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by Aaron Kraut — January 28, 2015 at 11:45 am 169 5 Comments

River Road and Western Avenue in Bethesda/Friendship Heights, via Google Maps

The underground utility work that has been driving some River Road drivers crazy over the last few months will soon transition to Western Avenue.

It’s part of Pepco’s project to install 6,500 feet of new underground transmission pipes in the area. Pepco says the work will improve reliability of electrical service to residents and commercial property owners.

It has led to a number of daytime lane closures on River Road and complaints from residents about limited access to adjacent neighborhoods. Drivers have also complained about potholes, bumps and uneven pavement resulting from the underground work.

Pepco crews will begin installing pipe and manholes along Western Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue, then underground cable, according to an e-newsletter from the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

The Western Avenue work, including the restoration of the road, is scheduled to be finished by April. Completion of the work on other segments of the project may take another year and the schedule could change because of weather or “operating constraints.”

Via Google Maps

by Aaron Kraut — January 23, 2015 at 6:45 am 470 6 Comments

Updated at 2:35 p.m. – The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission says a River Road water main break is repaired and the road should reopen by the afternoon rush hour.

Traffic was diverted around River Road between Western Avenue and Little Falls Parkway for much of Friday. All northbound traffic was being directed to Wisconsin Avenue and southbound traffic to Massachusetts Avenue, according to WSSC.

Just before 2:30 p.m, WSSC said the pipe was back in service and the intersection should be cleared and open within the hour:

WSSC crews were on the scene starting Friday morning making repairs to the 8-inch pipe. The repairs also had Willard Avenue closed at River Road.

Metro said its T2 bus to Rockville had to take a detour at Western Avenue and resume the route at Goldsboro Road and River Road:

Via @ABC7Bri

by Aaron Kraut — January 16, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,446 0

Cedar Lane/Rockville Pike culvert project, via J.D. Mack

Updated Jan. 23 – The new traffic pattern for a busy section of Rockville Pike has been postponed until at least mid-February.

Last week, road signs said the changes could happen on or about Jan. 21 in order to allow work on a new stream culvert under the road. State Highway Administration spokesperson David Buck said the agency found out today (Jan. 23) that the lane shift will have to wait.

The SHA recently widened the road just north of Cedar Lane and removed a concrete median to allow for the shift.

Southbound Rockville Pike traffic will shift to the right. Northbound Rockville Pike traffic will shift to the left. Three through lanes in both directions will always be open during peak hours.

The area affected by coming traffic pattern changes, via Google MapsOnce the lane shift goes into effect, the SHA will begin replacing the culvert under the northbound side of Rockville Pike.

In the late spring or early summer, the SHA expects to shift traffic again as a second phase of culvert work starts under the middle of the road. Northbound traffic will move back to the right and southbound traffic will remain where it was during the first phase.

Buck said there will be a third phase a few months after that during which crews will replace the culvert on the southbound side of Rockville Pike. Southbound traffic lanes will shift back to the east.

The changes, if carried out as previously planned, will include the opening of the new Rockville Pike entrance to the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. The existing Rockville Pike entrance to the school will be closed.

Buck said the $11.9 million culvert replacement project is almost half done. In August 2014, the SHA reopened Cedar Lane east of Rockville Pike ahead of schedule after realigning a culvert under that road.

The SHA will send out a news release about a week to 10 days before it’s ready to make the lane shift.

Correction, 3:45 p.m. – A previous version of this story incorrectly reported a new entrance to the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart would be opening on Cedar Lane and an existing Cedar Lane entrance to the school would be closing. The new entrance to the school will open on Rockville Pike, not Cedar Lane. It will replace the school’s existing Rockville Pike entrance.

Photos via J.D. Mack, Google Maps

by Aaron Kraut — January 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm 213 0

Updated at 5:10 p.m. – Another winter storm could impact yet another morning rush hour on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service is predicting about an inch of snow from 4 a.m. to the late morning hours in central and southeast Montgomery County. The NWS issued a Winter Weather Advisory from 4 a.m. to noon Wednesday:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO NOON EST WEDNESDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO NOON EST WEDNESDAY.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS…AROUND ONE INCH.

