Driving You Crazy

Dear Readers,

“Wow, this is going to be a huge impact. This will drive people crazy.” said Takoma Park councilmember Colleen Clay.

Mayor Bruce Williams was apparently already driven crazy. He was squinting like a vengeful Clint Eastwood at the groveling band of sorry-excuse mongers standing before the council podium.

The band, otherwise known as the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), was at the March 3 city council meeting to present that public agency’s plan to replace and relocate old water and sewer pipelines on Sligo Creek Parkway this summer. The parkway, a well-used commuter route, will be torn up and closed to traffic.

The mayor and council took WSSC’s assurances that the job would take 90 days (6 months at the very most, they said later), with enough grains of salt to start a pretzel factory.

* * * * * *
The mayor was particularly salt-engrained, describing through gritted teeth how a similar project in his own neighborhood had failed to live up to the same sort of criteria and schedule that WSSC promised for the Sligo Creek Parkway job.

For instance, residents were not warned of upcoming water outages, contrary to WSSC pledges to do so, said the Mayor. He ticked off several more annoyances, including the fact that the temporary road patches now covering the work (until permanent ones could be made in warmer months) were inadequate.

The WSSC representatives hastened to regruntle the disgruntled mayor. The head contractor for the Sligo Creek Parkway job rose to assure the mayor that he would be taking a “personal interest” in making sure the job was done on time and to the community’s satisfaction.

The community will need a lot of satisfying. Most of the wards will be affected by the project. The city representatives expressed worries not only about WSSC keeping to its promised schedule, they were afraid the parkway closure would send heavy commuter traffic onto small neighborhood streets. They were also concerned about the potential loss of trees in the park.

WSSC swore on a stack of water utility bills they were not planning on taking any trees down, and that they would hold to the stated schedule.
Pass the salt.

At the same meeting the council heard from Takoma Park Police Chief Ronald A. Ricucci and two representatives from ACS State and Local Solutions, the contracting firm that wants to sell its speed camera service to the city.
The city already asked the police to do a speed study to see if the cameras would be worth the expense and effort. The police came back in the fall and said “no,” but the council asked them to review the data again.

A new study was done, this time by the contractor, that would be the contractor that wanted to sell cameras to the city, and, gosh, whaddyaknow? They came back with data showing that cameras WOULD be worthwhile!

Only councilmember Dan Robinson spoke up to remind the council that when it had reviewed the police speeding study, they had talked about using physical traffic calming measures rather than cameras to slow drivers down. He was promptly squelched by the mayor.

The contractors identified 4 possible spots: the 7400 block of New Hampshire Ave., the 1000 block of University Ave., Takoma Ave. near Buffalo Ave., and the 500 block of Ethan Allen Ave.

The council decided that the city should try putting cameras, or one mobile camera, at two of those locations.

The income from the speeding tickets (for going at least 10 miles above the speed limit) would be split between the city and the contractor, the city getting 40%.

For background on this, check out the April 17, 2007 granolapark post “City in the Van Guard”


About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

2 Comments on "Driving You Crazy"

  1. Alain Thery | March 6, 2008 at 9:11 pm |

    Regarding the trust that we can have in WSSC schedule and keeping it, I have the perfect example. Last year at around this time, residents of Erie Avenues received a letter from WSSC informing them that the street was going to be torn out during summer months after June 2007 for about 2 months to replace aging pipes. A year later, no work has been done or even started and we have received no updates as to the status of the project. The City Council is right to be skeptical about the WSSC promises!

  2. Tom Gagliardo | March 6, 2008 at 9:15 pm |

    No wonder they want to replace the water pipes. Must be something in them that causes the M&C to think about speed cameras like they do.

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