“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”

(Robert Frost)

A lively discussion on the invaluable blog Greater Greater Washington about the wall in the middle of Marinelli Rd. between the White Flint Metro Station and the headquarters of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (a Friends of White Flint member). The wall blocks people coming out of the Metro Station from going straight across the street into the NRC.

Some people believe the wall is another example of exalting automobiles over pedestrians. Others think it is part of the post-9/11 protections for the NRC.

Jeff Dunkle, an affable young man in charge of Montgomery County’s pedestrian safety engineering, replied:

     Montgomery County prefers, at heavily trafficked intersections, to have pedestrians cross at crosswalks with pedestrian signals – – especially when these signals are already located in proximity to the “desire line” crossing. This stone wall effectively “channelizes” pedestrians to the signalized crossing – – essentially 40 feet to the west of the Metro Station entrance. Comments regarding the history of this wall are correct. At this entrance to the White Flint Metro Station, there had previously been an uncontrolled, unconventional crosswalk set back from the intersection. Pedestrians attempting to cross there were placed in serious jeopardy of vehicles hitting them, as drivers proceeding on green signals would unexpectedly encountered pedestrians attempting to cross Marinelli some 40 to 60 feet back from the intersection. The orignal condition that Cavin is suggesting be restored was indeed a very hazardous crossing situation. This is why the County changed it over 5 years ago. The wall had nothing to do with security, but rather with improving pedestrian safety and aesthetics. The stone wall was intended to reflect the “white flint” location. That being said, the County usually favors softer channelization measures for pedestrians – – such as the landscaped streetscape and median berms of Silver Spring and Bethesda. We don’t believe these softer channelization measures endanger pedestrians either. I also will add that observations of our traffic engineers and review of pedestrian collision data indicate these measures – – only one of the many measures now being employed in the County – – are indeed working. The White Flint Metro Station entrance on Marinelli is much safer today than it was at the turn of the century. We don’t want to go back.

Sometimes making things tough for pedestrians is not a bad thing.


(Across Rockville Pike from the Metro Station and NRC)

Interesting, though, that the County thought that a “stone wall . . . reflect[ed] the ‘white flint’ location” instead of the “usual[] softer channelization measures for pedestrians.” Maybe they think White Flint pedestrians are particularly hard to “channelize”? Besides, if they truly wanted to reflect the existing White Flint, it should have been a patch of asphalt with a few cars parked on it.

Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall


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