Takoma Metro development: Traffic analysis + my November 21 comment

WMATA has provided a Takoma Traffic Analysis Technical Memo assessing the impacts of the proposed joint development project at Takoma.

WMATA’s next official project step will likely be consideration, by the board’s Planning, Program Development & Real Estate (PPDRE) Committee, of a Takoma Amended Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with developer EYA, at a December 5, 2013 meeting. If PPDRE votes to move forward with the Amended JDA, the full board would take up the topic at its December 19 meeting.

For those who are interested, the following is my comment before the WMATA board, at its November 21, 2013 meeting. Also commenting were ANC 4B Commissioners Sara Green and Faith Wheeler and community member Jim DiLuigi, an architect with ADA-accessibility expertise.

My comment:

Good morning. I am Seth Grimes, a member of the Takoma Park City Council. Thank you for the opportunity to comment this morning.

I was here at the last board meeting, last month, to comment on the Takoma project. Subsequently the Takoma Park City Council did pass a resolution on Takoma Metro development, on October 28. You received it. It was also transmitted to the Montgomery County Executive, to the Montgomery County Council, to the Director of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

The city, officially, does call on WMATA and developer EYA to modify the design for development at the Takoma Metro station, that would be incorporated in the Takoma Joint Development Agreement, to fully address concerns about safety (the loading-dock positioning in particular), transit accessibility for persons with disabilities, neighborhood compatibility, massing and step-back from Eastern Avenue, building height within the current zoning — the proposed building height is far outside the current zoning limits, and speculation about a Washington DC Planned Unit Development process is only speculation at this point — and traffic impact on Takoma.

I understand that the design that we were provided by developer EYA on November 4th mislabels the position of the ADA and elderly persons’ drop-off. We have not been provided with a revised design, nor with a design that addresses the loading-dock positioning, which would entail trucks backing across a sidewalk on Eastern Avenue NW.

It is important for you, as the WMATA board, to insist on a correct, workable, safe, accessible design, prior to voting a Takoma Amended Joint Development agreement, in particular, noting that WMATA does wish to move forward with EYA despite an expired [earlier] agreement, without recompeting the project. Normally a recompete would surface the best financial terms and best design.

We are confident that EYA can come forward with great financial terms for WMATA, with a design that will promote transit usage, that will meet community concerns regarding safety, transit accessibility, traffic impact, community compatibility.

We ask you to insist on such a design from developer EYA, prior to enacting a Takoma Amended Joint Development Agreement.

Thank you.

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