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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 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm 0

The Small Press Expo will be celebrating its 20th year next month at the Bethesda North Conference Center, via Small Press Expo The Small Press Expo will be celebrating its 20th year

The Small Press Expo, the annual gathering of independent comic artists, graphic novelists and web illustrators, will mark its 20th year next month in North Bethesda.

All 20 of the events have been held in Bethesda or North Bethesda. On Saturday, Sept. 13 and Sunday, Sept. 14, it will be held for the eighth time at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center (5701 Marinelli Rd.). Before that, it was held each year at the then-Holiday Inn in downtown Bethesda (now the DoubleTree).

The event, organized by the nonprofit Small Press Expo, is a chance for artists of many comic-related and graphic design genres to sell their work, gain exposure and chat with fans and other artists in an informal setting.

A number of symposia are held during the two-day festival, where artists talk about their work.

And for comic and cartoon enthusiasts, the big-name artists slated for this year’s event are in good supply.

Jules Feiffer, a Pullitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and creator of the syndicated cartoon strip “Feiffer,” will be in attendance. So will Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor for The New Yorker, cartoonist Lynda Barry, Charles Burns and Raina Telgemeier.

There will be about 700 artists at 280 tables selling their wares, plus about 20 different interviews and panel discussions.

Tickets are $15 for Saturday, $10 for Sunday and $20 for both days. For more info, visit the event website.

Photos via Small Press Expo

Fitness Wisdom: Pain and Gain?

by BethesdaNow.com Sponsor — August 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1 Comment

Fitness Wisdom

Editor’s Note: This column is sponsored by FitnessWise (4801-B Montgomery Lane). Visit their Facebook page for more.

By now you’ve learned the old adage “No Pain, No Gain” isn’t always a good motto to live by when it comes to exercise and overall health. But the phrase has been used since the second century, so there must be some truth to it, right? Here we’ll talk about the positives and negatives of a Pain and Gain philosophy.

Good Pain 

Yes, there is the “burning” sensation of an increase in lactic acid and hydrogen ions that happens inside of your muscles when you’re working at a high level. This is generally a good thing.

It means that you’re pushing your muscles beyond their comfort level, and that’s necessary to improve muscle endurance and work capacity. This is a fact. If you want to do well in a sport or activity that involves any sustained effort beyond 5-10 seconds, then you must have a good level of “lactic acid tolerance.”

Some of this tolerance is the result of physiologic adaptations that happen in your muscles and cardiovascular system through training in this “Pain”-ful zone. And some lactic acid tolerance comes from mental fortitude and being able to push past the point of muscle fatigue where others would quit. I call this being comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s a necessary quality if you’re an athlete at any level.

Another realm where pain is acceptable in exercise and fitness is in the case of DOMS. We’ve all experienced DOMS before. This happens if you haven’t worked out in a while, then hop right back into the total body conditioning class or decide to go for a three-mile run. That muscle soreness that made you not want to get up out of bed — or think twice before getting up out of a chair two days later — is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

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by Aaron Kraut — August 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm 310 3 Comments

Woodglen Drive cycle track proposal, via MCDOT

Almost a year after sharrow markings and a shared-use sidewalk were supposed to be added to Woodglen Drive in White Flint/North Bethesda, officials are proposing a cycle track that would be Montgomery County’s first use of the strategy.

In a presentation on Aug. 11 to the White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee, MCDOT’s Patricia Shepherd and Bruce Johnston outlined the project that will likely be seen as an improvement from the previous plan. (For more details on the presentation, see this post from the Friends of White Flint.)

Cycle tracks are seen as one of the most inviting pieces of bicycle infrastructure because the routes include buffers from vehicle parking and regular traffic lanes. As opposed to a marked bike lane, the cycle track won’t be close enough to a lane of parked cars to risk colliding with an opening car door.

15th Street cycle track in D.C., via MCDOTThe cycle track proposed for Woodglen Drive will run from Edson Lane, the terminus of the off-road Bethesda Trolley Trail, to Nicholson Lane.