* TIMING…ONSET AROUND 4 TO 6 AM…CONTINUING INTO THE LATE MORNING HOURS…BEFORE MIXING WITH PERIODS OF SLEET AND DISSIPATING BY EARLY AFTERNOON.

* TEMPERATURES…MIDDLE 20S DURING THE PREDAWN HOURS…INCREASING TO LOW 30S LATER IN THE MORNING.

* WINDS…NORTH AT 5 TO 10 MPH.

* IMPACTS…SNOW WILL LIKELY DEVELOP EARLY IN THE MORNING COMMUTE. THIS COUPLED WITH ROAD AND AIR TEMPERATURES WELL BELOW FREEZING WILL CAUSE ACCUMULATION OF SNOWFALL ON ROADWAYS. THIS WILL RESULT IN HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS.

Montgomery County will activate its Storm Operations center at 3 a.m. on Wednesday to monitor a storm that could bring an inch or two of snow and freezing rain to the area.

For the third time in a little more than a week, the State Highway Administration is asking commuters to monitor the forecast and consider delaying their morning travels.

“While roads were generally in good condition earlier this week, a difference of only one or two degrees is the difference between wet roads and hazardous icy roads,” SHA Administrator Melinda Peters said “Please take these forecasts and warnings seriously and consider delaying or canceling your travel and appointments while we take care of making the roads safe for travel.”

The SHA will again pre-treat major roads and highways with salt brine to prevent snow accumulation. But sub-freezing overnight temperatures are expected to make any precipitation freeze over on untreated surfaces.

by Aaron Kraut — January 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm 259 1 Comment

A Freezing Rain Advisory has State highway officials worried about a repeat of last Tuesday’s snow-filled and collision-heavy morning commute.

The National Weather Service is calling for less than a tenth of an inch of ice to stick in downcounty Montgomery. The Freezing Rain Advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. Sunday to 9 a.m. Monday:

…FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 9 AM EST MONDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A FREEZING RAIN ADVISORY…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 10 PM THIS EVENING TO 9 AM EST MONDAY.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…FREEZING RAIN.

* ACCUMULATIONS…LESS THAN A TENTH OF AN INCH OF ICE.

* TIMING…PRECIPITATION WILL BEGIN FROM SOUTHWEST TO NORTHEAST LATE THIS EVENING. FREEZING RAIN WILL BE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE OVERNIGHT HOURS…EVENTUALLY BECOMING PLAIN RAIN BY MONDAY MORNING.

* TEMPERATURES…IN THE LOWER 30S.

* WINDS…SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH.

* IMPACTS…A THIN GLAZE OF ICE COULD FORM ON UNTREATED ROADS…SIDEWALKS…AND VEHICLES. DUE TO THE RECENT COLD WAVES…SOME SURFACES MAY BECOME ICY EVEN WITH AN AIR TEMPERATURE SLIGHTLY ABOVE FREEZING. TYPICALLY SHADED AREAS…AS WELL AS BRIDGES…WILL BE MOST SUSCEPTIBLE TO ICING. THE MORNING COMMUTE WILL BE IMPACTED.

State Highway Administration officials are again warning motorists to avoid or delay driving on Monday morning.

“With last Tuesday’s morning rush hour storm still fresh in our memories, we’re again strongly advising motorists to avoid or delay driving Monday morning to give our crews the time and room they need to safely clear the roads,”  SHA Administrator Melinda Peters said in a Sunday afternoon press release.

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by Aaron Kraut — January 9, 2015 at 5:20 am 880 0

Updated at 6:55 p.m. – The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission says water service has been restored this evening for 91 of its customers near Thursday night’s Wilson Lane water main break.

WSSC also said the road should be reopened by late Friday after a 12-inch water main break last night.

WSSC says its crews worked all night from Thursday into Friday trying to pinpoint the location of the break in the 6700 block of Wilson Lane, just east of River Road.

At first, no customers lost water because of the break. At about noon Friday, WSSC said 91 customers were without water. WSSC had to shut off water service in the area in order to repair the 62-year-old pipe. Traffic continues to be blocked off from Wilson Lane at the River Road intersection.

Another water main break in the 4700 block of Bradley Boulevard had lanes closed on that road between Arlington Road and Wisconsin Avenue. MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer said much of the water from the break had frozen Thursday night.

