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Woodmont Avenue Not Quite Ready To Reopen

by Aaron Kraut | August 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm | 475 views | 4 Comments

Woodmont Avenue at Bethesda Avenue wasn’t quite ready to be reopened Friday after a nearly two-year construction closure.

In September 2012, Montgomery County closed Woodmont Avenue between Bethesda and Miller Avenues to allow construction of a four-level underground garage, part of which is under the roadway. 

The parking garage includes 970 public parking spaces to be operated by Montgomery County as the new Lot 31. Bethesda-based developer StonebridgeCarras built the new garage, a condominium building and apartment building on the former site of Lot 31, a popular parking lot for patrons of Bethesda Row.

Signs say the stretch of road will reopen “on or about” Friday. Officials hope to have the underground garage opened and ready for use by Dec. 1.

As of 1:30 p.m. Friday, the road was still closed.

The 970 public spaces will be separated by a gate from the roughly 300 spaces that will be reserved for residents and guests of the apartment and condo buildings. StonebridgeCarras hopes to have those finished by May 2015.

There is no apparent pedestrian access yet on the stretch of road, which has been paved and marked.

The StonebridgeCarras project will include a pedestrian cut-thru and plaza from Woodmont Avenue to the Capital Crescent Trail, which runs between the future apartment building and Ourisman Honda dealership.

Delays Possible During Repaving Of Connecticut Avenue

by Aaron Kraut | August 14, 2014 at 12:50 pm | 170 views | No Comments

State Highway Administration (file photo)Beginning Friday night, State Highway Administration contractors will start a milling and repaving project that could mean noise and traffic delays on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase.

Starting at 8 p.m. Friday, crews will work all day and night until 5 a.m. on Monday, then resume grinding away existing asphalt at 8 p.m. each night Monday through Thursday.

The all day and night weekend work will then resume on Friday, Aug. 22 until 5 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25.

Weather permitting, the contractors will work along northbound Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase between this Friday and Thursday, Aug. 21 and along southbound Connecticut Avenue between Friday, Aug. 22 and Thursday, Aug. 28.

Residents should expect noise levels to be higher than is normal during the work hours. Local traffic delays are also expected during this period since there will be rolling lane closures during the work hours. Traffic entering or existing from Village roadways will not be affected, except when the milling operations cross each intersection.

Once all milling operations are complete, SHA contractors will begin to repave the roadway after the Labor Day holiday, though exact dates aren’t yet known.

TRAFFIC: Accident Closes Down Multiple Lanes Of I-270

by Aaron Kraut | August 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm | 1,278 views | No Comments

Photo via TrafficLand.com(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Three lanes of northbound I-270 and one lane of southbound I-270 were closed Wednesday afternoon after a multi-vehicle accident.

According to the fire and rescue scanner, a dump truck full of sand overturned on northbound I-270 near the Montrose Road exit. The driver of the truck was reported to be pinned.

The State Highway Administration has lifted all HOV restrictions to help relieve congestion caused by the crash, which still has some lanes closed.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

UPDATED: Trash Truck Fire On I-270 In Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | August 6, 2014 at 9:45 am | 212 views | No Comments

Trash truck fire on southbound I-270 near Old Georgetown Road, via Pete Piringer

(Update 12:10 a.m.) A trash truck fire Wednesday morning on southbound I-270 at Old Georgetown Road led to the closure of a few highway lanes.

Firefighters responded to the scene at about 9:40 a.m. The truck, stopped in the far right shoulder, appeared on traffic cameras just in front of a large pile of debris that was on fire.

According to MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer, the trash truck operator dumped the trash that was on fire inside the truck.

All lanes are now open after the State Highway Administration helped clean up the pile of trash and debris. Firefighters quickly put out most of the blaze and checked for fire inside the trash truck.

Photo via Pete Piringer

Emergency Lane Closure In Chevy Chase

by Aaron Kraut | August 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm | 328 views | No Comments

Via Google MapsEmergency repairs on an underground cable mean one lane of a short stretch of Wisconsin Avenue will be closed this week.

