Crime a concern for ICC neighbors
Tanglewood residents say proposed bike tunnel will bring robberies to area
Residents of the Silver Spring neighborhood of Tanglewood know the Intercounty Connector is coming, but a proposed ICC bike tunnel near Briggs Chaney Road is something they're willing to fight.
A bike tunnel will likely bring more crime, said Bob McFadden, president of the Tanglewood Homeowner's Recreation Association, the body that oversees the 820 homes in the neighborhood.
"Kids are going to be breaking out the lights," he said. "Someone is going to get hurt and someone is going to be robbed."
In addition to the 80-foot bike tunnel, the association is also asking the State Highway Administration for taller retaining walls to block out the noise from the ICC, said McFadden, who wants the area surrounded by retaining walls.
Contract C of the ICC, scheduled for completion in 2013, is being constructed near Tanglewood. The ICC would connect Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg with Interstate 95 at Laurel. The total cost of the six-lane toll highway, divided into five contracts spanning Montgomery and Prince George's counties, is $2.4 billion.
Contract C, which spans the Burtonsville and Fairland areas, is about 25 percent complete, said ICC spokesman Ray Feldmann at the March meeting of the East County Citizens Advisory Board. Contract C Engineer Bob Farley gave a similar figure in January.
McFadden, who lives in an area of Tanglewood closest to the construction site near Briggs Chaney Road and Route 29, said he literally feels the ICC – the construction shakes his house.
"On one occasion my house has felt like an earthquake," he said. "It literally goes boom.'"
Despite the disruption, McFadden said ICC officials have done well hearing the association's concerns: "Ray [Feldmann] has a good job communicating to us," he said.
Dave Evans, a member of the association's board of directors and participant in Tanglewood's Community Watch program, agreed that a bike tunnel would result in more crime. A positive aspect of the ICC construction, he said, is that robberies that once took place in the woods near Briggs Chaney no longer occur because the trees have been cleared. But new problems have arisen since the clearing, Evans said – more deer have been spotted in Tanglewood.
While Evans said a bike tunnel could bring more crime, Tanglewood would likely be spared any crime spikes since the tunnel is in Briggs Chaney, he said. But other residents may not be as a fortunate, he said.
"You might as well build [criminals] a fort," Evans said. "We're concerned for the general area that someone is going to get hurt."
ICC officials have allowed Tanglewood residents to submit any plans that they feel would be better than the bike tunnel, Evans said.
In addition to the proposed tunnel, Tanglewood residents are concerned how the ICC will affect home values. The concern may grow, McFadden said, if other stages of the ICC aren't completed in time and the overall project is prolonged.
But Bill Strassberger, Tanglewood resident and parliamentarian for the East County Citizens Advisory Board, said he's doesn't think home values will drop due to the ICC. The area is too popular with homebuyers, he said.
"Houses in Tanglewood generally don't stay that long," Strassberger said.
But Strassberger, who isn't as close to the construction as some his neighbors, said he feels bad for residents who bought their homes long before plans for the ICC were made.
"If I knew what the alignment would be, I wouldn't have bought one of those houses," he said.