Sunday, May 13, 2012

Status of route 410 negotiations, May 13, 2012

PEN neighbor Robert Lanza posted a bit on the question of route 410 ownership & maintenance. That's Philadelphia Ave in our neighborhoods. I got his OK to include others in my reply, with current status information, as of May 13, 2012 --

Negotiations between the City of Takoma Park and the State Highway Administration (SHA), regarding 410 ownership & maintenance, will not conclude any time soon. The city is working to split off Flower Avenue ownership issue so that we can get started with "green street" construction there.

Near-term Remedies

Before getting into the status of negotiations, I'll report that Takoma Park Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite gives a rough estimate of $20K to $30K to patch Philadelphia Avenue between Park Avenue and Carroll Avenue. The road surface is pretty bad in many spots. I am pursuing having this work done, while we continue to seek a resolution that will lead to complete road resurfacing.

And as I reported, last week, I have asked the SHA to assess the Holly & Philadelphia intersection, for blinking reds or some other, additional traffic/safety measure. I expect to be told that the SHA won't take it on at this time, but you can't know without asking.

The Status of Negotiations

The last draft of the city-state memorandum of understanding (MOU), dated January 31 and based on lawyers' negotiations, leaves ownership of the land under 410 in Takoma Park incompletely determined. It works around the uncertainty by having the city grant a Perpetual Maintenance Easement, for 410, to the state. The easement would say that the state may maintain city-owned portions of 410, whatever stretches those may be. (They could be every part from Montgomery College to NH Avenue except where Philadelphia parallels Old Philadelphia). I see no drawbacks to the easement.

The issue is that the state is asking to city to abandon any significant role in maintenance, sign, signal, crosswalk, stormwater standards and decisions. The draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) says the state will give the city notice of sign, signal, and crosswalk plans. The city will be given opportunity to comment, but the draft MOU doesn't say the state has to acknowledge our comments, much less do anything in response to them. For stormwater work and sidewalk installations, it doesn't even say that the city must be given notice and allowed to comment!

It is very strange that the lawyer-negotiated draft MOU grants the city far less say in permitting than did an April 12, 2011 letter from SHA Administrator Neil Pedersen. Compare paragraph (6), in particular, to Section IV of the draft MOU.

On one further point, sidewalks --

A few years ago, the city had a plan to take privately-owned land to put a second sidewalk on Ethan Allen. Residents' objections killed that plan. Were the state to decide that a sidewalk is needed along that stretch of 410, the state wouldn't even have to consult the city, according to the draft MOU.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or concerns that I can address.

1 comment:

  1. But the state would have to compensate land owners for any right of way they might take for a sidewalk. The city was not offering compensation. I was told a year or two ago by someone in the sidewalk section of SHA that the state has no money to compensate for using eminent domain to take private property for sidewalks.

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