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by Aaron Kraut — September 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm 225 0

The 2-hour parking limit on Friendship Boulevard isn't enforced, but could be if parking meters are added

Curbside parking meters may be coming to three roads in the Friendship Heights section of Chevy Chase.

Ken Hartman, Montgomery County government’s point person in Bethesda, outlined a preliminary plan for the meters along Wisconsin Avenue, Friendship Boulevard and Willard Avenue during a monthly advisory board meeting on Monday.

Hartman and a representative of the property owner that asked for the meters gave a long list of reasons for the proposal — including pedestrian safety, boosting the finances of the local Transportation Management District and preventing the type of robberies that have happened in the area’s ultra-pricey shopping areas.

On Tuesday, a Department of Transportation spokesperson said specific locations, hours and rates are still under consideration, though Hartman said the meters would operate much like the ones in downtown Bethesda.

DOT spokesperson Esther Bowring said the department isn’t yet sure if meters will be installed or how many would be put in. There is no timeline for installation yet and Hartman is looking for comments regarding the proposal.

Hartman said the current plan is to put meters on the west side of Friendship Boulevard, between Western Avenue and Willard Avenue, on the south side of Willard Avenue, between Friendship Boulevard and North Park Avenue and on both sides of Wisconsin Avenue between Somerset Terrace and Wisconsin Circle.

The Friendship Boulevard and Willard Avenue meters would allow up to four hours of parking. The Wisconsin Avenue meters would allow for up to two hours of parking. The meters would run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, except nobody would be allowed to park at the Wisconsin Avenue meters during rush hour periods.

The meters would cost $2 per hour, the same as in downtown Bethesda.

The Chevy Chase Land Company, which owns most of the retail property on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights, asked for the county to consider parking meters on the street in a letter last year.

Miti Figueredo, vice president of public affairs at the Land Company, said on Monday the idea sprouted from conversations with security guards after the April 2013 smash-and-grab at the Cartier store (5471 Wisconsin Ave.).

Proposed locations of curbside parking meters in Friendship Heights, via Google MapsAccording to Figueredo, the security guards (many who operate in stores as off-duty police officers) said one reason the stores are a target was because thieves can easily pull up to the curb, steal items and drive off.

“It makes it really easy for people to just block that travel lane and run directly into the store,” Figueredo said. “We started thinking about it more broadly, and thought about how meters might also improve pedestrian safety. One of the easiest and most low-cost things you can do to improve pedestrian safety is to lower the speed of traffic on Wisconsin Avenue.”

Figueredo also said the Land Company is interested in the idea because curbside parking meters typically mean more customer turnover in those parking spots.

Hartman said the installation of meters could encourage Montgomery County to fund enforcement. There are currently no streetside meters in Friendship Heights. Despite a number of curbside parking zones with two-hour limits, those limits aren’t enforced.

“Putting meters along these roads would essentially be a reason for them to contract with enforcement folks,” Hartman said. “Technically, if somebody’s lucky enough they can park all day in Friendship Heights for free.”

It would also mean some revenue for the Friendship Heights Transportation Management District, a group that encourages the use of transit and alternative commuting options. It’s not yet clear how much revenue would be generated.

Among the issues Hartman identified with the proposal were the frequent medical drop-offs on the southbound side of Wisconsin Avenue. It’s common for drivers to drop off and pick up elderly clients of a medical office on Wisconsin Avenue. By law, those drivers are allowed to park in front of the building for up to 15 minutes with their flashers on.

Hartman said the county is looking at carving out sufficient space so those drop-offs can continue.

Map via Google Maps

by Aaron Kraut — September 8, 2014 at 10:00 am 515 0

Photo via TrafficLand.comA pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on northbound Old Georgetown Road near Walter Johnson High School on Monday.

MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer tweeted that fire and rescue personnel responded to the scene just after 9:45 a.m.

All three northbound through lanes of Old Georgetown Road at Rock Spring Drive were closed for the MCFRS response.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

by Aaron Kraut — September 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm 0

Newly repaved Connecticut Avenue at East West Highway, via TrafficLand.comThe emergency repaving job along Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase will continue overnight into Thursday morning.