Verizon needs to repair a cable along northbound Wisconsin Avenue between Dorset Avenue and Grafton Street. The State Highway Administration has granted Verizon permission to work 24 hours a day until the work is completed.

According to a notification from Chevy Chase Village, workers will be working in two, 12-hour shifts and should be finished by Saturday, Aug. 9.

County officials are advising those who use the three-lane road to factor in some extra time, especially during rush hour.

Via Google Maps

Cedar Lane Reopens In Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | August 4, 2014 at 8:05 am | 555 views | 1 Comment

Cedar Lane east of Rockville Pike is open again after just less than two months of construction to add two new lanes and realign a culvert for a stream running underneath.

The State Highway Administration closed Cedar Lane from the Pike to Elmhirst Parkway on June 6 and said crews hoped to have work done before the first day of the 2014-2015 MCPS school year.

After applying new pavement markings and adjusting traffic signals over the weekend, the SHA was able to open the section of road a few weeks before that, though the area is still a construction zone.

Eastbound Cedar Lane from Rockville Pike to Elmhirst Parkway is down to one lane and will be as the SHA continues to work.

“While the road will now be open to vehicular traffic, the 1000-foot section of Cedar Lane near MD 355 is still an active work zone,” wrote Montgomery County BRAC Coordinator Phil Alperson in an email.

The $13.8 million project is part of a series of federally funded road improvements to ease congestion around Naval Support Activity Bethesda (home of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) and NIH.

“Continuing construction activity may require sidewalk closures on this section of Cedar Lane through late 2014,” Alperson wrote. “Sidewalk users may be directed to safe crossings within the work zone via orange construction signs, cones, barrels and fencing.”

There was pedestrian and bicyclist access on the north side of Cedar Lane on Monday. Fencing and more construction meant no crossing of Cedar Lane on the east side of the intersection with Rockville Pike.

More road work and construction of a new athletics complex at Stone Ridge School has much of the south side of the stretch of road shut down to pedestrians.

Bethesda’s Woodmont Avenue To Reopen In 2 Weeks

by Aaron Kraut | August 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm | 822 views | 8 Comments

Woodmont Avenue to reopen on Friday, Aug. 15

After almost two years of construction, it’ll be just another two weeks until Woodmont Avenue at Bethesda Avenue is reopened.

An electronic sign at Woodmont Avenue and Montgomery Lane carries the news that the section of roadway in one of Bethesda’s busiest spots will reopen on Friday, Aug. 15. That’s a week before officials involved in the development of the Lot 31 project had hoped for.

StonebridgeCarras Principal Jane Mahaffie said crews and the county hoped to have the section of road between Bethesda Avenue and Miller Avenue reopened by Friday, Aug. 22, the weekend before the first day of the 2014-2015 county school year.

StonebridgeCarras and Montgomery County partnered on the redevelopment project of the former Lot 31, a surface parking lot just across the street from the heart of Bethesda Row.

In September 2012, the county closed the section of Woodmont Avenue to allow construction of a four-level underground garage, part of which is under the roadway. The parking garage includes 970 public parking spaces to be operated by Montgomery County as the new Lot 31.

Those spaces will be separated by a gate from the roughly 300 spaces that will be reserved for residents and guests of the apartment and condo buildings that Stonebridge Carras hopes to have finished by May 2015.

Officials hope to have the garage opened and ready for use by Dec. 1.

Obama Walter Reed Visit Means Traffic Delays Tuesday

by Aaron Kraut | July 29, 2014 at 4:10 pm | 412 views | No Comments

Rockville Pike in front of WRNMMC/NSAB, photo via TrafficLand.comPolice briefly stopped all traffic in front of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center just after 4 p.m. Tuesday as a security precaution for President Barack Obama’s visit.

