Monday, January 31, 2011

Five Days Later

Last Wednesday we had a rather large snow/ice event that left about 9 inches of heavy frozen stuff. Linbs came down and thousands were without electricity for a day or three. The roads were a mess and vehicle traffic was snarled. Pedestrians were walkig in the streets everywhere because the sidewalks were impassible.

As usual, it took a couple of days to recover from the wintry blast, but the roads were clear and the lights back on by Sunday. Pedestrians, however, are still walking in the streets. If you drive everywhere you may think that the worst is over. In fact, vehicle speeds - that were reduced to handle the inclement weather - are now back to normal. Unfortunately for pedestrians, the storm is still being felt.

I walked to downtown Silver Spring this afternoon for lunch with my wife. I took these photos on the way there an back.

Let's begin with the sink hole in front of my home. Every since December, 2009 pedestrinas on Sligo Avenue have had to deal with the dangers caused by this extended and botched attempt to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Montgomery County DOT has filled these holes more than twice, but it is clear that the situation will only be permanently resolved when the old poles are finally all gone and concrete is poured in these panels.

As we continue along Sligo Avenue you notice that, while most neighbors are thoughful and clear the ice and snow off of the sidewalks adjacent to their property, some do not. Vacant homes or homes where the occupants are out of town don't get done. The path is covered with snow that has been stomped into slippery ice. Five days after the snow and no concrete in sight.
This photo shows the crosswalk at the 3rd District Police Station. The sidewalks are clear, but access to the ramp is blocked with plowed snow. This encourages pedestrians to spend more time in the road as they maneuver to an open spot, several feet beyond the crosswalk on either side.
Continuing westward on Sligo we come to a real problem area. The two homes on either side of Woodbury have sidewalks adjacent to their property on two sides - Along Woodbury to their front, and along Sligo on the side. These property owners shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes, but obviously feel no compulsion to do the long stretches along Sligo. The sidewalk here is always blocked during significant snow. 125 feet of blocked sidewalk.

Clear sidewalks in front - but they stop short.

This glacier-like mass of ice will be here for weeks.

This property owner had his driveway plowed. The snow was deposited in a 3ft high berg over the sidewalk.

In front of this office building, a utility pole support wire and ice-crushed landscaping create a very narrow passage.

Most of the curbcuts on Fenton street are at least partially blocked by plowed snow. Some curbcuts have been adequately cleared, and others remain completely blocked. The four photographs above represent the conditions of curbcuts along Fenton Street. Some curbcuts have been cleared but the crosswalk is still blocked by plowed snow. Fenton Street is not accessible to people with wheelchairs or walkers, and dangerous to people with impaired vision

In front of the Greyhound station on Fenton Street. Plowed snow reduces the passage to mere inches.

This is the bus stop on Sligo Ave near Fenton. Completely blocked by snow. Rides have to wait in a nearby driveway.

The bus stop at Sligo Ave and Chicago Ave. The sidewalk has been cleared, but the crosswalk has not.

The crosswalk/ pedestrian refuge, and Sligo Ave and Chicago. The refuge is still covered in snow, as is the curb ramp on the far side.

Your power is back, cable TV and internet access are back, the roads are clear, and things are pretty much back to normal, right? Wrong. If you are a pedestrian, disabled, young, old, or simply trying to catch the bus it is definitely NOT over for you. Pedestrians are usually the last group of people to recover from a major ice storm. Let's hope we can fully recover before we get hit again. Imagine how treacherous things will be when these conditions are concealed beneath a fresh blanket of snow?

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