Metrobus service will be restored on all routes at 7 a.m., but WMATA officials are warning of some route adjustments and delays.
Metrobus will operate under a moderate snow service plan, which means snow detours will be used to keep buses off hilly streets, narrow side streets and other problem areas. Get detailed maps here.
Montgomery County government is open Tuesday with liberal leave in effect for non-essential employees. The federal government offices are open with a 2-hour delayed arrival.
As you’ve probably heard, MCPS has closed school for the second straight day Tuesday.
Montgomery County snow removal operations have not yet reached many neighborhood streets. Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, said crews hope to have snow removed by Tuesday afternoon:
Schools closed again Tues. County DOT expects to have neighborhood streets plowed by afternoon.
— Ken Hartman (@kenatwork) March 4, 2014
Beach Drive has been reopened but remains closed at East-West Highway (the intersection of East-West and Jones Mill Road) in Chevy Chase because of ice.
Also, here’s your obligatory reminder to be careful because of that ice. Near-record low temperatures overnight mean plenty is leftover on roadways and sidewalks.
Flickr photo by Bill in DC
A poll commissioned by two pro-bus rapid transit groups shows 71 percent of likely Montgomery County voters support a BRT system, while 22 percent oppose it.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth and Communities for Transit commissioned the poll of 400 Montgomery County residents by D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.
Pollsters twice asked whether poll takers supported or opposed bus rapid transit in Montgomery County — once at the start of the poll and once after presenting some of the issues.
In November, the County Council approved a controversial master plan for a bus rapid transit network that will allow transportation planners to study and design 10 BRT corridors throughout the county. About 78 percent of those corridors would include a dedicated lane for buses, meaning a lane reserved for transit and cut off from regular traffic.
In congested areas such as Rockville Pike, that could mean taking a lane of regular traffic away. That prospect concerned many who testified against the master plan at the Planning Board and County Council.
But in the poll, 78 percent agreed that BRT “promotes the right kind of development by supporting walkable communities with mixed residential & commercial spaces along major commercial corridors like Rockville Pike.”
The survey was conducted Jan. 22 and Jan. 23. According to pollsters, 70 percent supported BRT at the beginning of the survey and 71 percent supported it after they were asked about some issues surrounding the network.
The highest rated argument for the BRT plan was its relatively cheap cost compared to other transit options. Eighty percent agreed that BRT is the most affordable option.
According to the poll, 63 percent believe mass transit — not new roads — will provide the greatest relief to traffic congestion in the county, while 32 percent disagree with that opinion.
Still, opinions on taking a lane of regular traffic away for BRT use weren’t as one-sided. Those surveyed were split 50/50, with 200 folks saying taking of lanes would make car traffic worse and 200 folks saying it wouldn’t or they aren’t sure.
Read the full results of the survey in the PDF below.
PDF: Mason-Dixon BRT Memo
The noticeable construction work on Cedar Lane at Rockville Pike is leading up to a complete closure of the road that will last most of summer.
Christopher Bishop, community liaison for the State Highway Administration, told the Walter Reed BRAC Integration Committee on Tuesday that Cedar Lane will be shut down sometime around the first week of June until August.
As part of a group of federally funded intersection improvement projects around the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the SHA is creating a dedicated turn lane on Cedar Lane east of Rockville Pike and realigning a culvert for the creek that runs under the road.
Bishop said the work going on now is to divert that stream. Outreach materials are undergoing final review and the SHA hopes to have a website with regular updates on the project up soon.
Cedar Lane is a major access point to Rockville Pike for commuters to and from WRNMMC and NIH.
A Montgomery County project to replace the 74-year-old Elmhirst Parkway Bridge over the same creek is scheduled to begin in the summer too. County and state officials are coordinating efforts to make sure that closure doesn’t affect the Cedar Lane closure at the intersection.
