Concept sketch of the Silver Spring Library, with bridge.

Proposals for a skybridge connecting Silver Spring’s new library to the adjacent parking garage became even more remote yesterday, as Montgomery County’s Health and Human Services and Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committees voted to uphold the existing prohibitions against skybridges in downtown Silver Spring.

The Silver Spring CBD Urban Renewal Plan prohibits the construction of a pedestrian bridge across Wayne Avenue. The “parking access” bridge was being proposed to connect the Wayne Avenue garage to the new Silver Spring library.

From the outset of the project, library designs have included a parking access bridge. This outdated design concept from the 1960s destroys streetlife, vitality and development in urban areas, and creates automobile-dominated roadways that fail to meet the needs of those on foot or bike.

Cities across the country, including Baltimore, have been going to great lengths over the last few years to dismantle these skywalks in an effort to revitalize urban communities.

To alleviate Councilmembers’ concerns about ADA access, planning staff developed a plan to accommodate the required 7 handicapped parking spaces in addition to a drop off location on the library site itself, providing safe and convenient access for those with mobility limitations. This strategy is more cost-effective and has significantly fewer negative impacts for downtown Silver Spring.

The full Council will make the final decision next Tuesday, July 28th.

Added by David: The Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee comprises Nancy Floreen, Roger Berliner, and George Leventhal Mike Knapp, Nancy Floreen, and Marc Elrich. the same committee voted for the I-270 widening last week, but did the right thing on this issue. Health and Human Services includes Leventhal, Duchy Trachtenberg, and Nancy Navarro. Update: I got the PHED committee mixed up with the Transportation & Environment committee. Oops.

The Council also voted to sustain the parking subsidy for libraries, which spends precious public funds to make sure it’s free for people to drive to the Rockville library, but not free to take the bus or Metro there.