SILVER SPRING — A historic railroad bridge that served as a lifeline for a segregated African-American community just outside the nation’s capital is being torn down to make way for a light-rail line, and now the community will be deprived of a northern exit in the process.
Residents of Lyttonsville, founded in 1853 by a free black laborer, have long tried to preserve the Talbot Avenue bridge, which was closed last year after failing a safety inspection. During the segregation era, Lyttonsville’s streets remained unpaved long after surrounding communities where white people lived enjoyed improvements. Walking over the freight rail bridge was their only way to reach buses that would take them to the restaurants and stores that served black people, in places where they could work but not live.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Montgomery County officials and the Maryland Transit Administration agreed to save a few steel girders from bridge and use them as decoration along an adjacent recreation trail.
Now these residents are concerned for other reasons: The state initially required contractor Purple Line Transit Partners to keep another road bridge open during construction expected to last at least six months, but now that bridge will be closed as well. That would leave Lyttonsville without a northern exit to reach several highways and other areas, and possibly force traffic to be rerouted through the neighborhood’s narrow streets.