The presentation shows two options for the continuation of the cycle track from Nicholson Lane to Marinelli Road, but that portion of the project is likely a few years off as it depends on the proposed redevelopment of the existing shopping center.

The eight-foot wide, two-way cycle track from Edson Lane to Nicholson Lane will be on the west side of Woodglen Drive and be separated from a parking lane by a two- or three-foot wide buffer area that includes plastic posts.

There would also be green-painted pavement to highlight “conflict areas,” where the cycle track crosses intersections or driveways.

Johnston and Shepherd showed photos of an existing cycle track on 15th Street in D.C. that looks very similar to the proposal.

Green zones to illustrate driveways and intersections where bicyclists might come into conflict with vehicles, via MCDOTPlanners and MCDOT will brief the Planning Board on the proposal at the Board’s meeting on Sept. 4.

The cycle track would leave Woodglen Drive with space for a seven-foot wide parking lane on the west side of the roadway, a 10-foot wide southbound travel lane, a 10-foot wide center turn lane and an 11-foot wide northbound travel lane.

There would no longer be curbside parking on the east side of the road, which runs past the Rockville Whole Foods location and North Bethesda Market development.

The cycle track would be one of a few bicycle facility improvements to come to White Flint. MCDOT added a bike lane to Marinelli Road and are considering a cycle track treatment for Nebel Street.

Images via Montgomery County Department of Transportation

by Aaron Kraut — August 28, 2014 at 11:00 am 277 2 Comments

What's In A Name, White Flint branding eventThe age-old question of what to call the place around the White Flint Metro station will be the focus of an event next month set up by the Friends of White Flint, Streetsense and the Montgomery Business Development Corporation.

The open meeting, “What’s In A Name,” comes after years of debate about whether to call the unincorporated, redeveloping area White Flint, North Bethesda, Rockville, something else or some combination of a host of suggestions.

The event is set for Thursday, Sept. 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the offices of Streetsense, the brokerage, design and development company based at 3 Bethesda Metro. 

Holly Sears Sullivan, president of the MBDC, will facilitate the conversation, which is sure to draw a variety of opinions.

Last spring, a few furious weeks of back-and-forth between the major developers reshaping the area led to a new suggestion from developer Federal Realty: the Pike District, which would contain individual neighborhoods that could keep their preferred identities — such as White Flint around the White Flint Mall property.

Many of the area’s developers (Federal Realty is building the Pike & Rose project at Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike) think the White Flint name is too closely tied to White Flint Mall. In June, a collection of some of the area’s biggest developers known as the White Flint Partnership expressed its support for the Pike District concept.

After some objections to the developer group’s lead role in the process, Federal Realty officials said they were slowing the process down and would be pursuing some type of public meeting to get opinions from a wide array of stakeholders.

Next month’s meeting appears to be one such opportunity.

Developers such as Federal Realty contend the area needs one strong, unified brand name to attract retailers and business. The White Flint Sector Plan area has been called Rockville, despite the fact the actual border to the City of Rockville is farther north on Rockville Pike. It’s also been called North Bethesda based in previous planning efforts and according to the area’s main zip code. There’s also the complicating factor of a different zip code — officially Kensington — that actually covers the land of the landmark White Flint Mall, which will be redeveloped into a massive mixed-use, town center.

The event will not address changing the name of anybody’s postal address or neighborhood.

In an email about the event to members, the nonprofit Friends of White Flint said it’s about time the place gets a name.

“For years, we’ve known that this place needs a name,” read the email. “And, we’ve believed that the community should have input into what that name would be. Our opportunity has arrived.”

RSVPs are due by Thursday, Sept. 4 to hsullivan[at]montgomerybusiness[dot]org.

by Aaron Kraut — August 28, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,342 8 Comments

Spotluck employees market the product on Cordell Avenue. On the far right is CEO Cherian Thomas and standing on the far right is CFO Bradford Sayler, via Spotluck

A new Bethesda business is trying to answer the common question of where you should eat tonight with a phone app and some big discounts.

