punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

SSTC: Not a venerial disease, but will act like one

When I first started working here, nay, the day I showed up for an interview, I felt like I had ended up on the wrong side of the tracks. Oddly enough, a job I had in 1986 took me here, and I got to know Silver Spring back then as a run down series of vacant lots, a few low-income apartments, and some scattered office buildings. Downtown Silver Spring is now completely different. But when I interviewed at my current workplace in 2005, Silver Spring was still cleaning up some of their sordid past. Nowadays, only a thin film of urban decay still shows up. For instance, I don't see open drug dealing anymore, which is nice.

The Silver Spring Metro stop is still a hub of activity where I probably would avoid at night. But that is about to change. For the last few years, all they talked about was the "Silver Spring Transit Center." This mecca of office buildings, retail space, will combine the MARC commuter rail, Metro Rail, and Metro Bus system into one large modern and covered complex the size of a large shopping mall. But for the last few years, all it's been is talk. They did some things, like shut down part of a parking garage, did a hell of a lot of noisy construction work and demolition, and said it would open up again until 2009, but then they reopened it in 2007. They changed a lot of the brink sidewalk to concrete, like they would put something there, but then didn't.

Well, something must have gone though, the check cleared or something, because the last few months has brought fences, covered signs, new crosswalks, repaving, and they actually installed real bus terminals. Some of them right in front of our building, which will be NO fun at all. We got the security announcement today that the move of the old Metro bus terminals will be moved to their new locations starting the end of this month. Which means our little chunk of side streets will be clogged with buses for the next few years while they build this... thing. My walk to work will probably have me go through construction, possibly even reroute me to inconvenient and dark alleys to get to work. People who rely on the various parking garages around here will be dealing with bus traffic passing by the narrow exits at a scale that worries me.

I have seen a few deaths in the almost four years I have worked here. All but one were caused by a bus. While I am sure 99% of the Metro, Ride-On, and Van-Go bus drivers are wonderful, alert, and safe people... a few are not. I have seen some near misses, car accidents, and as I said a few people who, given the amount of blood in the street and wheel well, probably didn't survive the impact. I see drivers turn right while looking to the left while talking on cell phones a lot. I am sure this will more than double.

The logo for this change is a penguin, shown above. That's because Silver Spring's mascot is a penguin for reasons that elude me. A few crosswalks have pictures of two adults, two kids, and a penguin silhouette. We had a "artist paints penguin statues" thing a while ago. But this logo looks like it was done by an art student in junior high who maybe thought penguins could fly. But to me it looked like a penguin didn't so much fly, and was tossed into a pane of glass, which it will slide down with a squeaky noise.

This, actually, is how I feel the SSTC is going.
Tags: maryland, silver spring, sstc
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