Silver Spring Bridge Causing Stress for Nearby Residents

Bridge will be demolished in 2019 to make way for the Purple Line

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Talbot Avenue bridge

VIA DAVID ROTENSTEIN

For more than a year, the Talbot Avenue bridge, which spans the CSX railroad tracks in Silver Spring, has been closed. But next year the 100-year-old bridge will be demolished and replaced with a new bridge, in conjunction with construction of the Purple Line, which will run beneath it, parallel to the railroad tracks.

When that happens, North Woodside resident Gloria Lewis and her neighbors are expecting increased traffic on Grace Church Road, where she lives, and the adjacent Hanover Street.

“It’s not going to be fun for the neighborhood. We’ll be forced to sacrifice,” she said.

Lewis worries that drivers traveling to downtown Silver Spring from Lyttonsville will likely use the bridge and her street as a convenient shortcut. She said prior to the bridge’s closure in May 2017, most GPS’s directed cars to use that route.

“When the bridge is open there are times you practically can’t get out of your own driveway, because the bridge is a favorite cut through,” she said.

Currently, the Talbot Avenue bridge is closed due to structural issues, and will remain closed next year due to Purple Line construction. The Lyttonsville Place bridge is also currently closed due to the line’s construction, meaning that drivers accessing Woodside from the West must take East-West Highway to 16th Street, or alternatively utilize the Brookeville Road bridge over the tracks, via Kansas and Stewart avenues.

Lewis, a North Woodside resident since 1969, said she has largely been pleased since the bridge closed. There is less traffic, and crime has dropped. But by next year, Lewis expects an “exodus” from the neighborhood.

“People are looking at one another and saying ‘do you want to move now?’” she said.

When completed, the Purple Line will connect Montgomery and Prince George’s counties over a 16 mile stretch, from Bethesda to New Carrollton. Completion is projected for 2022.

The Silver Spring portion of the line will include a planned station in Lyttonsville, near the Lyttonsville Place Bridge, as well as stations at 16th Street and the Silver Spring Metro station. The light rail line will be built parallel to the existing heavy rail on this section.

Asgar Ali Mohammed, who lives on the Lyttonsville side of the Talbot Avenue bridge, said he and his wife already feel vibrations in their home from passing freight and passenger trains. He worries that the Purple Line construction could lead to structural damage due to the increased noise and vibrations.

Mohammed added that for the last couple of months, police have been shutting down Kansas Avenue during rush hour periods. This has created a bottleneck, in that everyone must take East West Highway to get to Silver Spring.

“Every day the police are there stopping people [on Kansas Avenue] and giving us tickets,” he said.

The Talbot Avenue bridge was once the link between segregated communities. African Americans lived on the Lyttonsville side, and North Woodside was primarily white. Local historian David Rotenstein has tried to honor the bridge’s history, first by creating a pop-up museum on the bridge in April. On Saturday, residents from both sides of the bridge will gather on the bridge once again to celebrate the bridge’s centennial with arts, food and entertainment.

“[County Executive] Ike Leggett will speak and present a proclamation, proclaiming the 22nd Talbot Avenue Bridge day,” Rotenstein said.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett presents Lyttonsville resident Charlotte Coffield with a plaque Saturday. Photo by David Rotenstein.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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