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Silver Spring Station This Morning

Wayne and Dixon.jpg
Buses, police, crossing guards and drivers must all adjust to new traffic patterns near Silver Spring Metro station. (Thomson)

Silver Spring's old hub for buses and taxis was deserted this morning, surrounded by chain link fence. But the nearby streets were bustling as never before with buses and pedestrians -- and some impatient drivers trying to get around them.

The zone was flooded with police, crossing guards and guides pointing out the new bus stops to confused commuters. One Metro supervisor compared the operation to the opening of Nationals Park, only there, some streets could be closed off for safety.

At Silver Spring, there are more bus to bus transfers than bus to rail transfers. There were limits to how far apart the new bus stops could be spread after the station area was shut on Sunday to make way for construction of the new transit center.

So this morning, commuters had their first experience with the results of some planning designed to keep everyone safe and on time for the two years it will take to build the transit center.

During the hour and a half I spent wandering around the area this morning, the most interesting zone was the intersection of Wayne and Dixon avenues, on the south side of the Discovery building. (That's the photo at the top.)

Wayne and Dixon are now lined with bus stops. The streets are crowded with pedestrians as never before at that hour. They're not used to it, and neither are drivers.

As I waited in line to make a left from Wayne onto Dixon, a pickup truck pulled out of the line and went around us to make the turn, passing right by the crossing guard who had the rest of us waiting for pedestrians. That's an easy way to mow down pedestrians.

That intersection has lots of turning traffic. Many vehicles will be turning to and from Wayne, the main artery, especially now that Wayne provides access to Metro's relocated Kiss & Ride zone, in the parking garage on Bonifant. (It might be easier to get to this by heading south on Georgia Avenue and making a right onto Bonifant, then a left at the stop sign into the garage.)

At Wayne and Ramsey, a block away and closer to the station, the crossing guard had to constantly yell, "Wait for the walk light!" as people stepped out onto Ramsey without breaking stride in the face of oncoming traffic. Most people listened to her instructions.

To enter and exit the Metrorail station on the east side, which is the most heavily used side, people must funnel into a walkway close to Colesville Road. The chain link fence around the old bus hub severely restricts the walkers' options and masses people along Wayne Avenue.

Montgomery County and the transit authority, which had observers on the scene, will be reviewing the setup and looking for any improvements they might make. What did you see and what would you suggest?

Here's a link to the map showing the new locations of the bus stops, taxi zone, Kiss & Ride, MARC station entrance and van dropoff. This is the map that the information aides were handing out along the streets today.

I plan to go back and look at the afternoon rush, so check back for an update.

[We have an online discussion at 1 p.m. today to talk about all our local transportation topics. Please join me. You can use this link to submit questions or comments ahead of time.]

By Robert Thomson  |  September 29, 2008; 10:07 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Metro , transit  
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Next: Metro Announces Oct. Weekend Schedule


They need another couple yards of lateral space along Colesville Road to access the Metro from Wayne Avenue.

Posted by: Lindemann | September 29, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: That is a pretty narrow pathway into the station entrance from Colesville. There are plenty of pedestrians heading both into and out of the station during rush periods, and it's difficult to maintain that two-way flow in such a restricted space.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | September 29, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Everything went pretty smoothly for me. I got off the # 15 on Bonifant Street around 6:35 this morning.

A lot of people seemed confused by the new setup but there were a lot of Metro employees on hand to tell riders where to find the bus they were looking for. I was ready and knew exactly where to go. The # 79 bus was exactly where it was supposed to be and left on time.

I can't wait to see what the walk from the Metro to catch the # 15 back home is like.

Posted by: OddNumberDave | September 29, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I will be curious if more bus to rail transfer folks just start disembarking at the stop near the Fillimore (sp?)/across from City Place on Rte 29. I took the Ride On 21 in this morning, and by the time it made the left turn on to Georgia Ave, wound its way to its new zone, and I had to walk all the way around the old bus terminal to Rte 29, I probably could have gotten to the metro faster by walking from the Fillimore stop.

I am not looking forward to two years of this.

Posted by: Ride On Rider | September 29, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Two years of this? It'll be two-and-a-half, minimum. They'll finish just in time for Purple Line construction to start.

Posted by: DrB | September 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I change from the 16th street bus to the ride on going to into rockville. I didn't have too much trouble. best thing to do is just avoid the congestion you can by walking a bit more. hopefully the car traffic will catch on and people will find alternate roots.

Posted by: cam | September 30, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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