Smack dab in the middle of Takoma Park, two major roads intersect forming what is referred to as the Takoma Junction. It’s where State Highway 410 cuts through this quaint little town so Prince George’s County residents can commute to Downtown Silver Spring.
As the population has grown in and around the city, the Junction has become more congested than ever, causing residents extreme frustration.
Pedestrians must cross up to three streets to get to the other side, as several crossing guard sherpas guide them through dangerous terrain. Drivers sit idle for long periods of time in frustration after just missing a green light due to Prius drivers slowing down to inflate fuel efficiency stats. Store owners struggle to find parking spaces for patrons who live within walking distance.
“It’s where dreams go to die,” Ward 3 resident Howie Foley stated bluntly.
With the clock ticking for the Takoma Junction Development to arrive, city officials have been looking for ways to improve this intersection to make it safer for pedestrians, more efficient for vehicles, and less political so weekly city council hearings can adjourn before midnight.
Enter the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA).
The MDOT SHA is a force to be feared. They’ve been known to widen roads, wiping out houses and trees. They are skilled in Eminent Domain takeovers, leaving homeowners out in the streets. They also have the ear of Governor Larry Hogan, who would prefer to see Takoma Park leveled and turned into a giant fast food drive-thru incubator. “Maybe now, President Trump can host a fancy banquet in Maryland for one of our championship teams,” stated Hogan.
However, in an effort to pretend to care, MDOT SHA proposed the creation of a neighborhood advisory panel called the Takoma Junction Vision Study, to allow local residents and business owners to provide their concerns and feedback.
Over 18,000 people applied to be on the Vision Study, more than the entire population of Takoma Park. This caused a long delay in the selection process resulting in many sleepless nights and elevated levels of anxiety for a city always on edge.
“My fingers are raw from chewing on my nails so much,” stated Doris Walters. “I cant sleep. I cant eat. I just stare at my AOL email account waiting for their acceptance letter.”
MDOT SHA Vision Study Manager, Kandese Holford, sent out the first round of rejection letters this past week. Residents were not pleased.
“I’m not sure why my application wasn’t the most qualified out of everybody,” explained Jim Myers. “After all, I’m always in front of the Co-Op leading every protest. Everybody knows me here.”
Many highly educated urban planners, engineers, and architects were also rejected in the first round leading to more confusion on what the criteria MDOT SHA is looking for. Holford explained that they weren’t necessarily looking for the most knowledgable people on the matter. “We want folks who represent a broad swath of the general population,” stated Holford. “That means agreeing with our vision that a multi-lane highway is needed right through Takoma Park.”
With final selection notices already delayed four days, city residents are increasingly getting more unsettled. One resident, determined to find out who remains on the list, created a Vision Study March Madness Bracket. All 18,467 applicants were listed and seeded based on education, activism participation, and number of times they’ve spoken at city council hearings about the Junction Development.
“We’re down to the Sweet 16!” exclaimed Roger Solomon, creator of the bracket. “All of the top seeds have been eliminated long ago. It could be anybody at this point.”