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County Council Searches For Transportation Funding Options

by BethesdaNow.com | January 17, 2013 at 3:40 pm | 2 Comments

County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) today hosted a panel of experts at a council committee meeting to discuss creative options for funding transportation projects.

Berliner is one of many Montgomery County politicians who would like to see a state gas tax hike to help pay for projects such as the unfunded $2.1 billion Purple Line light rail system that would connect Bethesda and Chevy Chase with Silver Spring and east into Prince George’s County.

That hike may not happen, even after Berliner and Councilman George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park helped organize a statewide Transportation Summit in Annapolis late last year.

Officials from Northern Virginia, where new Beltway HOT lanes recently debuted and where WMATA’s Silver Line to Dulles Airport is close to opening, spoke about how they funded those major projects.

Arthur Guzzetti, vice president for police of the American Public Transit Association, told the committee there is no “cookie-cutter” strategy for funding major transportation projects.

“Whatever you can get the votes for is the way to go,” Guzzetti said.

Fairfax County made a $900 million contribution to the nearly $6.8 billion Silver Line by raising taxes on commercial properties that stand to benefit from the Metro’s extension to Dulles Airport, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Deborah Lipman.

The MWAA, which operates Dulles Airport, is a partner in the Silver Line project and used a passenger facility tax to fund the Silver Line station planned for the airport.

“Why aren’t we able to come up with these financing packages in what’s happening in Maryland,” asked Leventhal. “Part of the reason for that is obviously political.”

Based on the example of the Virginia HOT lanes, which are toll lanes paid for with an EZ Pass, Leventhal suggested widening the Beltway and I-270 and adding toll lanes to generate revenue for corresponding projects that would seek to take traffic off those roads.

Most decision makers in the county agree the Purple Line would help ease congestion on east to west routes such as the Beltway and a Bus Rapid Transit network could connect places such as downtown Bethesda with White Flint and Rockville.

Bethesda’s Box Bar Is Out, Dry Fried Wing Bar And Grille In

by BethesdaNow.com | January 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm | 3 Comments

The Dry Fried Wing Company is officially taking over the Box Bar & Grill (7525 Old Georgetown Rd.), the company’s first attempt to get into the Washington area franchising market.

The Florida-based group today announced it will have a 51 percent controlling interest in the bar, and will soon change the name to the DFW Bar and Grille. It will be a long way from the oft-mocked Hooters-themed restaurant that opened in the space in 2011.

The Dry Fried Wing Company will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow afternoon, complete with appearances from Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) and former Lt. Gov. and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and a solidarity salute to the surviving members of the “Wilmington Ten.”

Dry Fried Wing Company Chairman Dr. Ben Chavis, the leader of the Wilmington Ten, will be in attendance.

The restaurant will serve free Dry Fried Wings to the public from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Dr. Ben is all about entrepreneurship and economic empowerment and I am absolutely ecstatic to become a part of his DFW Team,” said George Farrell, current owner of The Box, in a press release. “It is so fitting that his final vindication and this once-in-a-lifetime celebration is taking place at the same time that his transformational company has taken a giant leap forward towards its ultimate goals. Dr. Ben has been a lifelong hero of mine and I am truly blessed to be able to be a part of this day in such a meaningful way.”

The Bethesda restaurant will also be used for mass production of Dry Fried Wing’s “DFW Sauce.”

Bethesda Store Offering Men’s Only Valentine’s Day Shopping

by BethesdaNow.com | January 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm | 2 Comments

Upscale Bethesda Row furniture store Urban Country (7117 Arlington Rd.) is hoping to make things easier for last minute male shoppers this Valentine’s Day with a “Men’s Only Valentine Shopping Spree.”

The store will extend its hours on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for guys who may not have a clue as to what to get their significant others.

The store will offer customers free beer, wine, appetizers and Valentine gift wrapping:

Helpful Urban Country sales associates will offer expertise and suggestions on selecting the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts from a variety of bath and fragrance merchandise, stunning jewelry, decorative home accessories, momentous Valentine-themed keepsakes and much more.

For more information, visit the store’s website.

Weekly Crime Report: Dec. 31 to Jan. 8

by BethesdaNow.com | January 17, 2013 at 11:15 am | 1 Comment

Police made arrests in two residential burglaries earlier this month, one that came in the Maplewood/Alta Vista neighborhood:

A residential burglary occurred in the 5100 block of Alta Vista Road, Bethesda on Tuesday, 1/8 between 10:45 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., Forced entry; property taken.