Richard Levine, from the Locust Hill Citizens Association, said he’d actually prefer if both projects overlapped. Levine said he’s worried about the potential for neighborhood cut-thru traffic when that section of Cedar Lane is closed.
Bishop said the SHA is aware of the Aug. 25 opening date for the 2014-2015 MCPS school year, which typically brings more traffic on area roadways.
(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) With the temperature reaching 60 degrees in the next few days, Montgomery County is making a push to fill potholes from last week’s winter weather with extra equipment and hot mix asphalt.
The hot mix asphalt is more durable, according to county officials, but can only be poured in warmer temperatures.
With more cold predicted for next week, the county’s Department of Transportation is acting now to repair the most potholes it can.
“While we welcome the warm weather, it does accelerate pothole formation. That’s why our Division of Highway Services crews are out in full force to ensure that our roads are in decent shape before another storm hits,” Leggett said. “I want to thank our staff for their tireless efforts to keep the roads clear of ice and snow and for all they do to repair and maintain our transportation infrastructure.”
In the above video from Montgomery Community Media, MCDOT supervisor Louis Machetto explains how a crew is dealing with a large pothole on Rolston Road, near Greentree Road and Bradley Hills Elementary.
Machetto said that particular pothole is a 60-ton project and requires permanent repair. Water and ince got under the road and is pushing mud up through the hole. A crew applied a base and top layer of asphalt.
MCDOT repairs potholes on 5,000 lane miles of county-maintained every day of the year, except during rain and snow events. The State Highway Administration is responsible for potholes on major state routes.
MCDOT is asking for residents to report potholes on county roads by calling the 311 call center or 240-777-0311. It’s also asking driver to be cautious and patient when they see crews filling potholes.
Video via Montgomery Community Media
After nearly two years of planning and contentious public meetings, the State Highway Administration is ready to start its 0.7-mile, $1.1 million sidewalk project on a section of Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase.
On Wednesday at the Chevy Chase Village Hall, state road officials presented the final design for the project along the so-called “Green Mile,” the stretch of Wisconsin Avenue that connects Friendship Heights with downtown Bethesda.
The sidewalk will go along the northbound side of the road, a stretch on the backside of a county club that includes four bus stops and worn dirt paths intertwined with trees. Construction will start in mid- to late-March and last about three months. The SHA won’t finish new tree plantings until the fall.
With the start of construction quickly approaching and a contractor already selected, the final design SHA officials presented Wednesday wasn’t up for debate.
That didn’t stop attendees at the meeting.
Some began arguing with each other as SHA officials, accustomed to taking the brunt of the criticism, attempted to keep the meeting on track.
The presentation wasn’t as contentious as a similar one last year, though it was clear some residents still don’t want the sidewalk because of the loss of trees and what they claimed was a lack of pedestrian need.
One woman who said she regularly uses Ride On’s Wisconsin Avenue route said she never sees riders get off at any of the Green Mile bus stops. Sidewalk supporters promptly pointed out that might be because there is no sidewalk or crossing there.
The accident happened around 5:30 p.m. on Friday and left one adult with serious injuries and child with injuries. Both were rushed to area hospitals, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services. All in the vehicle were taken to local hospitals.
MCFRS is being assisted by a mass casualty unit from Fairfax County and says the Maryland State Police will conduct the accident investigation:
IL495/River Rd – MCFRS has transported 11 patients.1 adult trauma, 1 pediatric trauma. 9 pediatric patients (age 5 – 12) to area hosp 1 of 2
— MontgomeryCo(MD)Fire (@mcfrs) February 14, 2014
Photo via TrafficLand.com
Montgomery County Transportation Engineering chief Bruce Johnston said Councilmember Roger Berliner, who introduced the bill with Councilmember Hans Riemer, has agreed to a multi-agency working group that would examine the issue.
County transportation officials hope to avoid a blanket approach to building new streets. The bill would require travel lanes in urban areas to be 10 feet wide and institute maximum 15-foot requirements for turning radii.
