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Could Creative Crosswalks Be In Bethesda’s Future?

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 12/11/2013, 3:50pm  ET

Baltimore

For now, it’s just an idea, but one of many Montgomery County planners will be putting out to the public in the coming months while refining a new vision for downtown Bethesda.

Planners posted an article from The Atlantic with some photos of the “hopscotch” and “zipper” crosswalks installed in Baltimore to promote the city’s new Westside Arts and Entertainment District.

It’s a planning “item of interest,” but something that could inspire plans for the Central Business District. Many residents say it could use some more vitality. At an open house in November, residents, business owners and other stakeholders almost universally agreed the area needs more engaging and functional civic spaces.

The last Bethesda CBD Sector Plan was drawn up in 1994.

“Please note, this type of ‘art intervention’ at an intersection, would require approval of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and, where a state highway is involved, the State Highway Administration. In addition, the cost of implementation and assumption of maintenance responsibilities would need to be addressed,” planners wrote, before asking for feedback.

A crosswalk more like the one to the left may be more realistic in the long run. It’s an example of a crosswalk design from Seattle and shows how county planners are hoping to incorporate trendy urban planning techniques in Bethesda.

As for the Sector Plan itself, planners report they are working to meet an internal deadline Friday to summarize Bethesda’s existing conditions — demographics, traffic, carbon footprint, land use and open space, jobs and housing included.

With that and the feedback they’ve received so far, planners will form a work schedule and scope of work, which must eventually be approved by the Planning Board.