As a major streetscape project along Fenton Street finishes, one member of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Committee says he’s worried the way the sidewalk is built could create a tripping problem for pedestrians.
Street improvements and pedestrian access were part of the Fenton Village and Georgia Avenue Streetscape project along both sides of Fenton Street, from Wayne Avenue on the north to Philadelphia Avenue on the south.
During a committee meeting on Thursday, member Ernest Bland still had concerns about pedestrians not noticing that the curb extends six inches up from the sidewalk — a step that he said could trip them.
“The concern remains somebody tripping right there either from getting out of the car or more specifically walking along talking [on the phone],” said Bland.
Roger Stanley, a senior planning specialist for the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs who came to update the committee, said the curb has been discussed “over and over again.”
“Not to say that things cannot be modified if we have any issues,” Stanley said.
Stanley said the Fenton Village and Georgia Avenue Streetscape project is complete but still needs final walk-through approval from Maryland State Highway Administration officials. The project complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Stanley said.
Bland said the area is “newer looking [and] it is crisper looking.... but the reality of it still remains a concern,” said Bland.
Elements of the streetscape for the Fenton Village streetscape project included replacement of portions of existing sidewalk, driveways and adjoining curb and gutter. Also, installation of brick pavers, lighting and new trees and other landscape features, according to SilverSpringdowntown.com.
The project was divided into four phases.
Phases one and two, from Wayne Avenue to Silver Spring Avenue, were done by E&R Services Inc. in Lanham and cost $813,900.
Phases three and four, from Silver Spring Avenue to Selim Road, were done by Beltsville-based Olney Mansory Corporation and cost $480,000.
According to official documents, the original streetscape was constructed more than 25 years ago, and the purpose of the project was to address and comply with current requirements from the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Stanley said he has been getting a lot of positive feedback from the community.
During the meeting other projects were also discussed, including a presentation from John Marcolin, urban designer from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, with updates about pending developments in downtown Silver Spring.
Marcolin said the next steps for each development are opportunities for public space, and increasing the focus on buildings that are environmentally friendly.
The committee also talked about green spaces in Silver Spring referring to the idea brought by Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer (D-At large) on having a Silver Spring “Central Park” at the triangular area on Ramsey Avenue, Wayne Avenue and Colesville Road next to the Silver Spring Transit Center. The councilman said there’s a possibility for the space to be open in the spring.
Marcolin said there are different strategies to take into consideration on what makes the space usable by the community.
“Having the location is not the only thing that makes a good space; you’ve got to have activated users around it,” said Marcolin.
The Silver Spring Urban District Committee meets every third Thursday of the month at 8110 Georgia Ave., third floor, in Silver Spring.