Spotluck, the brainchild of CEO Cherian Thomas and CFO Bradford Sayler, is a phone app that allows users to take one “spin” a day of locally owned restaurants in two sections of town — Woodmont Triangle’s Cordell Avenue and Bethesda Row.

The spin will randomly select for users one restaurant and attach to it a discount that typically ranges from 10 percent to 30 percent off your final bill. The restaurants not selected in the spin will offer discounts typically about 5 percent less, and all the discounts are determined by algorithms that factor in real-time data such as the day of the week, weather conditions, the restaurant’s rating by previous Spotluck customers and other factors.

So the discounts on Monday before 6 p.m. will likely be a lot higher than the discounts on Friday after 6 p.m., when restaurants typically see more traffic and need to fill fewer tables.

If it’s pouring rain or snowing outside, the discounts will inch up. If a restaurant is getting four- or five-star ratings from Spotluck users, the discounts might go down.

It’s an all-in-one deals app, restaurant review app and reservation maker that’s unique from well-known services such as Groupon, Yelp and OpenTable in one very important way — its No. 1 focus is to entice restaurant-goers to Bethesda’s locally owned eateries.

The Cordell Avenue restaurants participating in Spotluck's "Cordell Avenue" hub, via Spotluck“We market your spot to people above you and around you,” Thomas said. “We’re not telling people in San Francisco, ‘Hey, check out La Panatteria.’ We’re telling everybody here, ‘Don’t forget about them. They’re here, they’re great and they’re local.’”

Thomas, a downtown Bethesda resident, has spent much of the last few months pitching the service to restaurants. Despite the big discounts for restaurant customers, Thomas said Spotluck’s main goal is to drum up business for the restaurant owners and managers who use the service.

Thomas said Spotluck is paid a fee by the participating restaurants based on how much business the app brings in. If a restaurant is fully booked or has a special event, a manager or server can block out the app for that day on iPads that Spotluck provides.

“The merchant is our No. 1 stakeholder. Our success is dependent on their success,” Thomas said. “We don’t perform, they’re not paying. That’s a pretty reasonable value proposition for them. We want to find the minimum discount possible that will get people to go to them. We kind of believe that you shouldn’t have the same prices on a Monday that you do on a Friday, because things are different out there.”

So far, the pitch seems to be catching on.

Passage to India, Brickside, Yamas, Roof, 4935 Bar & Kitchen, Harp & Fiddle, MoMo, Freddy’s Lobster, La Panatteria, and Grapeseed have all signed on to be part of Spotluck’s Cordell Avenue hub.

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by Aaron Kraut — August 28, 2014 at 9:00 am 0

Flickr photo by ehpien

Town of Chevy Chase Won’t File Purple Line Lawsuit – Town of Chevy Chase Vice Mayor Pat Burda said the Town will not file a lawsuit against the Purple Line but might file a brief in support of the lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and two Town residents. The Town has spent about $214,000 so far on legal and lobbying fees against the light rail, which the Town is officially opposed to. [Washington Post]

Primary Spending Totals Are In And They Are Large – Marc Korman and Hrant Jamgochian, the two leading non-incumbent candidates in June’s District 16 House of Delegates primary, each spent more than $200,000 on their campaigns. Both financed their campaigns with significant self-loans. Korman loaned himself $69,000 and Jamgochian loaned himself about $150,000, including $30,000 in the days leading up to the primary. Korman won one of three Democratic District 16 nominations along with Bill Frick and Ariana Kelly, who also loaned herself major money for campaign spending. District 16 Senate candidate Hugh Hill loaned himself $50,000 in his losing effort against Susan Lee. [Bethesda Magazine]

School Bus Passing Problem Shows No Signs Of Abating – From January to mid-August, cameras installed on 25 MCPS buses caught about 710 instances of drivers illegally passing stopped buses. The school system and police started the school bus camera program in January to discourage drivers from passing buses with their stop arms out. In a Maryland State Department of Education survey done on one day in May, drivers observed 893 instances of motorists passing stopped school buses. That meant each driver participating saw an average of 1.1 incidents. [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by ehpien

by Aaron Kraut — August 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm 176 0

Purple Line supporters gather at a press conference in August 2013 to announce the pursuit of a public-private partnership to build, design and operate the system (file photo)After Chevy Chase environmentalists filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop the Purple Line, some of the light rail system’s staunchest supporters are touting how it will help the environment.

