No Left, No Right!

Dear Readers,
The hot issue of traffic restrictions came up again before the city council. Several residents bellied up the podium to speak for or against the plan before the council – and another alternative plan offered by residents
One plan called for no right hand turn onto Ritchie Ave. The other called for no left hand turn onto Maple.
The good citizens of Ritchie Avenue see much commuter traffic in their future. The county is about to restrict commuter rush-hour traffic from entering streets in a neighborhood just outside the city border. Drivers on busy Sligo Creek Parkway cut through those streets, it is alleged. So, Ritchie Avenue residents requested the city put up a no right-hand turn sign onto their street (from Maple Avenue) to keep that traffic out in the morning, and a no-left hand turn onto Maple Ave. to keep it out in the evening.
As loyal readers will recall, this touched off a roaring debate louder than the one over the city budget. The heck with layoffs and service cutbacks, this is restricting the right to drive!

A lot of folks felt restricting Ritche traffic unfairly punished neighbors who use that route for local traffic, dropping off students at Takoma Park Middle School for example.
In response, those folks came up with an alternative, allow no left turn from Sligo Creek Parkway onto Maple, closing it off to morning rush hour traffic.
City residents further to the east were alarmed by this proposal. They in turn felt that this would unfairly punish them, making if difficult to drop off students at the elementary school on Maple Ave., or to access the city community center.
It was also feared this would increase traffic on residential Lincoln Avenue, which runs parallel to Sligo Creek Parkway.
The city council, after hearing several citizen comments on the issue, considered both proposals. Each councilmember stuck up for his or her constituents – reflecting their fears about how the proposals would either block their accustomed routes or push commuter traffic onto their streets.
They all agreed that the county had done a poor job of dealing with the issue. They saw flaws in the county traffic study which they felt was too narrowly focused. They also felt the city’s concerns were not taken into consideration. As Councilmember Colleen Clay said, “I’m tired of being ignored and dismissed by the county!”
They were generally lukewarm to restricting traffic from turning onto Maple from Sligo Creek Parkway. They feared that would spread the traffic problem to other wards and inconvenience their constituents. So, they turned down the alternative plan.
Still, they felt something must be done for Ritchie Avenue residents, so they approved the request to restrict traffic entering that street. They weren’t all happy to do so, however. Some would have preferred to wait and see what the effect was of the county streets closures. They also said that they wanted the restrictions lifted once the city has installed traffic calming measures on Ritchie: speed bumps, speed tables, and curb bump-outs. There were misgivings about that, however, as Councilmember Dan Robinson noted, getting traffic restrictions removed once they are enacted can take years.
Missing Fire Truck
By the time you read this, Dear Readers, the city’s ladder truck may be in Lithuania, or on its way into orbit to rendezvous with the space station.
Why not? It’s been everywhere else. The mayor and council have all had to lie down with a cool damp washcloth over their faces because every day, it seems, they get a different story about where ladder truck #2 is going to end up.
We want it RIGHT HERE, of course. And the city has marched to war against the county many times to keep it here. After they promised us we could keep the truck, the county offered the city a new fire station, and while it was being built, gave our ladder truck a temporary home in Silver Spring. FROM WHICH IT MAY NEVER RETURN!!!
Cue Vincent Price rising up through the floor of the new, empty station house, playing the keys of a pipe organ. “Looking for something, My Dears?” he asks. “A FIRE TRUCK perhaps? Well, Muhwahahaha, it’s GONE!”
Oh, that’s not Vincent Price, it’s Richard Bowers, the county fire chief! He’s the fellow who, faced with budget restrictions, is shuffling trucks and personnel around.
According to Mayor Williams, each ladder truck requires a large number of staff, which is expensive for the county. So, ladder truck #2 will be moved out Beyond the Beltway to Station 16 near Blair High School.
The next nearest ladder trucks to Takoma Park will be that one and another at Station 19, near the intersection of Colesville and Seminary Roads. The response time will be considerably longer than the response time from our local station 1
The mayor cautioned that this could change, as it has a couple of times in the last few months and weeks. The county knows the city wants its truck (and personnel to run it) kept here, but the county also would like to disperse the truck and staff to other places to save a few bucks.
We’ll keep you posted, Dear Readers, as this story develops.
Big Bus Blues
“This is why I’m critical of the Rec. Department” said Terry Seamens.
He was referring to the bus situation. Years ago, the council decided to buy a large bus to transport people for Rec. Dept. programs, getting residents to the community center, and so forth. The Rec. Dept. said that would mean they would need people with a drivers license for commercial-sized vehicles. Fine, said the council, Rec. Dept. workers should get the required licenses.
They didn’t, however, so the city has had to hire contract workers who do nothing but drive the bus, then sit and wait to drive it back.
The solution, said Colleen Clay, “is to train the staff to DRIVE THE BUS!” – instead of asking the council for a new, smaller bus to replace the van-sized one that has worn out. Which is why this came up before the council.
Councilmember Josh Wright said “I’m sick of this conversation!”
The big bus, which is equipped to handle handicapped persons, has been owned for around 5 years, according to the mayor, but it gets used little – only because there are no staff members who are licensed to drive it. On part time staffer recently got the proper license, the Rec. Staff reported.
The council urged them to get more staff licensed.
Polly Want a Lunch Tray?
Of COURSE the polystyrene ban was passed unanimously by the council. Who among them – or us – would vote against it with the authors of the resolution, a roomful of grade-school kids, staring with those hopeful, big eyes?
The Resolution Regarding the Use of City Funds for Purchase of Disposable Polystyrene Food Service Ware. will cost city $400 yearly to instead purchase biodegradable disposable cutlery.
This is the latest win for the Young Activists Club, a group of elementary school children who are trying to get the county to replace disposable polystyrene cafeteria trays with something more environmentally friendly. So far the county has given them the cold shoulder.