The president was scheduled to arrive in Bethesda at 3:10 p.m. But he reportedly didn’t leave the White House (via Marine One) until shortly before 4 p.m.

All lanes were reopened at about 4:10 p.m.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

SHA To Finish Bradley Boulevard Pedestrian Crosswalk This Weekend

by Aaron Kraut | July 24, 2014 at 9:30 am | 188 views | 1 Comment

Bradley Boulevard (file photo)The State Highway Administration is in the final stretch of a project that will bring a flashing light pedestrian crosswalk to Bradley Boulevard.

Beginning Friday at 7 p.m., SHA’s contractor for the work will begin the final paving for the project at Bradley Boulevard and Strathmore Street in Chevy Chase. Weather permitting, the removal of the top layer of asphalt, resurfacing and painting of new pavement markings should be done by noon on Sunday.

Parking restrictions may be in effect during the work and the SHA wants neighbors to know the work can be loud and disruptive. The resurfacing will mean a single lane closure, possibly in both directions throughout the weekend.

More than 22,000 vehicles use the section of Bradley Boulevard a day, which is also a popular pedestrian crossing spot for those traveling from apartments and condos to downtown Bethesda.

The $425,000 project includes the installation of a flashing signal for pedestrians wishing to cross Bradley Boulevard and the installation of a median.

The SHA contractor for the project is D.C.-based Fort Meyer Construction.

Many Want Bethesda’s One-Way Streets To Be A Thing Of The Past

by Aaron Kraut | July 22, 2014 at 9:05 am | 823 views | 26 Comments

Downtown Bethesda's one-way street network, via Google Maps

A trip through downtown Bethesda’s core of one-way streets can throw drivers for a loop, especially if you miss your destination and have to go around again.

To a growing group of residents and business owners, the downtown’s system of one-way streets — which includes a rare couplet made up of eastbound-only Montgomery Avenue and westbound-only East-West Highway — is outdated and hurting the area’s retail scene.

With the rewrite of the area’s master plan ongoing, the local Citizens Advisory Board will likely send a letter to County Executive Isiah Leggett and the County Council asking that they study or consider the possibility of making those one-way streets go two-way.

The Board, organized by Montgomery County’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, is made up of residents and business representatives, many who have been active participants in the Bethesda Downtown Plan. They see the Plan, which must be approved by the Planning Board before it’s approved by the County Council, as an opportunity to take on the one-way street issue.

“It seems like we’re at an inflection point with Park and Planning looking at the future downtown Bethesda,” said Citizens Advisory Board Chair Jad Donohoe, who’s also a vice president at the Donohoe Development Company. “I thought it would be useful to get something in their hands that would speak to that one particular issue. They’d have backing from a community group.”

That community backing could come in handy in front of the County Council, but also in front of the State Highway Administration.

The state agency is in charge of some of the sections of one-way road identified in the letter, including Old Georgetown Road (from Commerce Lane to Woodmont Avenue). The SHA is known for its focus on moving cars, which means reluctance to change road patterns, road widths or add traffic signals if the moves risk slowing traffic down.

Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, told the Advisory Board the one-way street network might be one of the reasons why the Bethesda Metro Plaza space has been a failure.

The space, just above the Bethesda Metro station and next to the Hyatt hotel space, was envisioned as the town center of downtown Bethesda in the last county master plan (completed in 1994).

There was an ice skating rink that never gained traction. Attempts at retail space didn’t quite work and now the plaza along one-way Old Georgetown Road serves primarily as a pass-thru for Metro commuters.

Meanwhile, the busiest retail and restaurant sections of Bethesda are a few blocks to either side of the Metro station at Bethesda Row and in Woodmont Triangle.

Hartman also said he often gets complaints from people who say the one-way streets of Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue lead them to miss the county parking garage used for the Regional Services Center — the county government’s hub in downtown Bethesda.

“The one-way streets are a source of increased speed and confusion. Many people who try to reach this facility, if you miss the left turn into this garage you have to go all the way around again,” Hartman said. “For us, and we’re a government office, that’s a problem.”