In a statement prepared after the news of the lawsuit, Purple Line Now President Ralph Bennett said his group “is confident that this lawsuit will be found to have no merit.”

The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and Chevy Chase residents John Fitzgerald and Christine Real de Azua say the federal government hasn’t adequately accounted for two species of amphipods – the small, shrimp-like creatures they say live in seeps along Rock Creek and Coquelin Run that would be degraded or destroyed by the Purple Line.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there’s no evidence the endangered amphipod species in question lives in the area near the proposed Purple Line route and that there’s no apparent risk to the one known habitat of an amphipod species that’s a candidate for the endangered list.

“Today’s lawsuit typifies the kind of specious claims that have characterized the history of opposition to the Purple Line,” Bennett said. “Despite the assertions of those who filed the lawsuit, the fact remains that there is no evidence that the species exists within the planned route of the Purple Line. The species is only known to exist in a few springs in the District of Columbia, a fact which was substantiated when this past spring, a search in the Montgomery County section of Rock Creek for the amphipod turned up nothing. Furthermore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency responsible for protecting endangered species and their habitats, has held that the construction of the Purple Line would have no effect on the amphipod, even if it were to exist in Montgomery County.”

That search in the spring was done by American University biologist and amphipod expert Dr. David Culver, who the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail hired with $10,000 in funding from the Town of Chevy Chase to do the surveys.

Purple Line NOW (and like-minded groups such as the Action Committee for Transit) are longtime opponents of the Town of Chevy Chase, which is officially opposed to the Purple Line and hasn’t ruled out litigation of its own.

The $2.37 billion light rail system would run from Bethesda to New Carrollton. The Maryland Transit Administration hopes to select a private concessionaire early next year to design, build and operate the system and start construction late next year. The goal is to complete the project by 2020.

Bennett goes on to say the environmental benefits of the Purple Line “far outweigh any potential harm.”

“The Purple Line is supported by countless environmental groups including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Water Action and the League of Conservation Voters,” Bennett said. “The Sierra Club even went so far as to name the Purple Line as one of the 25 best transportation projects in the United States in 2012. The Purple Line will provide tangible environmental benefits in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and automobile trips, and feature sustainable design elements such as green tracks, green buffers and planter boxes to reduce stormwater runoff and heat gain.”

by Aaron Kraut — August 27, 2014 at 3:25 pm 161 0

Here are a few upcoming events from the BethesdaNow.com calendar. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out our event submission form. Also, please check out the event calendar to see all that is going on:

Sunday

Bake Bethesda A Pie5th Annual Bake Bethesda A Pie Contest
Bethesda Elementary School 7600 Arlington Road
Time: 9:00 a.m. — 11:00 a.m.

Join the fun for the 5th annual “Bake Bethesda a Pie” contest, a fundraiser for Manna Food Center at Bethesda Central Farm Market on Sunday, August 31! There are THREE categories for entrants this year: kids (7-17), adults and culinary students. There is a $5 registration fee per pie and all proceeds will help support Manna’s programs. The event is free to attend and open to the public. Registration is now open through August 27!

September 3

Zoe Friedman entry into Trawick PrizeThe 2014 Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards Exhibit
Gallery B 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite E
Time: 12:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m.

The Trawick Prize is one of the first regional competitions and largest prizes to annually honor visual artists. To date, The Trawick Prize has awarded $154,000 in prize monies and has exhibited the work of more than 100 regional artists.

