One of the main proposals for revitalizing Rockville Pike and other areas in the White Flint Sector is to make the sidewalk more beautiful and pedestrian-friendly. One common practice, used, for example, in Wheaton and Bethesda, is to add bricks instead of poured pavement.
But a controversy has arisen about the use of brick “pavers.” Some, including those who are mobility-challenged, believe that brick pavers are more dangerous; others claim that they require more maintenance to avoid holes, breaks and “pop-ups.”
That controversy has reached the Montgomery County Council. Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson sent a report to the Council discussing the use of brick pavers; Hanson noted that to avoid the maintenance problems, a heavy underlayer of concrete is needed, which increases a project’s cost. Hanson noted, however, that the heavier material supports traffic better, and he recommends the use of bricks in central business districts. It is likely that the future White Flint would be considered in that class of area.
The County Council will now decide whether to ban brick pavers, or permit their use. Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) suggested that the solution might be to use Hanson’s recommendation for bricks in central business districts, but only those with a dedicated revenue source to be able to pay for monitoring and maintenance. The current White Flint Sector Plan includes that sort of implementation process. The irony is that the compromise Floreen is promoting comes from the County Executive, which has opposed an implementation authority in White Flint as a dilution of the Executive’s power to distribute White Flint’s revenue to other parts of the County.
Here’s an article in today’s Gazette, the latest in a series, on this controversy: http://www.gazette.net/stories/04082009/wheanew193820_32488.shtml