Arrested: Male, 16, from Washington, DC; Male, 15, from Washington, DC.

A residential burglary occurred in the 10400 block of Montrose Road, Potomac on Tuesday 1/8 at approximately 1:15 p.m.  Forced entry; nothing taken.

Arrested: Male, 16, from Washington, DC; Male, 15, from Washington, DC.

The rest of the most recent Bethesda District crime summary is after the jump.

(more…)

Spokesperson: Bethesda Metro Garage Project Will Improve Bus Bays

by BethesdaNow.com | January 17, 2013 at 10:00 am | 1 Comment

The company seeking approval for a garage renovation that would shut down the Bethesda Metro station bus bays for as long as two years said the project will also improve the bus facilities.

A spokesperson from Brookfield Properties, which wants to redo the private parking garage under its recently purchased Three Bethesda Metro Center office building, also said the company is working with WMATA to determine construction schedules and ways to mitigate effects on bus service.

“The Bethesda Metro Center garage project aims to repair and improve the current garage and bus station,” the spokesperson said. “We are working closely with WMATA to determine the construction schedule and mitigation plan to allay impacts to bus service during the renovation. These plans are still in progress so the phasing and the timeline have not been determined yet.”

It’s unknown what improvements would come to the bus bays.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Director Ken Hartman last week said Brookfield recently submitted its traffic mitigation plan to Montgomery County and that a two-year closure of the bus bays would be “a major hassle.”

WMATA and the county would have to find alternate locations for the buses to go. Hartman suggested the project could start later this year.

Morning Notes

by BethesdaNow.com | January 17, 2013 at 9:05 am | No Comments

B-CC Senior Among 3 Deaths In Christmas Eve Beltway Crash — Antony Benlizar, 17, his grandmother and another passenger died when their Chevy Malibu spun out on the outer loop of the Beltway near Connecticut Avenue and was hit by an oncoming vehicle. [The Gazette]

Stick To The Basics With Bus Rapid Transit — Blogger Dan Reed from Just Up The Pike says BRT advocates must focus on the system’s ability to get people where they want to go to convince skeptics of its potential worth. A BRT route has been studied for the Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike corridor. [Just Up The Pike]

Restaurants Added To Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week — Eight new restaurants have been added to Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week (Jan. 24 to Feb. 3) including Daily Grill (One Bethesda Metro Center), Grapeseed (4865 Cordell Ave.), Le Vieux Logis (7925 Old Georgetown Rd.), Oakville Grille & Wine Bar (10257 Old Georgetown Rd.) and Vino Volo (7243-7247 Woodmont Ave.). [Bethesda Urban Partnership]

NWS Now Says 1-3 Inches Of Snow Possible

by BethesdaNow.com | January 17, 2013 at 8:05 am | No Comments

After issuing a Winter Storm Warning of as much as five inches of snow for Montgomery County, the National Weather Service now says the area is under a Winter Storm Advisory, meaning one to three inches of accumulation:

… WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THIS MORNING TO 1 AM EST FRIDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW… WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM THIS MORNING TO 1 AM EST FRIDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS… 1 TO 3 INCHES.

* TIMING… OCCASIONAL RAIN THIS MORNING WILL MIX WITH AND THEN CHANGE TO SNOW EARLY THIS AFTERNOON. PERIODS OF SNOW ARE POSSIBLE IN THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EVENING. SNOW MAY BE LOCALLY HEAVY AT TIMES… ESPECIALLY SOUTH OF WASHINGTON DC. SNOW WILL COME TO AN END TONIGHT.

* TEMPERATURES… IN THE MID 30S.

* WINDS… NORTHWEST 5 TO 10 MPH.

* IMPACTS… ROADS MAY BECOME SNOW COVERED… ESPECIALLY DURING THE EVENING RUSH HOUR.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES… AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

The State Highway Administration is warning drivers to be cautious in the afternoon rush hour. SHA crews will not be able to apply salt brine to the roads before any snow because the storm will likely start as rain.

“Many commuters, especially south of Baltimore, should get into work with little difficulty, but may experience wintry conditions by Thursday afternoon’s rush hour. Each of us needs to assume the worst and have a plan,” SHA administrator Melinda B. Peters said in a press release.  “Storms during afternoon rush hours pose certain challenges because SHA snow plows are driving in rush hour traffic, making snow clearing more difficult.  If the forecast calls for snow during any commute and you want to avoid hours of traffic congestion, it is best to leave early, telecommute or stay late until the snow stops.”

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