The public opening reception will be held Friday, September 12 from 6-9pm in conjunction with the Bethesda Art Walk. Gallery hours for the duration of the exhibit are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 – 6 p.m.

September 4

La Crema Wine Dinner
Grapeseed 4865 Cordell Avenue
Time: 6:30 p.m. — 9:30 p.m.

Join Chef Heineman in a salute to “Pork and Pinot” with Marita Esteva, Brand Ambassador.

September 6

All Aboard KensingtonAll Aboard Kensington
Kensington Armory/Town Hall 3710 Mitchell Street
Time: 11:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.

Model trains will chug around the tracks at the family-friendly ALL ABOARD KENSINGTON weekend.

Special guest performances: Dixie Land Express Band will perform on Saturday from 11am-1pm; Matthew Dodd will present railroad songs and stories on Sunday from 1-4pm.

ALL ABOARD KENSINGTON is a benefit for the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation (www.noyeslibraryfoundation.org) and the Kensington Historical Society (www.kensingtonhistory.org), and is sponsored by Gary & Diana Ditto, the Town of Kensington, and the National Capital Trackers.

September 7

Heroes-Walk-to-Fly-with-sneaker-PNG-SiteLuke’s Wings Heroes Walk to Fly!
Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart 9101 Rockville Pike
Time: 10:00 a.m. — 3:00 p.m.

Join Luke’s Wings for a 1.5 mile family-friendly walk past Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, through downtown Bethesda, followed by a Bethesda Community Block Party at the Finish Line at Euro Motorcars Bethesda, featuring food, music and activities!

Luke’s Wings is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to providing families with the means to visit during a Wounded Warrior’s hospitalization and rehabilitation.

by Aaron Kraut — August 27, 2014 at 1:15 pm 0

Montgomery County sealMonday’s Labor Day holidays mean a host of county government facilities will be closed.

Metro will run on a Sunday schedule, but the Bethesda and Medical Center stations will be closed to rail service because of track work:

County Offices – closed

Libraries – closed

County liquor stores – open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Recreation – outdoor aquatic facilities will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Olney Indoor Swim Center will be open normal hours, all other indoor aquatic facilities will be closed. Administrative offices, senior centers and community centers are closed.

Montgomery Parks – for operating schedules, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org.

Ride On – Sunday schedule

Metrobus – Sunday schedule

Metrorail – Sunday schedule

TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed

Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection (Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Transfer Station – closed

Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free

MCPS Administrative Offices – closed

State offices & courts – closed

by Aaron Kraut — August 27, 2014 at 11:55 am 488 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 27, 2014 at 11:00 am 191 2 Comments

New escalators at Westfield Montgomery Dining Terrace

State Prosecutor Clears School Board In Credit Card Scandal – Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt says his office found credit card spending by some members of the Board of Education don’t “rise to the level of criminal misconduct,” and that his office has closed its investigation. [MCPS]

Feds Issue Subpoenas In Probe of Failed Healthcare Exchange – The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health is subpoenaing documents related to the failed rollout of Maryland’s healthcare exchange. Auditors have requested information from the since removed North Dakota-based lead contractor hired to build the site. [The Baltimore Sun]

Georgetown Prep Grad Dies In Ohio Plane Crash – Abraham Pishevar, a Rockville native who graduated from Georgetown Prep in the spring, died in a plane crash with three others on Monday. Pishevar had just begun his freshman year at Case Western University and was on the plane with teammates on the university’s wrestling team. [Georgetown Prep]

Town of Chevy Chase Might Hire Lawyer For Bethesda Downtown Plan – The Town of Chevy Chase is considering hiring a lawyer to represent it before the Planning Board as it deliberates the Bethesda Downtown Plan. Many in the Town are concerned about the affects increased density and development would have on the neighborhood, which is just east of a large swath of downtown Bethesda. [The Gazette]

by Aaron Kraut — August 27, 2014 at 10:00 am 926 8 Comments

Photos via Brett Hartl/Center for Biological DiversityTwo Chevy Chase residents and the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail filed a federal lawsuit this week seeking to stop the Purple Line because they claim the light rail would do much environmental harm.