Photos via WSSC

by Aaron Kraut — January 6, 2015 at 3:05 pm 341 0

Plow truck moves snow Tuesday in the parking lot at White Flint Mall along Rockville Pike

Updated at 6:15 p.m. – Montgomery County has started treating and plowing neighborhood streets and says snow removal in neighborhoods could be completed by midnight.

The county said the 3-5 inches that fell across the county was a “greater-than-predicted accumulation of snowfall.”

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation said its crews had plowed and treated all major arterial and secondary roadways.

In an evening update, the county said plowing work in neighborhoods will continue throughout Tuesday night and “is not expected to be completed until at least midnight.”

A county press release said crews will return to re-treat and re-plow major arterial routes before Wednesday morning’s rush hour. Freezing temperatures overnight are expected to lead to icy road and sidewalk conditions.

The press release also advised anyone with a neighborhood street that hasn’t been plowed by 7 a.m. Wednesday to call 311 or 240-777-0311. That information will immediately be forwarded to MCDOT’s Highway Operations crews.

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by Aaron Kraut — January 5, 2015 at 2:10 pm 358 0

State Highway Administration snow plow (file photo)The snow forecasted to hit the area on Tuesday could hit during the morning rush hour, prompting highway officials to encourage commuters to go into work later.

The National Weather Service is calling for 1-2 inches of snow before noon on Tuesday in the Maryland suburbs of D.C. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang is predicting that snow will likely start by 7 a.m.

The NWS also issued a Winter Weather Advisory for downcounty Montgomery:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO 1 PM EST TUESDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO 1 PM EST TUESDAY.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…SNOW…POSSIBLY MODERATE AT TIMES.

* ACCUMULATIONS…AROUND 1 INCH. UP TO 2 INCHES UNDER HEAVIEST BANDS.

* TIMING…LATE TONIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING INCLUDING THE MORNING TRAFFIC RUSH…HEAVIEST SNOW 6 AM TO 11 AM.

* TEMPERATURES…IN THE MID TO UPPER 20S.

* WINDS…SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH.

* IMPACTS…SNOW ACCUMULATING ON SURFACES BELOW FREEZING WILL MAKE FOR HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS.

Sub-freezing temperatures overnight could mean rapid accumulation on the roads.

The Maryland State Highway Administration said crews are pre-treating major state roads on Monday with salt brine, which slows accumulation. Still, the SHA advised commuters “to make alternate plans, such as delaying travel,” to avoid delays and make it easier for crews to remove snow.

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by Aaron Kraut — December 29, 2014 at 11:35 am 932 39 Comments

Friday afternoon rush hour traffic on Rockville Pike near NIH and Walter Reed, one of Bethesda's worst chokeholds

The acting director of Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation says the local road network “is essentially built out” and county transportation planners will focus on walkability and transit.

“I plan to take a hard look at all of MCDOT’s policies and procedures to ensure that they are consistent with our emphasis on smart growth principles,” said Al Roshdieh, who took over for retired MCDOT director Art Holmes last week.

Roshdieh made the comments in an interview published by the county a few days after some transit advocates, business leaders and bicycle boosters asked County Executive Isiah Leggett to look for “a visionary leader” to bring forth a sea change in how MCDOT operates.

“This approach is not just about focusing on Ride On or bikesharing or more sidewalks. It’s about taking a holistic view of all of MCDOT’s efforts and asking the question: How do we create the type of community that truly enhances our quality of life and how can our transportation system contribute?,” Roshdieh said.

Roshdieh officially took over last Monday. The 25-years veteran of Montgomery County’s government was MCDOT’s deputy director under Holmes.

In a press release, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Firestine credited Roshdieh with leading the county’s recent Pedestrian Safety Initiative, Capital Bikeshare rollout and planning for a Bus Rapid Transit network.

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by Aaron Kraut — December 24, 2014 at 9:00 am 314 0

The North Drive bridge, down to one lane, looking toward the NIH campus in Bethesda, via NIH

One of six Rockville Pike entrances to the National Institutes of Health’s Bethesda campus will be closed for much of 2015 starting in January.

The NIH announced it will close the North Drive entrance starting Jan. 4 in order to replace a bridge leading into the campus that has permanently damaged support beams because of years of use.

