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Press Releases - County Council

Council Approves Bill Sponsored by Councilmember Friedson to Limit Closures of Public Rights-of-Way and Protect Pedestrian Safety and Quality of Life

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 24, 2020—Today the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed Bill 38-19, Streets and Roads – Permit to Obstruct Public Rights-of-Way – Amendments, which limits the closure of sidewalks adjacent to construction sites and requires the County to create standards for maintaining pedestrian access. 

Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who represents District 1, was the lead sponsor. Council President Sidney Katz, Council Vice President Tom Hucker and Councilmembers Evan Glass, Will Jawando, Hans Riemer, Gabe Albornoz and Craig Rice are cosponsors.

“Thank you to my colleagues for recognizing the need to make maintaining pedestrian and bicyclist access around construction sites the default, not the exception,” Councilmember Friedson said. “This legislation makes clear that we view safe pedestrian and bicyclist access not as a luxury, but as an essential part of our transportation infrastructure. I look forward to reviewing the required executive regulation that will put these rules for preserving pedestrian and bicyclist access into place.” 

Bill 38-19 does the following:

  • requires the County Executive to draft a regulation for permits to close sidewalks in the public right-of-way limit the closure to the minimum time necessary;
  • requires the Department of Permitting Services to regularly review right-of-way permits to determine if the permittee must immediately reopen the sidewalk or begin to provide a safe alternative path on the same side of the street – such as a covered walkway or protected pathway in a parking lane or curb lane;
  • specifies the standards a permittee must meet to demonstrate that maintaining pedestrian access is an extreme hardship; and
  • requires the County to publish right-of-way permit applications and permits online.

Maintaining pedestrian access is critical to the safety and quality of life of the community and is something Councilmember Friedson has focused on since taking office. In December 2018, on his second full day as the Councilmember for District 1, he led a walking tour of downtown Bethesda during which closed sidewalks were a major concern. He has continued working with residents, local businesses, the Department of Permitting Services, the Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, and other stakeholders to address these issues.

The Council staff report for the enactment of Bill 38-19 can be viewed here:

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Release ID: 20-110
Media Contact: Cindy Gibson 240-777-7928