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Work Beginning on Transit Center

We've quite rightly focused many of our transportation discussions on the upcoming transit and road projects in the Tysons area, but beginning just a bit earlier on the Maryland side is the construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center.

If your commute by car, bus or rail takes you through downtown Silver Spring, you're probably starting to notice the scattered preparations. There's a new median along Colesville Road, curb work along Wayne, Dixon and Ramsey avenues and new paving heading toward the MARC rail platform.

They're just warming up. During the daily rush, 145 buses an hour pass through the station. By the time we're deep into the summer, the Metrobuses and Ride Ons --145 of which use the station each hour during the rush period -- will have moved out of the bus bays near the Metrorail entrance to their temporary stops on the nearby streets. Since Discovery opened its headquarters and the new downtown of theaters, restaurants and shops began to blossom, those streets have become increasingly congested.

When everyone is back at work and school after summer vacation, this should be interesting. On heavily traveled Wayne Avenue in front of the Discovery building, 10,500 people will get on and off buses each day. Plans call for a new traffic signal at the intersection of Wayne and Dixon avenues, and fences already have been positioned to prevent people from cross Wayne in the middle of the block. You should see crossing guards and police officers out there controlling pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

The Metro station's Kiss & Ride area will move into the nearby Bonifant parking garage. MARC passengers will follow a path to and from the south end of the station once the northside access is blocked off by construction. The station trailer will be removed during the second week of July, MARC says. After that, one-way tickets can be purchased from conductors with cash at no penalty, and riders can get the monthly tickets through the Ticket by Mail program.

Independent of the transit center project, a new entrance will be created this summer on the southwest side of the Metrorail station, near the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offices.

Construction of the $75 million center won't be complete until fall 2009, but the results should be worth the lengthy disruption: The new transit center will combine Metrorail, Metrobus, Ride On, MARC, inter-city bus service, taxis and Kiss & Rides into one three-decker center. One of the best features of the design is the separation of car and bus traffic -- it's almost worth the $75 million just to end that chaos near Colesville Road.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 30, 2007; 5:01 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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