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Posted at 3:59 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Leggett backs street closing for Suburban

By Katherine Shaver

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has recommended permanently closing one block of a Bethesda street to allow Suburban Hospital to expand, drawing criticism from local residents who say they need the access to Old Georgetown Road.

In a letter sent Thursday, Leggett asked the County Council to approve the hospital’s request that the county “abandon” Lincoln Street between Old Georgetown Road and Grant Street. Suburban, which owns and rents out the nine homes along that portion of Lincoln, has proposed demolishing the houses and closing the street as part of its $230-million plans, including building a parking garage in that area.

Leggett wrote that the county’s Department of Transportation determined that other roads could handle local traffic. Leggett asked the council to close that stretch as long as the hospital’s expansion plans are approved with no appeals pending. The Huntington Terrace Citizens Association, whose residents live adjacent to the hospital, has appealed the October zoning approval. The hospital also would have to maintain pedestrian and bicycle paths in that area, according to Leggett’s recommendation.

Amy Shiman, president of the Huntington Terrace Citizens Association, said closing that block of Lincoln Street would leave the neighborhood without its primary access to Old Georgetown Road. The hospital could avoid impacts to Lincoln Street, she said, by building higher on the site of its current parking lot and by changing its construction designs.

The council has not scheduled a vote on the street closure.

By Katherine Shaver  | February 3, 2011; 3:59 PM ET
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