The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail (FCCT), John Fitzgerald and Christine Real de Azua say the federal government hasn’t adequately accounted for two species of amphipods — the small, shrimp-like creatures they say live in seeps along Rock Creek and Coquelin Run that would be degraded or destroyed by the Purple Line.

The lawsuit follows a notice of intent to sue in June that was more specifically aimed at protecting the amphipod species under the Endangered Species Act.

Meagan Racey, spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the federal agencies involved and the Maryland Transit Administration met with environmentalists and some Chevy Chase residents on Aug. 11.

The Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed its findings from last year in light of the new information from the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, which hired American University biologist Dr. David Culver to survey for amphipods this spring near the proposed Purple Line route.

But Racey said officials found no need to revaluate protections for the amphipods because there is no evidence that amphipods exist in the seeps near the Purple Line route.

“We also found from [Dr. Culver] that under nearly ideal conditions he didn’t find these species at all,” Racey said.

In a letter to the Federal Transit Administration (see PDF below) the Fish and Wildlife Service said “there are no known or suspected sites for the Hay’s Spring amphipod within the immediate vicinity of the Purple Line project.”

The Kenk’s amphipod, which is a candidate for federal listing as an endangered species, is known to live in one site about a quarter-mile south of the Purple Line route in the Coquelin Run Spring. But the Fish and Wildlife Service said the site is on a hillside about 40 feet above any groundwater that would be polluted as a result of the light rail.

The Center for Biological Diversity, the major environmental group that was a part of the notice of intent letter in June, is not listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed this week.

Center for Biological Diversity senior counsel Bill Snape said the group fully supports the lawsuit, but didn’t join “because our concerns and objections to the Purple Line are, at this point, relatively narrow, focusing exclusively on the endangered species habitat conservation issues. We are still hopeful that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will wake up and do the right thing.”

The lawsuit also covers complaints about how the Purple Line would affect the aesthetic and recreational value of the Georgetown Branch Trail and a habitat of herons in Coquelin Run.

“The plaintiffs want the Federal Transit Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Secretaries of Interior and Transportation to find alternatives to the Purple Line route between Bethesda and Silver Spring, in order to protect the Rock Creek watershed that harbors the Hay’s Spring amphipod and the Kenk’s amphipod, tiny freshwater invertebrates found nowhere else in the United States. The lawsuit says these animals’ habitat could be degraded or destroyed by construction of the railway and associated development,” according to a press release provided by Real de Azua.

The Federal Transit Administration is expected to pitch in about $900 million for the $2.37 billion system. The MTA hopes to select a private concessionaire early next year to design, build and operate the light rail and start construction late next year.

In its complaint, the group says Culver’s recent survey “found several seeps along the Purple Line route where the endangered amphipods may currently be or might be restored as part of a recovery plan. A survey of those areas is planned for the late fall when the crustaceans emerge from within their underground habitat. Several agency reports describe stormwater run off and deforestation as major threats to the survival of the endangered amphipods.”

PDF: Capital Crescent Complaint Against Purple Line

PDF: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Response To Amphipod Claims

Photo via Brett Hartl/Center for Biological Diversity

by Aaron Kraut — August 27, 2014 at 9:00 am 263 0

Smoothie King coming to 4710 Bethesda Ave.The former Bethesda Avenue space of a locally-owned tea shop will become a Smoothie King.

A banner in the window of 4710 Bethesda Ave. announces Smoothie King’s pending arrival. Zen Tara Tea, the independent tea shop and retailer that opened in the spot after success at a local farmers market, closed in May 2013. The space has been vacant since.

No word on if the existing Smoothie King location at 7720 Wisconsin Ave. will be affected. That property has been approved for redevelopment into a hotel and office building.

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