UPDATE 12:10 p.m. Metro today released details on its plan to pilot a “Metro Station Of The Future” project at the Bethesda Metro Station.
Business and political representatives from the community have been lobbying for more lighting and a better looking Metro station for years. In March, WMATA officials let the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Improvement Task Force know the Bethesda station had been selected for the pilot.
The project would provide a number of improvements including high-output light fixtures, a stainless steel and light gray interior to replace “Metro brown”, a thinner kiosk with digital panels for service information and new fare gates with next-generation technology for faster entry and exit.
Washington Examiner reporter Liz Essley tweeted that a Metro official said the station would be done by the end of FY 2015.
The Bethesda Metro station is set to undergo an extensive replacement process to its three escalators, the second-longest in the system and the second-longest in the Western Hemisphere (behind the escalators at Wheaton.)
“Being chosen for Metro’s model station pilot program is welcome news for the Bethesda community,” Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) said in a statement. “As the economic engine of Montgomery County, Bethesda is a gateway station for many transit riders. I am so grateful to General Manager Sarles and the WMATA Board for recognizing the value of the Bethesda Station to the Metro network and the economic vitality of our county. We all look forward to seeing the new and improved Metro station.”
Video via Metro
UPDATED at 4:35 p.m. The exact details are not yet known, but some Bethesda business leaders are celebrating today after a Metro official told them the transit system would be testing out some new station features at the Bethesda station during a meeting this morning.
“Bethesda is one of the economic engines for Montgomery County and the first experience many people have in Bethesda is coming up that Metro,” said real estate agent Jane Fairweather, a member of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Improvement Task Force. “How sad, it’s pretty awful. It is the hello for strangers, the handshake welcome to Bethesda and it’s critical for our businesses. It’s critical for our public image.”
Fairweather and many of the roughly 15 members of the Task Force would like that image to be brighter, which is why she anticipates new lighting and ceiling tiles might be a part of the station redesign.
This story was first reported by Bethesda Patch, which cited a Metro spokesman as saying no details had yet been determined.
Chamber CEO Ginanne Italiano said the pilot program will be named the “Metro Station of the Future,” and WMATA has decided to try it in Bethesda in part because of the massive escalator replacement coming next year. Italiano and other Bethesda business and political representatives had been seeking solutions to escalator issues for years.
“It was really a culmination of all of those things,” Italiano said. “We were pushing for these changes and talking about the station’s importance, as an economic hub.”
Fairweather said the group was ecstatic upon hearing the news from a Metro community liaison. The same group played a large part in creating the award-winning Tunnel Vision art display in the tunnel connecting Metro entrances on each side of Wisconsin Avenue.
“We’ve been working on this for three years, not just this being a pilot but on improving the Metro,” Fairweather said.
Fairweather said early indications also have Metro installing a new station manager’s kiosk around the gate area.
“I think it’s going to get transformed,” Fairweather said. “It’s an essential part of what gets people to want to live here, come here, shop here, eat here. Metro is our link and we’re trying to get people out of their cars. So when you want people to get out of their cars, you have to make that a good experience.”
Italiano said there will be a formal announcement of the program soon, possibly in the next few weeks.
A business dedicated to celebrating the life cycle events of its clients celebrated a new beginning of its own today.
Creative Parties Ltd., the event planning and wedding invitation store that used to occupy the blue and green house on Woodmont Avenue, held a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce at its new, across-the-street location in the Landow Building (4822 St Elmo Ave.).
Owner and President Tracy Bloom Schwartz said she moved the business out of its Woodmont Avenue space of 16 years because of uncertainty around the property owner’s future plans for the site.
The business began under Bloom Schwartz’s mother, Rita Bloom, at the family’s home and had a location on Auburn Avenue for 10 years before moving to Woodmont Avenue.
Rita Bloom was in attendance on Friday morning, as Bloom Schwartz, her employees, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce board members and Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) helped her cut a ribbon.
Bloom Schwartz and her sister grew up planning children’s parties, stuffing party bags and other jobs for her mom’s company before going into the corporate world. She later returned and took over the company, one of Bethesda’s most popular independent shops.
Before the first couple customers got their free burritos today, the owners of the new California Tortilla on Cordell Avenue celebrated their grand opening with a burrito-cutting ceremony befitting of their unique style.
The flagship franchise of the fast casual Mexican chain opened across the street (at 4871 Cordell Ave.) from its first-ever location last week. But the formal opening, which includes free burritos and free soda from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., was this morning.
It drew a fast-growing line that stretched around to the Norfolk Avenue side of the restaurant.
Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce Chairman Andy Stearn helped owners Pam Felix and Alan Cohen welcome the occasion by slicing the ceremonial burrito, which was a few feet long.
Hundreds came out to see Bethesda’s three Olympians from the London 2012 Games Friday at the Metro Center plaza.
Gold medalist swimmer and Stone Ridge School student Katie Ledecky, slalom kayaker Scott Parsons and rhythmic gymnast Julie Zetlin signed autographs before receiving a host of honors and proclamations in a jam-packed ceremony.
Katie Ledecky, Scott Parsons and Julie Zetlin, the three Bethesda natives who competed in the recently completed London 2012 Olympics, will be honored with a homecoming ceremony of sorts next Friday (Aug. 24) at the Bethesda Metro station Metro Center plaza.
The 15-year-old Ledecky, a student at the Stone Ridge School and the youngest U.S. Olympian, won swimming gold in the 800 freestyle, a dominating victory that quickly led to a ton of media attention.
Parsons, 33, competed in his third Olympic slalom kayaking event, finishing in 16th place.
Zetlin was the first U.S. competitor in rhythmic gymnastics since 2004. She finished 21st in qualification.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) and County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) will be at the event, organized by the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), Greater Bethesda Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center and Brookfield Properties.
The ceremony will kick off at 5:30 p.m.