The letter from the Advisory Board — which will likely be approved by a majority of the group and sent this summer — also asks for consideration of two-way streets along Woodmont Avenue (from Old Georgetown Road to Hampden Lane), Montgomery Lane (from Woodmont Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue), North Lane (from Woodmont Avenue to East Lane) and East Lane (from North Lane to Montgomery Lane).

Photo via Google Maps

MCFRS: At Least 4 Hurt In Crash On Old Georgetown Road

by Aaron Kraut | July 18, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 1,214 views | 4 Comments

Photo via TrafficLand.comA multi-vehicle accident on Old Georgetown Road Friday left at least four people injured and some lanes closed.

MCFRS responded to the scene, at the southbound Old Georgetown Road ramp to the outer loop of the Beltway, at about 4 p.m.

Units are extricating one patient from a vehicle and have transported three additional patients to area hospitals.

Expect heavy delays.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

Resurfacing Means Lane Closures In Heart Of Downtown Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | July 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm | 486 views | 3 Comments

Southbound Wisconsin Avenue traffic (file photo)Beginning Sunday night, the State Highway Administration will begin closing lanes of Wisconsin Avenue for resurfacing work in downtown Bethesda.

SHA crews and contractors have completed median work and utility relocations for new traffic signals along the stretch of road from Bradley Lane to Old Georgetown Road. Now the agency and its resurfacing contractor are ready to put down a new layer of smooth pavement.

SHA will take off the top layer of pavement, patch, resurface all traffic lanes and add new pavement markings to the roadway, which could mean the closure of up to two lanes of the three-lane road overnight, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The project is expected to be complete by late fall, weather permitting.

Additional work to pour and set concrete foundations for new traffic signal poles, sidewalks and ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps could mean the closure of one lane of traffic in both directions on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

SHA began the $2.5 million project last summer. The state says more than 45,000 vehicles use the section of Wisconsin Avenue each day, which has led to deteriorated pavement.

Gas Prices, Number Of Travelers Expected To Increase This Weekend

by Aaron Kraut | July 3, 2014 at 3:05 pm | 63 views | No Comments

Traffic near the intersection of Cedar Lane and Rockville Pike, Flickr photo by thisisbossiFor the first time since 2001, more than one million Washington area residents are expected to head out of town for the July 4 holiday — according to a forecast from AAA Mid-Atlantic.

This will happen as gas prices reach an Independence Day price point not seen since the summer of 2008. Today’s national average gas price is about $3.68 per gallon, 20 cents more than the average on July 4, 2013.

Still, AAA Mid-Atlantic projects 1,002,200 people in the Washington metro area will travel 50 miles or more from home this weekend, a 2 percent increase from the roughly 983,000 people who got out of town last year.

Most of those travelers will travel by car (86.7 percent, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.)

Why the uptick?

“Last year, political gridlock in Washington, D.C. had area residents second guessing themselves on whether to take a summer trip for the Independence Day holiday, but this year is a different story,” AAA Mid-Atlantic’s John Townsend said.

That national July 4 holiday travel projection is also about 2 percent more than last year.

For those sticking around Bethesda and Chevy Chase, check out various celebrations and fireworks displays scheduled for nearby.

Flickr photo by thisisbossi

UPDATED: Overturned Vehicle On Beltway Has Lanes Blocked

by Aaron Kraut | June 26, 2014 at 6:00 am | 337 views | No Comments

Photos via TrafficLand.com Photos via TrafficLand.com

(Update at 6:07 a.m.) A crash involving an overturned vehicle had two lanes of the Beltway outer loop blocked on Thursday morning.

The incident has been moved to the right shoulder and all lanes are now open, according to WTOP Traffic.

The collision happened on the outer loop just before the River Road exit. Two left lanes were blocked.

The incident caused back-ups for about two-and-a-half miles.

Photos via TrafficLand.com

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