Save the Trees on Wisconsin Avenue

Keep the Green Mile Green

Update: January 2014

SHA will present the latest plans on February 19.  LFWA feels that the environmental impact of the sidewalk is too great to warrant building especially as there are no houses along most of the proposed sidewalk.

Public Meeting
February 19, 2014 - 7:00 pm
Chevy Chase Village Town Hall
5906 Connecticut Ave
Chevy Chase, MD

Please plan on attending to express your support of keeping the Green Mile Green. 

Current plans are HERE

Statement from SHA on purpose of the sidewalk:

The main purpose of this project is to give access to the existing bus stops on the northbound side of MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue).  Along northbound MD 355, there are currently three existing active bus stops between Grafton Street and Bradley Lane; however, there is no sidewalk for pedestrians or for transit users to access these stops.  This gap in sidewalk is approximately 3,500 feet and forces users to either walk along the grass, walk in the roadway, or cross MD 355 to access the bus stops or to continue walking along the east side of MD 355.  This lack of sidewalk is not a desirable or safe condition for pedestrians or transit users.  Additionally, the lack of a sidewalk makes these stops inaccessible to persons with disabilities.  Both MDOT and SHA are committed to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires persons with disabilities be provided equal access where is it reasonable, feasible, and appropriate to do so.  To meet the requirements of ADA, a sidewalk meeting accessibility standards must be provided for the bus stops at this location. I hope this is the information that you needed. 

John Gover
Project Engineer
wgover@sha.state.md.us

Response from LFWA

This sidewalk will not make the bus stops more useful for riders

Little Falls Watershed Alliance feels that this sidewalk will not be useful in making the existing mid-block bus stops more accessible to transit users.  The bus stops are located accross Wisconsin Avenue from the residential area.  There are no houses on the east side of Wisconsin.  The main barrier to using the mid block bus stops is lack of controlled crossing lights.  To safely access the bus stops on the east side of Wisconsin Ave, a person should use the lights at Dorset Ave or Bradley Lane.  There are also bus stops at these lights.  We can think of no situation where a person would want to get off the bus midblock and use sidewalk to walk south to cross Wisconsin Avenue just to walk north again on the west side. 

Bay Friendly Alternative which will be useful to bus riders

LFWA supports a Bay Friendly plan which includes larger bus pads and a shorter sidewalk between Center Street and Grafton.  This will link Center Street to Wisconsin Avenue and allow these residents to safely walk to the bus stop on Grafton.  It will add a fraction of the impervious pavement that the mile long sidewalk adds and greatly reduce the number of trees that need to be removed.  Bus riders will benefit from large bus pads if they choose to cross Wisconsin Avenue midblock.  LFWA, however, encourages all riders to cross at controlled intersections and use the bus stops there.  We strongly feel this is the safest way to ride the bus.

 

Write to our Elected Officials and the State Highway Department;  Ask Them to Make Trees a Priority, Save the Green Mile!

The only way to stop the sidewalk is to let our elected officials know that we would rather have trees than a sidewalk on Wisconsin Avenue.  No one lives along most of the stretch and there are bus stops at the lights where there it is safe to cross the street.  Our County Executive and State Elected officials can ask the State Highway Department to focus on other projects.  So, please write to our officials and ask them to save the trees and spend the money for a sidewalk that is really needed.

The State needs to know that we care about our trees.

Write to our State Delegates:

     Susan Lee, susan.lee@house.state.md.us
     Bill Frick, bill.frick@house.state.md.us
     Ariana Kelly, araina.kelly@house.state.md.us

 MD State Senator Brian Frosh lives in our watershed.  Write him to ask to save these trees.  Brian.Frosh@senate.state.md.us

Ike Leggett, our County Executive, has said he needs to hear from people who don't want the sidewalk.  His email is ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov

Our Council representative is Roger Berliner.  He is on record for trying to keep the Green Mile green.  Write him to remind him of his committment to an urban canopy.  There are ways to make the bus stops safe and keep the trees.  Councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov

Governor O'Malley has made trees a priority for Maryland.  On the Marylanders Plant Trees website, he writes: 

As Marylanders, we take pride in our State and our natural world. We understand the value of stewardship and the importance of a sustainable future, and are committed to working together to create a smarter, greener State....

