Residents debate Ourisman Bethesda's trail improvement plan

BETHESDA, Md. - Another trail-related issue has popped up in Montgomery County, this time, along Bethesda’s Capital Crescent Trail.
 
This Ourisman Honda dealership has been in downtown Bethesda for years, but it recently ran afoul of residents with the construction of a new, three-story garage that would tower over part of the popular Capital Crescent Trail.
 
"I am very discouraged by seeing that,” said Bethesda resident Amanda Farber. “I am very disappointed in how the trail was treated and the approach to basically everything that has happened."
 
Last November, a work stop order was given to the dealership, and Ourisman Honda faced a difficult decision on how to proceed.
 
Ourisman Honda had the option of taking the whole situation to court, but instead, they offered an olive branch in the form of $1.3 million worth of trail upgrades and improvements.
 
In return for permission to finish their work, Ourisman would want to add a mesh screen, making the expansion more visually appealing.
 
They would also widen the Capital Crescent Trail itself and build a new plaza near Bethesda Row.
 
But residents pushed back, still nervous about the thousands of commuters who rely on the trail as it is.
 
"I am worried about very limited recreation and commuter space,” said Vice President, Huntington Terrace Citizens Association, Kate Mackimustern. “It is significantly reduced traffic congestion in getting downtown, because we now do have so many commuting bicycles.
 
Several officials, including Montgomery County Deputy Director for Transportation Policy Chris Conklin, were present to hear these arguments following Tuesday night’s public hearing.
 
The transportation department will forward its own recommendations about the proposal to County Executive Ike Leggett and the county council for the final decision.

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