According to the agency’s Environmental Assessment for the project, the bridge is in such bad shape that one lane of the two-lane structure has been closed off to any vehicle traffic.

Campus map showing the North Drive entrance off Rockville Pike, via NIHThe North Drive entrance is one of four Rockville Pike entrances available to NIH employees. One entrance is reserved for visitors and another for commercial vehicles that must be inspected before entering the 308-acre campus.

The bridge has only been open during the morning rush hour, from 6 a.m.-10 a.m. Average daily traffic counts range from 250-300 vehicles in that span.

By completely replacing the bridge, which runs over an unnamed tributary to Rock Creek, NIH says it will be able to allow two lanes of inbound vehicle traffic each morning, making the traffic situation on southbound Rockville Pike easier in the morning.

The project is expected to be completed by October. The Wilson Drive, South Drive and Center Drive employee entrances off Rockville Pike will remain open.

Photos via NIH

by Aaron Kraut — December 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm 288 0

Water main break has Massachusetts Avenue closed north of Westmoreland Circle, via Google MapsA water main break has Massachusetts Avenue blocked in Bethesda, just north of the D.C. line.

The break has closed the road between Westmoreland Circle and Duvall Drive, according to police.

Police say drivers should avoid the area, if possible.

Image (top) via Google Maps

by Aaron Kraut — December 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm 277 0

Massachusetts Avenue closed in both directions between Little Falls Parkway and Baltimore Avenue, via Google MapsDowned power lines have a small section of Massachusetts Avenue closed down in Bethesda, according to police.

The road is closed in both directions on Wednesday afternoon between Little Falls Parkway south a few blocks to Baltimore Road.

There were no reported power outages in the area related to the downed lines, according to Pepco’s outage map.

Image via Google Maps

by Aaron Kraut — December 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm 2,726 0

Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike was closed in June 2013 as President Barack Obama visited Walter Reed. Updated at 2:50 p.m. Tuesday – Traffic on Old Georgetown Road, Rockville Pike and surrounding streets could be affected when President Barack Obama visits NIH and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Obama is visiting NIH to congratulate staff for finding a possible vaccination for the Ebola virus that has claimed more than 6,000 lives, mainly in the western Africa nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. He’s also expected to talk about other Ebola-related efforts in a speech.

He’s also set to visit wounded warriors across Rockville Pike at Walter Reed.

The NIH Office of Community Liaison said on Monday that “special events” at the campus on Tuesday “will have a considerable impact on traffic.” The notice said traffic will be affected from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. and Metrobus and Metrorail will also be affected.

According to Obama’s official schedule, he’s set to visit Walter Reed starting at 2:40 p.m., followed by a 4:20 p.m. start time for a tour of NIH’s Vaccine Research Center. Obama is scheduled to deliver his speech at 5:05 p.m., before leaving NIH for the White House at 5:55 p.m.

by Aaron Kraut — November 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm 247 3 Comments

A large water main break has Wilson Lane closed between Bradley Boulevard and Oldchester Road on Tuesday in Bethesda.

The break, to a 20-inch line along Wilson Lane near Radnor Road, was discovered on Tuesday morning.

WSSC crews on the scene had to dig up a section of the roadway to gain access to the main. A member of the crew working on the main said he thinks the road will be reopened by Tuesday evening.

But plan ahead to avoid Wilson Lane west of Bradley Boulevard on your evening commute.

by Aaron Kraut — November 21, 2014 at 9:25 am 334 1 Comment

State Highway Administration (file photo)As part of a broader improvement project for Connecticut Avenue, the State Highway Administration is set to temporarily close one ramp connecting to the Beltway on Monday, Dec. 1.

Weather permitting, crews will close the ramp from the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway to northbound Connecticut Avenue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 1. Crews are resurfacing the roadway and putting in new traffic signals on the busy northbound and southbound ramps from the Beltway to Connecticut Avenue.

It’s part of an overall $3.7 million safety and resurfacing project for Connecticut Avenue from Dupont Avenue in Kensington to the Beltway in Chevy Chase. Almost 65,000 drivers use the section of Connecticut Avenue each day.

Work began on the project this summer and the SHA says all phases should be complete by fall 2015.

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