncoming|
traffic during rush hour on
Wisconsin Avenue in June
County officials were caught with their pants down when those same closures prematurely took place in mid-June, then impotent to get the busy commuter and pedestrian corridor reopened. It then was revealed that, despite being a partner in the Apex redevelopment, County officials did not know what the developer was doing, or even the project's timeline. Humiliating.
After video and photos of pedestrians walking into oncoming traffic went viral, the barricades were removed. Now they are coming back, with large amounts of public right-of-way being privatized with no due process or public comment. Wisconsin Avenue is one of the two busiest commuter corridors in the county, and the loss of a full lane will have major traffic impacts. To allow such hardship to be inflicted on residents for such a length of time is outrageous. Such a closure is unprecedented in the history of the county, and sets a dangerous precedent going forward.
County officials are also allowing this knowing full well that pedestrians will not bother to cross the street, and will instead just walk into the roadway, as they have done every time developers have been allowed to close sidewalks without providing a covered walkway. In other cities like New York, developers are required to maintain sidewalk access, and do. In Montgomery County, in contrast, the County Council is beholden to developers, and has allowed them to violate what proven to be fake laws against sidewalk closures.
With such a long closure, the odds are high that a pedestrian will be injured or killed during this unprecedented and dangerous closure. That will be on the Council and officials who allowed this to go forward, and they will be held accountable. As for the claim that "the sidewalk is part of the building," that is not true. As a lifelong resident, I walked along that block of Wisconsin Avenue before there was an Apex Building, on a sidewalk, Wisconsin Avenue is a bridge there, and it had a sidewalk, from which I looked down at trains emerging from the Georgetown Branch tunnel.