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by BethesdaNow.com — February 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm 0

 The Metro Board Finance and Administration Committee today endorsed a new entrance at the Medical Center station that it says will support increased ridership from employees at the expanded Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Metro is one of the entities involved in a $68 million, federally-funded pedestrian tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue that will help Metro riders who now must cross busy Rockville Pike to get to the Medical Center gate on the east side of the road.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation will build the tunnel, with construction expected to start in 2014 and last two years. Prior to Walter Reed’s move to the Navy National Medical Center in 2011, there were 3,000 pedestrian crossings at the crosswalk per day. That number is expected to increase to 7,000 per day, according to Montgomery County BRAC coordinator Phil Alperson.

Four new escalators and two new elevators will provide access to the tunnel from the street level on the west side of Rockville Pike. The tunnel will be just beneath the street. On the east side of the street, three high-speed elevators will connect the pedestrian tunnel to the station platform 120 feet below ground.

Metro general manager and CEO Richard Sarles said the two new escalators will also be key as an alternative to enter the station when Metro replaces the existing escalators in the next few years.

“The new entrance and pedestrian tunnel will make it easier and safer for pedestrians traveling between the station and the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,” Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles said in a statement. “The project has the added benefit of providing redundancy to the existing station entrance escalators, which will be replaced in the coming years. I want to express our gratitude to Senators Mikulski and Cardin, Representative Van Hollen, Montgomery County Executive Legget, and Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner for their support of this improvement.”

Image via Montgomery County Department of Transportation

by BethesdaNow.com — February 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm 0

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board will discuss the controversial Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, get a crime update from MCP Bethesda District commander Capt. Dave Falcinelli and a presentation from the Coalition for Smarter Growth when it meets Tuesday night.

The advisory board is made up of residents from Bethesda, Chevy Chase, North Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville and other areas. The Board issues advisory letters to county policymakers on a variety of issues including land use, which could make its discussion of Chevy Chase Lake particularly interesting.

A coalition of residents, many in a group known as the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, oppose some of the density and height recommendations made by the Montgomery County Planning Board for redevelopment of strip shopping centers in Chevy Chase Lake. Many against the Planning Board recommendations made their case to Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) at a town hall meeting last month.

Berliner and the rest of the Council will hear from all parties at a public hearing set for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, then decide how the final Sector Plan should look. The Advisory Board’s discussion might lead to another opinion on the issue.

Falcinelli will also present, as well as representatives from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a D.C.-based nonprofit joining the push for transportation funding to help build transit projects such as the Purple Line light rail.

The Advisory Board meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane) and is open to all.

Image via Montgomery County Planning Department

by BethesdaNow.com — February 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm 0

Police say three downtown offices were burglarized earlier this month and they have scant info on a suspect in one of the incidents:

A commercial office burglary occurred at 7735 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda on Friday, 2/1 between 5:45 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.  Forced entry; property taken.

Suspect: B/M, black clothing, gloves.

Two commercial office burglaries occurred at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda overnight from Monday, 2/4 to Tuesday, 2/5.  Two office suites were entered forcibly; property taken.

The rest of the most recent Bethesda District crime summary is after the jump. It includes a spate of residential and attempted vehicle thefts from last week one one Chevy Chase street.

(more…)

by BethesdaNow.com — February 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) dropped by Rockville on Monday for lunch with the Montgomery County Council, where much of the hour-long meeting focused on the looming federal government sequester.

Mikulski said she realized the effect across-the-board spending cuts and furloughs of federal workers could have on the county, home to 17 agencies, 32,000 employees and the many contracting firms that work with those agencies. There has been little recent movement on avoiding the sequester on Capitol Hill.

“If the federal government catches a cold, Montgomery County could catch pneumonia,” Mikulski said. The sequester kicks in on March 1.

Mikulski also told the council members “this county is the incubator of American innovation.”

For video of the entire meeting, visit MyMCMedia.

Video via MyMCMedia

by BethesdaNow.com — February 14, 2013 at 11:05 am 0

Most of Montgomery County government will be closed in observance of Presidents’ Day on Monday, Feb. 18.

County offices, schools, libraries and liquor stores will be closed as well as Montgomery County Public Schools administrative offices and state offices and courts.

Parking at public garages, lots and curbside meters will be free and trash and recycling collection provided on Monday will be provided on Tuesday. Collection will be provided one day later for the remainder of the week, ending on Saturday, Feb. 23. The county’s transfer station and dump in Gaithersburg will be open.

Metrobus will operate on a Saturday schedule with supplemental service, Metrorail on a Saturday Holiday schedule.

The TRiPS Commuter Store in Friendship Heights will be closed.

For holiday operating schedules of Montgomery Parks facilities, including Cabin John Regional, visit MontgomeryParks.org.

by BethesdaNow.com — February 14, 2013 at 10:25 am 0

Chevy Chase-based developer JBG on Thursday morning got preliminary approval of its plan for a 17-story, 475-unit apartment building at 7900 Wisconsin Avenue, which would feature a pedestrian walk-thru that would connect Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues and include about 20,000-square-feet of retail.

JBG and New-York-based architect FX Fowle focused much of their presentation to the Montgomery County Planning Board on the walk-thru, which would provide a grassy area and public space underneath the building.

The ceiling of the building above would be built with reflective material. Architect Dan Kaplan told the Board the group imagines a unique public space with “kids looking up at themselves,” and special lighting used at night.

JBG attorney Steve Robins told the Board “the creativity of this project, the talent of JBG, FX Fowle, has impressed me quite a bit.”

Planning Staff got one e-mail about the project, from a group of residents at the nearby Fairmont Plaza condos concerned about construction issues. Planner Elza Hisel-McCoy said JBG will work with the group as the project moves toward construction.

JBG will required to pay a high school school facility payment required for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster. Planning Staff is also asking JBG to pay for “Bethesda Red” brick on a small section of Wisconsin Avenue sidewalk just south of the site that doesn’t have it. That will depend on whether the property owner grants JBG permission.

The project will now enter the site plan process.

Rendering via Montgomery County Planning Department

by BethesdaNow.com — February 14, 2013 at 8:45 am 0

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Coming Along — The much-anticipated venue, taking over the space of the historic Bethesda Theater, is set to open March 1. [Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club via Twitter]

Six More Weeks Of Blasting At Lot 31 — The contractor working on the underground garage and apartment project at the former site of Lot 31 expects six more weeks of excavation blasting. Most blasts occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]

County Council Members Spent Thousands On Food In 2012 — Council members recently took part in the SNAP Challenge, living off $5 worth of food for five days to raise awareness of poverty and those who get assistance through the SNAP program. In 2012, the Council spent thousands on lunches for meetings with state politicians and for other events. Lunch with Sen. Ben Cardin (D) cost $266, $26.60 per person for the nine council members and Cardin. [The Gazette]

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