Johnston talked about the working group on Tuesday, as he introduced the Chapman Avenue Extended project to the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee. Chapman Avenue is set to include 12-foot wide lanes.
“In certain instances when you have large vehicles and a heavy amount of vehicles turning, you’re going to end up putting people on that 15-foot radius waiting to walk across and that large vehicle is going to be trying to drive right over where they’re standing,” Johnston said. “We don’t like that mix.”
Johnston said the group will look at other urban areas and he cited Boston’s Complete Streets policy for intersection design as an example.
“In an urban area, where you might have a large van, like a 40-foot truck, or a bus turning all the time, you’ve got to be able to accommodate that with some frequency,” Johnston said.
Johnston said the county “stumbled into the right way to do it,” in a Germantown development, where a large 30-foot turning radius allows large trucks to make deliveries to a grocery store just half-a-block away from a 15-foot radius that’s more conducive to pedestrians.
MCDOT has been the target of criticism from supporters of redevelopment in White Flint, which includes a new street grid around Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard.
Developers and pedestrian safety advocates testified in support of the bill last month. But not all who spoke were in favor.
Ron Welke, a retired veteran transportation planner with MCDOT and M-NCPPC, said intersections and road designers shouldn’t be constrained to a one-size-fits-all approach.
“It is not appropriate to legislate traffic engineering design elements such as maximum target speeds, maximum curb radii and maximum lane widths in urban areas. Specific conditions relating to each situation must be taken into account before a decision is made and that is the job of professionals,” Welke testified. “A balance must be reached between the competing and often conflicting roles of safety and mobility of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit vehicles in an urban environment.”
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Reader Brian Detwiler said he was a bit startled by these two deep utility trenches left uncovered on Wisconsin Avenue.
Detwiler took the photos at 9:30 a.m., after the morning rush. The trenches run across the southbound lanes of Wisconsin Avenue on both sides of its intersection with Leland Street.
“There is virtually no warning, except for some barely noticeable cones, and nobody is working to fix them,” Detwiler said.
David Buck, spokesperson for the State Highway Administration, said crews were on the site Thursday night between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. installing conduit across Wisconsin Avenue. Buck said crew members finished the work very close to 5 a.m., when they had to be off the road. The eight-inch gap is not preferred, but was an emergency measure in order to keep the lanes open through morning rush hour.
“We felt it was safe to open the travel lanes for morning rush hour but did want to go in today and fill in the gap after traffic was lighter.” Buck said.
Buck said the gap was too small for a steel plate and a concrete truck is filling it Friday afternoon. The filling should be done between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
The conduit is part of the SHA’s $2.2 million safety and resurfacing project on Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.
The conduit will go to revamped traffic signals between Old Georgetown Road and Bradley Boulevard and is one of a few tasks SHA crews can get done during the cold winter months. Crews must wait until the temperature warms for resurfacing.
The project is scheduled to finish in fall 2014.
Photos via Brian Detwiler
(Updated 10:30 a.m.) A pedestrian was struck near Connecticut Avenue and Raymond Street at about 10 a.m. Thursday.
The response closed all lanes of northbound Connecticut Avenue near Bradley Lane through Chevy Chase. At 10:30 a.m., MCFRS units cleared out and police reopened two of three lanes.
According to scanner traffic, the pedestrian was thrown a few feet by the car at a low-speed impact and is now being taken to Suburban Hospital. The victim is fully conscious with a bruise to the forehead and leg pain.
Photos via TrafficLand.com
UPDATE 10:30 p.m. All southbound lanes of Wisconsin Avenue between Woodmont Avenue and Battery Lane have been reopened.
UPDATE 6:15 p.m. A water main break has southbound Wisconsin Avenue closed tonight, though WSSC said repairs have progressed quickly enough that the road should be open for the morning rush hour Wednesday.