– Gilbert

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.

15 Comments on "No Left, No Right!"

  1. Tom Gagliardo | June 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm |

    Councilmember Josh Wright said “I’m sick of this conversation!”
    Ah,a faint glimmer of hope.

  2. TKPK has had the handicaped-friendly bus for 5 yrs and it gets little use because there is no one on the staff to drive it? And all that the Council could do was “urged to get more people licensed”? After 5 years!
    How about having the Council show some spine and declaring that having the needed license would be a protection factor against losing your job?

  3. Anonymous | June 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm |

    Gotta love Takoma Park citizens, always looking out for numero uno. God forbid somebody else drive down their precious street. Sounds like some people have too much free time.

  4. Name a city or community that isn’t always looking out for numero uno.
    Note it was the non-city residents of the Sligo Creek Hills who started this mess by looking out for themselves, and ignoring the effect their road restrictions would have on nearby Takoma Park streets and residents. The Ritchie Ave. restrictions are defensive against unneighborly Sligo Creek Hills residents and their county henchmen.

  5. Steve Davies | June 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm |

    “Name a city or community that isn’t always looking out for numero uno.”
    Ummmm, Takoma Park? See front page, Takoma Park Newsletter. To wit, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world” — Margaret Mead.
    I guess I was wrong. Everyone really is just looking out for him or herself.
    Gilbert, you speaka da trut’!
    Wait a sec… maybe I can get a No Drive Zone in front of my house… How many signatures do I need?

  6. Steve Davies | June 16, 2010 at 9:19 pm |

    sorry for the double post–the captcha thing is screwed up (that is, you can type it in correctly, and it still won’t post your comment)

  7. I have had exactly the same problems with the captcha…

  8. Our highly trained staff will detect and delete double posts.
    If it doesn’t post the first time, refresh your page to get a new capcha code and try again. Copy your comment first to make sure you don’t lose it.
    Try refreshing the page just before you type in the capcha the first time. See if that works.

  9. Steve Davies | June 17, 2010 at 11:09 am |

    I’ve done that — every time. Sometimes it takes three or four tries… maybe you guys could fix it…

  10. It’s not our technology, but we can pass a query on to the tech people.
    We have not experienced quite the same problem, and we enter comments he same way anyone else does. Occasionally a comment does not post, but refreshing the page solves it. Have you had an opportunity to use a different browser or computer? Have you emptied your cache?

  11. Given those answers, Gilbert must be a techie answering from somewhere in India!

  12. Steve Davies | June 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm |

    I haven’t emptied my cache, but I could send you some cash
    Bada boom!

  13. You didn’t seem to have any trouble with those two comments. Unfortunately.

  14. Steve Davies | June 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm |

    sometimes you just have to have patience…

  15. Gilbert,

    Last week I was very disappointed to observe that those who were behind this misguided attempt to manage traffic have succeeded in getting their signs installed. Here we are 2 years later and I think it is high time for the Voice to run a post-script on this hotly debated topic or at least keep some pressure on this gratuitous gridlock-inducing exercise. Since 2010, far more road neighborhood road construction projects have come to the fore which will only increase consternation with traffic in TkPk….these problems are going to get worse before they get better. Having witnessed the frustrations in 2010 at the Community Center, this reader values the forum you provide as an outlet for clearer thinking on traffic issues. Thanks for your attention.


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