... Trees provide ecological, economic and quality of life benefits – protecting air and water quality, reducing energy costs, increasing property values and beautifying neighborhoods and highways.

Write to the Governor and ask him to make saving the trees a priority in our fragile watershed. http://www.governor.maryland.gov/mail/

John Gover  is the District 3 project engineer charged with approving the final design.  Let him know your views - wgover@sha.state.md.us 

 

UPDATE: From January 2013

Sidewalk in the Press!  Click HERE to read the latest!

Latest News!  Click HERE to read about the Monday Night Meeting with SHA

Click HERE for graphic notes of the meeting.

The State Highway Administration has proposed a sidewalk for the east side of Wisconsin Avenue between Grafton Street and Bradley Lane in Chevy Chase.  In the design shared with public at the April 26 meeting, all 53 trees along this three-quarter mile length of road will be removed to accommodate an 8 foot shared use path that would run along the Chevy Chase Club fence line.  In the words of the engineer for the project - unfortunately, the stretch will remain treeless as there is no room to replant.  There will be a 2 foot curb strip, but the State requires a 6 foot curb strip for street trees.  

Funding and Projected Cost:  As of December, 2012, "SHA has only funded the design phase of this project with a budget of $150,000.  This is federally funded through SHA’s Pedestrian Access to Transit funds.  The current construction estimate is $1.5 Million but the funding has not been committed at this time.  We are anticipating the funding will come from the same Pedestrian Access to Transit funds."  from  Kate Mazzara, P.E., Assistant District Engineer - Project Development 

Click HERE for the most recent sidewalk plans

Click HERE for map of location of proposed sidewalk

Larger Bus Pads and a Shorter Sidewalk for an Environmentally Responsible Alternative

A Bay Friendly Solution for Wisconsin Avenue:
We propose that the State build larger bus pads and install a sidewalk on the short section of Wisconsin between Hesketh and Grafton as a Bay Friendly alternative to the proposed 3/4 mile sidewalk.  This design will allow for safer mid-block bus stops and access to the Grafton Street bus stop by the residents of Hesketh Street while preserving most of the tree canopy.  

Sidewalk between Hesketh and Grafton:
A five-foot wide sidewalk between Hesketh and Grafton (as shown on page one of the state plan) would necessitate removal of only three trees.  It would greatly benefit the residents of Hesketh who now have only a dirt path to the bus stop and controlled intersection at Grafton. 

Mid-block Bus Stop Pads:
The mid-block bus stops are used only by riders who must cross Wisconsin Avenue to or from the west side as the bus stops are adjacent to a golf course, not a residential area.  We strongly recommend that all bus riders use the crosswalks and bus stops at the controlled intersections at Grafton or Bradley as the safest way to board or disembark from the northbound buses.  However, upgrading the current mid-block bus stops will make them safer for those who are brave enough to cross six lanes of traffic on Wisconsin Avenue without a light or crosswalk.  The mid-block bus stops need larger pads as the current pads are too small to wait safely and do not extend far enough back from the highway.  We suggest that the State install 10' x 8' pads with benches much like there are on River Road and many other State highways where there are no sidewalks.  This could be done with no or minimum loss of trees.   Finally, it is not necessary to connect these bus stops with sidewalks as everyone using the bus stops must cross mid-block to and from the west side of Wisconsin Avenue.  There are no houses on the east side, only the Chevy Chase Club golf course.  Bus riders can use the bus stops at the controlled intersections if they do not wish to cross mid-block.  By not connecting the bus stops, dozens of trees will be saved.