The break, between Battery Lane and Woodmont Avenue, was reported to WSSC a little before noon. The road buckled and continued to get worse until police shut down all three lanes at 12:40 p.m. All traffic is being diverted on to Woodmont Avenue.
Diverted traffic can travel on Woodmont Avenue to Battery Lane. Make a left to get back to southbound Wisconsin Avenue.
WSSC said the circle break is in an 8-inch main, one of 69 breaks that WSSC had to fix on Tuesday.
Pedestrian safety activists, transit boosters and White Flint developers joined Thursday to testify in support of a County Council bill that would change Montgomery’s road standards to limit the width of streets and set lower speed limits in urban areas.
Most who spoke at the public hearing in front of the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee were fans of the legislation, proposed by Councilmembers Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase) and Hans Riemer (D-At large).
Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Art Holmes, speaking on behalf of County Executive Isiah Leggett, said the executive branch “endorses the goals” of the bill but does hope for some flexibility that would allow room for bigger transit, emergency and service vehicles.
MCDOT has been the target of recent criticism from supporters of redevelopment in White Flint, which includes a new street grid around Old Georgetown Road and Executive Boulevard.
Evan Goldman, development vice president for Federal Realty, said his company has seen the pedestrian-unfriendly impacts of the area’s six-lane roads. Federal Realty is building Pike & Rose at the old Mid-Pike Plaza, bordered by Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike.
“Little things like curb radii and street lane widths are huge. It really makes a difference for a street that can have retail and is pleasant to be on and a street that doesn’t,” Goldman said. “If you think about your trips, whenever you visit a city or go to a cool town, you’re not going to Tysons for a vacation. You don’t go to Irvine, California for a vacation. You go to Chicago and Boston and San Francisco, Miami, London, Annapolis and Frederick, these great places that are walkable and it’s fun because you can walk anywhere. These cities somehow figure out how to thrive with lane widths that are smaller and curb radii that are smaller.”
Francine Waters, managing director of Lerner Enterprises, also testified that the new White Flint depends on roads that don’t scare away pedestrians. Lerner is planning to tear down its White Flint Mall and build a mixed-use, town square-centered development, one of many projects envisioned in the 2010 White Flint Sector Plan.
“These amendments to the road code are one step closer to facilitating the realization of that vision,” Waters said.
Not all were in favor of making the proposed changes standard. The bill would limit the width of travel lanes and many turning lanes to 10 feet in urban areas. Each parking lane on an urban road would be limited to eight feet. Target speeds, which are typically the same as the posted speed limit, would be reduced to 25 miles per hour.
UPDATE 10:30 a.m. Montgomery County Police will open two of three southbound lanes soon at Rockville Pike and Edson Lane. The three northbound lanes are open.
ORIGINAL Expect delays on Rockville Pike Friday because of a major water main break near White Flint Mall.
The break in a 16-inch pipe was reported in the 11200 block of Rockville Pike around 4 a.m. on Friday.
All southbound lanes are closed and some northbound lanes are closed just south of the Mall, causing significant traffic problems on nearby roads such as Tuckerman Lane and Edson Lane.
County crews are spreading salt to deal with water that has frozen on both sides of the roadway.
Updated at 4:15 p.m. A bus reportedly struck a pedestrian in the Rockville Pike crosswalk in front of the Medical Metro station on Thursday afternoon.
The incident, apparently involving a Ride On bus, happened around 3:45 p.m. in the intersection of Rockville Pike and South Drive, in the crosswalk connecting the Metro station to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center.
No word on the nature of the collision or if there were any injuries, but at least one lane southbound was blocked off at 4:05 p.m.
Photo via TrafficLand.com
Both directions of Massachusetts Avenue at Sangamore Road are closed on Thursday morning after a car collided with a Pepco utility pole.
The accident happened around 10:20 a.m. in the southbound lane, bringing a pole and wires down. The driver appears to be uninjured.
The road will be shut down until Pepco crews can come and repair the downed wires.