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Rather than fill precious time and space with more blather on the "need for civility" I'm going to revisit a topic that impacts more than 500 households in the Linfield, Fireside, Waddington Park, Courthouse Walk and Hungerford neighborhoods. This topic is the most recent traffic pattern modification to West Argyle Street in Rockville, Maryland. This is a case where the interests of a few has far outweighed the interest of the many. Follow me below the fold for all the details and the candidates answers...

Question 3: The few residents of West Argyle Street have petitioned the city for and received substantial changes to the traffic pattern over recent years. While some of the changes were necessary, others detrimentally impacted a large number of Rockville residents in Linfield, Hungerford, Waddington Park, Fireside and Courthouse Walk. The no left turn from West Argyle onto Maryland Avenue between the hours of 7AM and 9 AM targets local resident commuters forcing them to take a longer, more congested alternative route that consumes more time and adversely affects their property values. There is no evidence that cut-through traffic has been substantially affected by this turn restriction. As a member of city council how would you address the concerns of the far greater number of voters that have been adversely affected?

A little background...
Quite some time ago now, Residents of West Argyle Street experienced signifcant cut-through traffic as people cut-through on their way to Dogwood Park, a municipal center of football, soccer and baseball leagues. In an attempt to reduce said cut-through traffic turns onto said West Argyle from Maryland Avenue were restricted and eventually a bump out which prevents entering traffic was required. Since local kids also use the street on their way to middle school, the a sidewalk was installed and speed bumps were put in place. Finally, a left turn restriction between 7 and 9AM was instituted.

It is this last change that has gone a step too far, for you see, it is a measure directly targeted at neighborhood commuters and NOT cut-through traffic. I looked at the traffic monitoring data and the change is based on one 15 minute interval just barely exceeding a municipal level that allows action.  For public comment communities with no actual need for morning commute access to West Argyle (West End, New Mark) were notified and invited for comment, while numerous communities within the Voting District 1 area (notably Hungerford-Stoneridge) were left out. Of course we became aware of the change once it was instituted, and city staff made apologies for their inconvenient and embarassing oversight, but it was clear that they and the city council were/are content to leave what is done as done.

Despite city staff assurances that the alternate route represents a minimal diversion, my own measured outbound transit times during actual traffic times shows an addition 2 to 3.5 minutes (due to stop sign, street lights and congesion on Fleet Street). I have had other local homeowners assert a reduction in property values because they can no longer claim close proximity to I-270. So we doggedly petition the city to reconsider the turn restriction and take down that sign. Only by making it clear during city elections which candidates hold our positions do we have a hope of moving the city council.

Mayoral Candidates
Susan Hoffman (incumbent Mayor, 1 term)

No response thusfar

Phyllis Marcuccio (incumbent City Councilmember, 2 terms)

No response thusfar

City Council Candidates
John Britton (incumbent councilmember, 1 term)

(Received 10/30/09) The restrictions placed on Argyle Street predate my tenure on the city council.  It is my understanding that the a.m. left turn restriction was instituted after an analysis of the traffic flow and volume on Argyle at that time of day.  If your assumptions about the adverse impacts on neighboring commuters are correct, then I would not object to a review of the results of that earlier analysis and a new analysis of current conditions.

Supplement sent on 23 Nov 09 - "Argyle Street – I have still to check concerning the flexibility on the sign issue."

Piotr Gajewski (incumbent councilmember, 1 term)

No response thusfar

Carl Henn

West Argyle is only a quarter mile long with a sidewalk along the side and two speed humps.  It has very few residents and little pedestrian activity.  The morning left turn restriction makes drivers go further down Monroe , Fleet and Maryland , roads that have higher speeds and more pedestrians.  I believe that allowing left turns from Argyle onto Maryland would be better both for pedestrian safety and for people currently made to dry further out of their way by the current restrictions.  I favor eliminating the a.m. turn restriction from Argyle to Maryland Avenue.

Trapper Martin

The original thinking and public hearing information is located at:  Based on what has happened since then you can certainly ask the City to study this again if you feel it is a problem.  Do you feel that the extra minute projections for travel time to 270 is inaccurate?  Public hearings have already been held on this but if you were to propose an alternate to what is there the City could go through this process again.  

Tom Moore

I have a good appreciation for the damage to a neighborhood that cut-through traffic can do, and am generally in favor of directing commuting traffic to streets that are better-designed to handle it.  But I have heard about the West Argyle situation from enough voters that I would want to take a close look at that if elected.  

Bridget Newton

Absolutely I would vote to reopen the issue of traffic in our neighborhoods and not just on Argyle.  Older neighborhoods are besieged with cut-thru traffic because they were developed on the grid pattern thus the ability to drive parallel to more congested traffic arteries.  We need to look at how neighborhood traffic is impacted and  ensure that the solution to one problem does not adversely create another.  

Virginia Onley

No response thusfar

Waleed Ovase

No response thusfar

Mark Pierzchala

I support the current restrictions on West Argyle. I took this position when I ran for mayor 2 years ago, and I have maintained it this election too. You can find this on the Q&A tab of my website. The restrictions were arrived at through a pre-defined process. No law was made up specifically for these residents. I prioritize the livabilty of homes; and enormous volumes of traffic on such a small street can seriously degrade livability. I find it hard to believe that the volume has not been significantly reduced on W. Argyle during rush hour.

Max Van Balgooy

No response thusfar

Originally posted to Enterik on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 04:17 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 04:17:09 AM PDT

  •  Sounds like Carl Henn actually knows of the issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and shares the diarist's concerns and POV. It could be said that  Mark Pierzchala  also gave one of the best answers because he, again, is more than aware of the issue and has staked out a position - whether or not it is the right view in the eyes of the diarist. There is something to be said for the consistency of his stand. I'm further downcounty and rarely make it up to Rockville, so I would have a hard time pronouncing myself on this issue.

    •  Unless you live in Rockville voting district 1... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tomsank would be unlikely to have an informed opinion. Since Carl Henn actually lives in district 1, he is well aware of the issue in it's gory details, even though he commutes via bike.

      Mark Pierzchala, while consistant, has, IMO, formed his position based on misapprehended notions, the most aggregious of which being that local commuters are somehow cut-through traffic. The absurdity in his statement is that the "livability" of the street was not impacted by the left turn restriction at all.

      Subsequently Trapper Martin has averred his willingness to revisit the topic.

      (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

      by Enterik on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 06:32:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is District 1 anywhere near Guitar Center? n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        •  I guess it depends on scale... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If Guitar Center resides in Rockville, it is down at the extreme southern corner of either District 5 (Montrose) or district 6 (Twinbrook), but is most likely in unincorperated county lands. Either way, District 1 is maybe a mile or so up the pike from Guitar Center. It is bordered by Wooten Parkway on the south, I-270 to the west, The Pike to the East and Maryland Avenue/East Jefferson to the North.

          (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

          by Enterik on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 09:46:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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