Last September I published a post about a fence blocking access from a railroad bridge connecting the east side of Georgia Avenue with the historic B&O Railroad Station on the road’s west side. The fence had been described by novelist George Pelecanos in a 2001 book set in Silver Spring (and Northwest Washington) and it had blocked the pedestrian connection for almost 20 years.
The fence and blocked connection in September 2016.
Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large) responded to the initial post with a promise to look into the situation: “This fence is an abomination,” Riemer wrote. He pursued opening the connection by contacting the railroad station’s owner, Montgomery Preservation, Inc., and staff in the County’s Silver Spring Regional Center.
On March 9, 2017, Councilmember Riemer commented on a February Facebook update about the fence’s continued presence:
Thanks for prodding us on this. We got it fixed. According to the urban district staffer I spoke with it was the county’s responsibility and therefore the county fixed it.
Thank you Coucilmember Riemer for being persistent and for opening up this historic connection to a historic building in downtown Silver Spring.
© 2017 D.S. Rotenstein
In 1998, the historic preservation group, Montgomery Preservation, Inc. (MPI), bought the old and abandoned B&O Railroad station in Silver Spring, Maryland. A fence continues to separate the property from a popular and historic pedestrian bridge. Shortly after MPI acquired the property, novelist and Silver Spring native George Pelecanos introduced the pedestrian bridge and the railroad station to readers around the world in his 2001 novel, Right as Rain:
[Terry Quinn] crossed the street to the pedestrian bridge that spanned Georgia Avenue. He went to the middle of the bridge and looked down at the cars emerging northbound from the tunnel and the southbound cars disappearing into the same tunnel. He focused on the broken yellow lines painted on the street and the cars moving in rows between the lines. He looked north on Georgia at the street lamps haloed in the cold and watched his breath blow out into the night. He had grown up in this city, it was his, and to him it was beautiful. Sometime later he crossed the remainder of the bridge and went to the chain-link fence that had been erected in the past year. The fence prevented pedestrians from walking into the area of the train station via the bridge. He glanced around idly and climbed the fence, dropping down over its other side. Then he was in near the small commuter train station, a squat brick structure — George Pelecanos, Right as Rain (Grand Central Publishing, 2001).
Pedestrian bridge over Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring, looking south from the edge of MPI’s property. Photographed September 2016.