County moves ahead with walkways to connect south Silver Spring

Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006

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By next summer, south Silver Spring is expected to be a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly community, with an expanded network of walkways.

The Department of Housing and Community Affairs is working on creating pedestrian pathways that cut through the neighborhood. DHCA completed the Arts Alley at Blair Mill Road in 2005. That link connects Georgia Avenue and East West Highway and provides access to restaurants and shops. It was the first of eight pathways designed to cut through the cumbersome framework in south Silver Spring, an area characterized by industrial blocks.

A link between Kennett Street and East West Highway is under construction. DHCA is also moving forward with plans for another linkage between Kennett Street and Eastern Avenue, by the Kennett Street Garage, said Pat Shepherd, the project manager. DHCA hopes to complete that link by next summer.

The county purchased $1.5 million worth of property to create the links.

DHCA also is working on creating wayfinding signs for south Silver Spring, said DHCA’s David Chikvashvili.

Developers of private projects in the neighborhood, such as residential buildings, are completing some of the planned linkages. When they are complete, the pathways will provide better access for everyone, Shepherd said.

‘‘There are more pedestrians and though it was once an industrial neighborhood, it is now an urban neighborhood,” she said.

Residents are pleased with the progress.

‘‘I’m very proud of the county for bringing this into fruition. The Arts Alley is fabulous,” said Silver Spring resident Mark Bombaugh at a Nov. 15 Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board commercial and economic development committee meeting.