This story was corrected on July 13. An explanation follows.
More than four dozen trees on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase could be removed for a new sidewalk, if a project by the State Highway Administration moves forward.
The 8-foot-wide sidewalk on Wisconsin Avenue between Grafton Street and Bradley Lane would accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and disabled users, said David Buck, a spokesman for SHA. It would be approximately 0.7 miles in length.
The Chevy Chase West Neighborhood Association has been asking for a new sidewalk for several years, said association President Celesta Jurkovick. The neighborhood only can be accessed via Wisconsin Avenue, which she said can be dangerous for Metro bus users who need to cross the busy road.
Buck said a final decision will come from District No. 3 Engineer Brian Young in several months.
“We have heard from the folks who say don’t do it, but there is no reasonable alternative,” he said. “They are not offering an alternative. Clearly, we have to balance the need for safe and accessible facilities for all users of our roads, not just cars.”
The sidewalk would necessitate the removal of 53 trees, unless Chevy Chase Club, a country club located on Wisconsin Avenue, agrees to provide land for the purpose, Buck said. They have discussed the issue with Chevy Chase Club officials, he said.
An unknown number of trees would be removed, he said, as the sidewalk would encroach on the club’s forest buffer. Chevy Chase Club manager Luke O’Boyle could not be reached for comment.
Chevy Chase Village offered tentative support for the project at a meeting July 9, but expressed concern about tree removal and pedestrian safety on a path shared with fast-moving bicycles.
Some question the need for a new sidewalk. They include Sarah Morse, co-president of the Little Falls Watershed Alliance, an environmental group.
She said the environmental implications of losing 53 trees has not been adequately studied.
“Trees lower the heat index,” she said. “Some people have said to me, ‘Who is going to want to walk on that sidewalk if there isn’t any shade?’”
The sidewalk has the support of bicyclists, such as Steve Friedman of Somerset.
When traveling between Friendship Heights and Bethesda, Friedman, 44, avoids that stretch of Wisconsin Avenue for safety reasons.
The existing sidewalk is too narrow and a new facility would allow cyclists, runners and pedestrians to coexist more safely, he said.
“I think the stretch of road we are talking about here is a particular challenge to even a serious cyclist, when you are talking about high traffic volume and high traffic speed,” he said. “If I had that alternative facility, I would definitely use it.”
Although Chevy Chase West supports a sidewalk, Jurkovick said the current design has some problems, including tree loss and access to the Metro bus stops. The neighborhood association also has asked for a crosswalk, she said.
“What we have suggested is that, let’s see if we can’t be creative and come up with some way that we can work together and come up with a [sidewalk] design that will make the most people happy,” she said. “I keep calling it a work in progress and I think that is an accurate statement.”
Due to incorrect information provided by the State Highway Administration, the story wrongly implied that the proposed sidewalk was located on the west side of Wisconsin Avenue. The sidewalk is planned for the east side. A map that ran with the story also contained the error.