The illegal closure of Leland Street to traffic from Woodmont Avenue has been reopened by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, which did not go through the required public process to block access to the street. After mass public outcry, the County Council was caught with their pants down on this, and quickly sought to distance themselves from the decision on social media.
In reality, Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner are on the record favoring such street closures up until this point. Riemer and Berliner wholeheartedly voted for a full closure of the end of Westbard Avenue at River Road in the Westbard sector plan - an even more restrictive closure than the Leland blockade. Neither expressed the views they are claiming to have now, in the face of a public firestorm, and both are on the record as solidly anti-car and anti-highway.
Another strange bedfellow to enter the scene was Greater Greater Washington, one of the leading organizations waging a War on Cars in the D.C. Metro area. Closely allied with Riemer and Berliner and supported by development interests, GGW is a regular agitator for creating more difficult driving conditions to discourage automobile use. Now they are opposed to a street closure? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, folks.
|Scars left behind by the bollards|
Berliner and Riemer's fellow carpetbagger David Alpert wrote in GGW that, "at some times in the past and in some places, the streets are/were much less busy." In reality, Leland Street used to be far busier than it is today. It used to be a major shortcut to reach downtown Bethesda from Little Falls Parkway. That ability to turn left onto Woodmont no longer exists today.
Alpert went on to add: "Forbidding driving one (sic) one connecting road to satisfy some residents while making traffic worse for everyone else is not the best approach, here or anywhere else in the region."
Can I quote him on that? I just did. I'm looking forward to this new David Alpert supporting making driving in Montgomery County a faster and more convenient experience in the future.
Yet Montgomery County closes or restricts access to countless streets on a regular basis (they just usually go through the legal public process, unlike this case). If Berliner and Riemer are being honest and have had a conversion on street closures, does this mean we can expect all of the closed roads that add to the congestion on main arteries countywide to reopen soon? If not, we'll know this was just a publicity stunt by two politicians running for office next year.