Click Here for a copy of the letter to Brian Young, the District #3 Engineer in charge of the project

Click Here for a copy of the letter to Lisa Choplin with our comments on the SHA justification for the sidewalk.

Environmental Impact too Great for our Fragile Watershed

The Little Falls Watershed Alliance opposes this sidewalk as the environmental impact is too great for our fragile watershed.  

The sidewalk will add more than 31,680 square feet or almost 3/4 an acre of impervious surface to our already over-paved watershed.  

The sidewalk would remove 53 mature trees - some more than 30 inches in diameter.  The role of trees in our environment cannot be over-emphasized.

  • Trees play an important part in stormwater management, preventing hundreds of gallons of polluted run-off  from entering the creek every time it rains.  For an excellent discussion the role of trees in stormwater management, visit the US Forest Service website - http://www.forestsforwatersheds.org/reduce-stormwater/
  • Trees reduce the urban heat island effect, the shade cools the road surfaces and saves us energy in our homes.  
  • Trees provide oxygen and clean pollutants out of the air.  We breath clean air because of the work that trees do.
  • Trees filter polluted water with their root systems so that the ground water is clean  
  • Trees reduce noise pollution and muffle traffic sounds.
  • and finally, it is shown that trees increase property values!

 

Click HERE for a great article from the State of Michigan's website listing 22 reasons to have street trees. One important benefit is that they tend to reduce traffic speeds as well as road rage.

FIght to Save the Green Mile

A number of years ago, communities in Chevy Chase fought to keep this stretch of Wisconsin Avenue as a residential area.  They called it the Green Mile and successfully fought to keep the tree canopy intact and the type of impervious surfaces businesses require out.  Almost 3/4 of an acre would be paved over by the proposed sidewalk.  53 trees would be removed along with dozens of bushes and small shrubs.  Not one bit of vegetation would be replanted, not one tree. The Green Mile needs our help again.   

Write to our Elected Officials and the State Highway Department; 
Ask Them to Make Trees a Priority, Save the Green Mile!

The only way to stop the sidewalk is to let our elected officials know that we would rather have trees than a sidewalk on Wisconsin Avenue.  Our County Executive and State Elected officials can ask the State Highway Department to focus on other projects.  So, please write to our officials and ask them to save the trees and adopt a Bay Friendly Solution.

The State needs to know that we care about our trees.

Write to our State Delegates:

     Susan Lee, susan.lee@house.state.md.us
     Bill Frick, bill.frick@house.state.md.us
     Ariana Kelly, araina.kelly@house.state.md.us

 MD State Senator Brian Frosh lives in our watershed.  Write him to ask to save these trees.  Brian.Frosh@senate.state.md.us

Ike Leggett, our County Executive, has said he needs to hear from people who don't want the sidewalk.  His email is ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov

Our Council representative is Roger Berliner.  He is on record for trying to keep the Green Mile green.  Write him to remind him of his committment to an urban canopy.  There are ways to make the bus stops safe and keep the trees.  Councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov

Governor O'Malley has made trees a priority for Maryland.  On the Marylanders Plant Trees website, he writes: 

As Marylanders, we take pride in our State and our natural world. We understand the value of stewardship and the importance of a sustainable future, and are committed to working together to create a smarter, greener State....

... Trees provide ecological, economic and quality of life benefits – protecting air and water quality, reducing energy costs, increasing property values and beautifying neighborhoods and highways.

Write to the Governor and ask him to make saving the trees a priority for the Wisconsin Avenue project. http://www.governor.maryland.gov/mail/

 

The State Highway said they are still looking for input,  contact Project Engineers, Mr. Uong, duong@sha.state.md.us, or Ms Mazzarakmazzara@sha.state.md.us,and ask them to make trees a priority for the Wisconsin Ave sidewalk.  John Gover is the project engineer charged with approving the final design.  Let him know your views - wgover@sha.state.md.us.

 

Make Trees a Priority for Wisconsin Ave and Keep the Green Mile Green.