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Wheaton Green Streets Efforts Expand

Green Streets Initiatives are expanding in and around Wheaton.

During the past year, the Parks, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Transportation have made progress in implementing their Green Streets initiatives in Wheaton communities. 

One highly visible DEP/DOT initiative is the Green Streets projects along Dennis Avenue.  Green streets are roads that use specially engineered vegetated areas designed to capture and spread out stormwater runoff (called Low Impact Development (LID) practices).  The polluted and often hot stormwater runoff then soaks into the ground where it is cleansed and cooled down as it filters through microbe-filled soil.  So instead of rushing off Dennis Ave and damaging Sligo Creek’s stream banks, the rain water will enter Sligo Creek slowly as cool, clean ground water.  

Mark Wilcox, the DEP Project Manager for the project, explained that the Dennis Ave. Green Streets project is one of the joint DEP/Dept. of Transportation (DOT) pilot projects that are being used to demonstrate the feasibility of fast tracking green street projects in the county. The stormwater management practices along Dennis Avenue are designed to manage the runoff from 40 acres of land (of which 12 acres are hard, impervious surfaces like roads, roofs and driveways).  

Outreach and education of the surrounding community are important components of this initiative.  Earlier this year, the surrounding community had an opportunity to learn about the green streets project and to ask questions and comment on what is being proposed.  Unlike the earlier and larger DEP stormwater management projects, which required a lengthy and expensive permit review cycle, these projects will be smaller scale and implemented in close collaboration with DOT.  The Dennis Ave project includes the use of tree boxes, bioretention systems, swale curb extensions, and a series of step pools. 

In addition to the DOT/DEP projects, the county Parks staffs have been working on reducing the environmental impacts of roads too.  Nearby, Sligo Creek Parkway is being modified to reduce the amount of hard road surfaces along Sligo Creek.  At Colt Terrace Local Park near Arcola Elementary School, the park staff is installing a bio-swale to manage and clean up the stormwater runoff from Colt Terrace.  Both of these projects are but two of several they are working on to help restore Sligo Creek and the Anacostia River. The County’s 5 year Stormwater Permit (the permit is required by the Clean Water Act) requires that Montgomery County install stormwater management practices to treat runoff from 20% of the county’s hard impervious surfaces.   

DEP is working out the details for a Maintenance Plan for the green street projects.  So far green street projects have been installed on Arcola Ave. and in the Forest Estates community.  This fall, if all goes well, DEP is also planning green streets projects on Amherst Ave. and additional projects on Arcola Ave near the Wheaton Library.  Below are some useful links if you are interested in learning more about these innovative projects:

The Dennis Ave. Health Center has examples of tree boxes and bioretention systems.  Click here to see what they look like and how bioretention systems are built http://www.fosc.org/SWMap5.htm 

If you are interested in what happens to the stormwater runoff from the Wheaton CBD, see link http://www.fosc.org/SWMap7.htm  about the stormwater ponds off Dennis Ave. which capture most of the runoff from the Wheaton Central Business District. 

Link about the Forest Estates green street projects: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/dep/downloads/LIDRetrofitForestEstatesFactSheet9-2011.pdf

Link on the Amherst/Arcola Ave green streets projects: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/dep/downloads/ArcolaAmherstFactSheet.pd

Green Streets are part of a larger effort to restore our streams and improve our communities.  On July 17, Friends of Sligo Creek will hold a program meeting on Greening Suburban Towns & Houses of Worship.  A representative from DEP will attend to talk about its Green Streets initiative.  Hear how the town of Forest Heights, MD. uses innovative green strategies to help restore the Oxon Run watershed and how Silver Spring houses of worship are being encouraged to do the same.  The meeting will be held in the Silver Spring Civic Building.



 

 


 
 

  

  


 
 

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Ed Murtagh July 16, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I am more familiar with the east side of Georgia Ave, which is roughly the Anacostia River watershed side. There is an extensive effort in the county to restore the Anacosita watershed. On the East side of GA there are some major efforts planned for Wheaton Woods community which is part of Turkey Branch watershed (next to yours I think) which has had extensive restoration work. There is also work planned for the Ken Gar community. I am not aware of any focused efforts in the Wheaton-Claridge Park area or St. Joseph's Branch.
Anonymous July 17, 2012 at 03:06 PM
This is the biggest waste of money! When the state is pleading poverty and claims to have no money, these idiots are digging up the curbs to put in cement bordered "flower beds". Who is going to maintain all of the plants and shrubs that are planted along Arcola Avenue in Kemp Mill, as they are rapidly growing and prohibiting the view from individual's pulling out of their driveways? It seems like everytime I turn around, this state is spending more money on "saving the bay and the watersheds" and taxing us half to death. I love the bay as much as the next person, but this is getting to be ridiculous!
Ed Murtagh July 17, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Anonymous (I wish you would use your real name!) this is a county road not and state road. The plants are being maintained by the county (managing stormwater costs money, Stormwater ponds are very expensive to dredge out, so I don't think the cost of maintaining the rain gardens is that much more.) As for blocking the view of driveways - they plants and shrubs are much lower than vehicles that park along the road so that is not an issue either since I have never heard anyone suggest that eliminate parking along roads. The plants selected will not grow high and I pull out of a driveway next to one of these gardens frequently and have never had a problem.
Kathleen Michels October 28, 2012 at 10:15 PM
More initiatives to try to roll back the damage we do to our precious water resources. Thank you MoCo Dept of Transportation and Dept of Environmental Protection! The ones on Arcola are beautiful. In response to anonymous. In the long run PREVENTING damage is much cheaper than trying to clean it up. Just because we as a species have developed our built environment thoughtlessly doesn't mean we shouldn't try to fix our old errors now. There have been many offers to "adopt" a bioretention project, similar to the adopt a road program. As a long time neighbor to conservation landscapes we have not problem with site lines and if we do it is easy to fix- plants unlike buildings can be cut back.
Kathleen Michels October 28, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I also liked the video. Nicely done!

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