According to Chevy Chase Village, State Highway contractors will resume repaving Chevy Chase Circle and side street intersections along Connecticut Avenue at about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

This time, the work won’t extend into the morning rush hour. Instead, it’s set to run to 5 a.m. on Thursday and Friday, weather permitting.

A week ago, State Highway Administration officials said crews milled off the top two inches of asphalt and found the road base pavement “to be in an advanced state of deterioration.” That meant the crews had to pour a stronger mix of asphalt in a shorter time period, leading to lane closures in the middle of some morning and afternoon rush hour periods.

The work that resumes tonight will be a lot less disruptive, but high noise levels and rolling lane closures are still expected.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

by Aaron Kraut — September 3, 2014 at 10:00 am 0

Cedar Lane culvert construction, via J.D. Mack

(Update at 4:35 p.m.) Cedar Lane at Rockville Pike reopened almost a month ago, but the construction continues at the heavily traveled intersection.

Because of it, Ride On’s Route 34 from Friendship Heights to Aspen Hill (with stops in Bethesda and Wheaton), will detour onto Jones Bridge Road until further notice.

The Route 34 from Bethesda and Chevy Chase typically runs along Cedar Lane before turning onto southbound Rockville Pike. But ongoing construction of lane improvements and a culvert for a stream that runs below the road mean cramped lanes and tight spaces.

The route will also use Beach Drive to get to and from Connecticut Avenue. The Route 34 trip toward Bethesda and Friendship Heights will maintain its Cedar Lane route.

Call MC311 with any questions.

Photo via J.D. Mack

by Aaron Kraut — August 29, 2014 at 12:55 pm 0

Photo via TrafficLand.comAll lanes of southbound I-270 between Old Georgetown Road and the Capital Beltway were closed at about 12:40 p.m. on Friday because of an accident.

According to the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination Program, all lanes were reopened just before 1 p.m.

The accident caused a backup of almost two miles. Montgomery County Emergency Management has advised Alert Montgomery subscribers to find an alternate route.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

by Aaron Kraut — August 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm 0

Southbound Connecticut Avenue is now down to one lane at East-West Highway, via TrafficLand.om All three northbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue are open Thursday afternoon, via TrafficLand.om

There’s some good news Thursday afternoon for commuters regarding the emergency paving going on along Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase.

State Highway Administration contractors have finished paving all three northbound lanes of the road from East-West Highway to Bradley Lane and all three lanes are open for the time being.

The crews have moved their paving work over to the southbound lanes, where just one lane was open as of 3 p.m. Thursday.

In case you missed it, the SHA announced Wednesday that worse than expected road conditions meant a weeks-long paving operation had to be condensed into just this week. The change and all-day work that accompanied it meant rare lane closures during rush hour periods.

The work is expected to continue through Saturday night, weather permitting, so stay tuned for other closures.

Photos via TrafficLand.com

by Aaron Kraut — August 27, 2014 at 11:55 am 498 5 Comments

Connecticut Avenue backed up at Chevy Chase Circle Wednesday morning, via TrafficLand.com Paved lane on northbound Connecticut Avenue at East-West Highway, via TrafficLand.com

Emergency paving work on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase means multiple lanes will be closed throughout the rest of the week, even during rush hour periods.

The State Highway Administration began a planned resurfacing project of Connecticut Avenue between Chevy Chase Circle and East-West Highway two weeks ago. On Wednesday, officials said crews milled off the top two inches of asphalt and found the road base pavement “to be in an advanced state of deterioration.”

This meant crews had to ditch the asphalt they originally planned to use in favor of a stronger mix to offset the deterioration.

On Tuesday night, crews got to work paving a lane on northbound Connecticut Avenue. The authorization for all-day work meant a huge traffic jam at Western Avenue and Chevy Chase Circle during the Wednesday morning rush hour. Crews must also use two lanes to pave each lane of road.

