It was ward against ward, councilmember versus councilmember!
Ward 3 representative Dan Robinson, wearing a military-style black beret, lobbed spit balls at Ward 4 councilmember Terry Seamens. Seamens, his tie askew, stuck his tongue out, making raspberry noises at Ward 2’s Colleen Clay, who was pegging sour grapes (from California, no doubt) at his head.
Not exactly, but if Mayor Williams hadn’t confiscated all throwable objects before he let them onto the council dais, it MIGHT have happened!
What DID happen is that the usually unanimous council voted 5 to 2 June 14 in favor of restricting rush-hour traffic on Ritchie Avenue. Colleen Clay and Dan Robinson were the dissenting voters, representing many constituents who oppose the restrictions.
Blame Montgomery County! That’s what the council did, pointing the finger at them in the ordinance itself (That’ll show ’em!)! The county approved traffic restrictions in the neighboring Sligo Creek Hills community just out side the city. The county went ahead with those restrictions even though the city council and residents complained that the study was flawed and the repercussions on nearby streets not taken into account. Ritchie Avenue residents in the city’s Ward 4 were concerned that diverted traffic would flow onto their street, so they requested the council impose similar restrictions there.
This poked a lot of Takoma Park citizens in a tender spot. Some use Ritchie as a path around congested routes, and they felt that as city residents they should not be counted as part of the commuter cut-through traffic. Others were concerned that diverted traffic would flow onto their streets.
Terry Seamens stuck up for his Ritchie Avenue constituents. He was the only councilmember to favor the plan weeks ago, but when the vote came up two other council members and the mayor joined him with varying degrees of reluctance. It was Ward 1’s Josh Wright who added a line to the ordinance blaming the county for the whole mess.
The Ritchie Avenue 200
There was resentment about the cost, too. The ordinance calls for traffic calming measures on Ritchie Avenue – curb bump outs and speed humps, and the estimated cost is around $200,000. The reason for traffic calming measures is that the traffic restrictions are temporary – provisionally.
The signs will go up but will come down again when the traffic measures are complete. If after that the traffic exceeds 200 cars an hour, the signs go back up again. That 200 cars an hour is the peak, not the average, count.
Councilmember Robinson asked how the traffic count would be conducted. He preferred a road sensor rather than by “people with clipboards.” The deputy city manager Suzanne Ludlow said the city might have the equipment to do that, but if not it would be an additional expense.
This conjures visions of Ritchie Avenue residents all racing their cars around and around the block to get the count up within an hour. We’d buy tickets to that!
Robinson WAS wearing a beret, by the way. It was to protect his eyes from the bright stage lights focused on the new dais. The council is eagerly awaiting the lights to be programmed so they can be dimmed.