SHA officials say the rest of the week is going to be just as bad, as the paving work will continue all day (even during rush hour):

Crews expect to complete paving along northbound MD 185 late Thursday and immediately cross over ontosouthbound MD 185 Thursday night or early Friday morning.  All six lanes on this section of MD 185 are expected to be paved by Saturday night, weather permitting.  With two northbound MD 185 lanes expected to be closed today and tomorrow during the afternoon rush hours and two southbound MD 185 lanes expected to be closed for theFriday morning rush hour, traffic is expected to be severely impacted and  motorists should consider MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) or other alternate routes.

More than 46,000 vehicles use the 1.5-mile section of Connecticut Avenue each day, according to SHA. The paving project was originally announced at a $2.5 million cost.

Photos via TrafficLand.com

by Aaron Kraut — August 26, 2014 at 11:30 am 967 10 Comments

Top 10 most congested intersections in Montgomery County, via Planning Department 2014 Mobility Assessment Report

By one commonly used metric, the three most congested intersections in Montgomery County are all in Bethesda and North Bethesda.

It’s probably not a surprise to the many who travel Rockville Pike each day that leading the pack is the intersection of Rockville Pike and Cedar Lane, according to data collected and compiled by the county’s Planning Department in its biennial Mobility Assessment Report.

The report uses traffic count data gathered at major intersections to measure critical lane volumes (CLVs). The higher the CLV, the worse the congestion. It’s important to know the planning department doesn’t get updated CLV counts for each reporting period, though it did get a November 2013 count at Rockville Pike and Cedar Lane that showed a morning rush hour peak CLV of 1,957.

That’s good for most congested intersection in the county. More important to planners and policy makers, it far surpasses the intersection standard of 1,600 CLV.

The count, of course, came before a major intersection improvement project that added turning and thru lanes on Cedar Lane to improve traffic flow.

The No. 2 most congested intersection according to the report was at Rockville Pike and Nicholson Lane, with a peak CLV of 1,929. The standard for that intersection is 1,550. No. 3 was Old Georgetown Road at Democracy Boulevard, with a peak CLV of 1,923. That’s an improvement for the intersection, which was the No. 1 most congested in the last Mobility Report, though neither State Highway nor consultants have been able to do a CLV count there since 2009.

Not far behind the terrible traffic trio is Connecticut Avenue at East-West Highway, which comes in at No. 6 with a peak CLV of 1,848. That count was also made in November 2013 and planners say the Chevy Chase intersection is only getting worse.

“In the 2011 report, this location was ranked the 15th most congested; today it is ranked as the sixth most congested. As a down-County area, Connecticut Avenue in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Policy area consistently has one or more intersections ranked in the top 25 most congested. SHA’s improvements here were implemented several years ago. The future Purple Line transitway could alleviate congestion at this intersection,” planners wrote.

Despite the presence of four of the county’s top-six most congested intersections, Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda don’t seem to experience more traffic problems than any other particular part of the county. Of the 50 most congested intersections ranked in the report, 12 are in areas known as Bethesda, Chevy Chase or North Bethesda/White Flint.

By another metric — the amount by which intersection congestion surpasses intersection standards — many of the worst intersections in the county are in Rockville and Gaithersburg.

Other findings in the Mobility Report include some bicycle counts. Planners said they weren’t surprised to find Bethesda had the most observable bike trips. According to a similar ranking of bike counts per intersection, 17 of the top 19 most popular spots for bicyclists were in Bethesda, many on the same bicycle routes in downtown Bethesda and around NIH and Suburban Hospital.

The most heavily-traveled Metrobus routes included the J1, J2 and J3 routes that go from Westfield Montgomery mall to Silver Spring via the Bethesda Metro station.

And the Bethesda Metro station once again had one of the highest average weekday ridership numbers of all Metro stations in Montgomery County, along with the stations at Silver Spring, Shady Grove and Friendship Heights.

by Aaron Kraut — August 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm 504 6 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.

by Aaron Kraut — August 14, 2014 at 12:50 pm 194 0

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.

by Aaron Kraut — August 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm 1,284 0

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

by Aaron Kraut — August 6, 2014 at 9:45 am 212 0

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

by Aaron Kraut — August 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm 328 0

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

by Aaron Kraut — August 4, 2014 at 8:05 am 555 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.

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