The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission recently completed a tricky mining procedure for a bi-county water main that will run under Bethesda.
On April 24, WSSC “holed through” the wall of a shaft 200 feet below a spot near Tuckerman Lane and I-270. A Tunnel Boring Machine drilled a 4.5-mile section of what will be a tunnel for a 84-inch diameter water main that will be able to hold up to 100 million gallons of water a day.
WSSC said its Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) hit its target under Tuckerman Lane a few feet off from dead center.
It was the last leg of the 5.3-mile tunnel and the final step in the mining portion of the Bi-County Water Tunnel Project. The Bi-County Water Tunnel will run along I-270 and I-495, connecting two existing 96-inch water mains and helping to keep up with increasing water demands in both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.
A press release on the project said the new main will also increase reserves in case of emergency. It will be completed in 2014.
The scheduled shutdown of several large water mains at the time of the Chevy Chase Lake Drive water main break in March, including a 96-inch main from WSSC’s Potomac filtration plant to Tuckerman Lane, drew scrutiny from Montgomery County leaders.
The break, combined with the shutdowns combined forced WSSC to issue mandatory water use restrictions.
Video via WSSC
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Beth Anne Nesselt said a medical unit received a call at about 9:31 a.m. for an accident at a house in the 5500 block of Uppingham Street, near the intersection of Little Falls Parkway and River Road.
First responders arrived to find a man in his 20s had fallen from the first floor of the home into the basement.
Nesselt said the man was immobilized as a precaution and he never lost consciousness.
Leventhal was in Bethesda on Monday to talk about his trenching bill, introduced earlier this year, that would require MCDOT to adopt a five-year plan for the renovation, repair and replacement of streets and roads as a way to avoid the digging, patching up and then possible re-digging of streets by different utilities such as Washington Gas, Pepco or WSSC.
Leventhal said the bill would help the county avoid situations like it had last year in Silver Spring, where a road that had been resurfaced was set to undergo trenching and patching work from WSSC just months later. He thinks the coordination could allow different agencies and utilities to plan their work for the same time, minimizing disruptions and saving costs in the long term.
“It’s about sharing the costs,” Leventhal said.
Kelly Gibson Caplan, a community outreach representative for Washington Gas, said lowering costs was the main reason Washington Gas has expressed support for the proposal. Leventhal said he was surprised at MCDOT’s apparent opposition to the bill and characterized WSSC and Pepco’s reaction as “benign neglect.”
Members of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board, which was having its monthly meeting, seemed receptive to the idea. The group had already cited it in a list of FY14 budget priorities it presented to the County Council last week.
Rockville-based Federal Realty today won approval for new temporary signage at its Pike & Rose site, a move it hopes will enhance its branding and marketing efforts for the mixed-use town square-oriented development to come.
Federal Realty will replace the green mesh material on the fence around Phase 1 of construction along Old Georgetown Road with a series of images designed by Paula Rees, who also designed Federal’s Sanatana Row project in California.
All temporary signage in the county that encompasses more than 100 feet requires a variance from the county’s Sign Review Board. Board chair Coblens Scherr expressed concern with how eye-catching the images might be to drivers turning onto Old Georgetown Road from Rockville Pike.
But Scherr and the rest of the Board approved the variance, which also includes vertical signs on 20-f0ot tall posts to advertise the Pike Central Farm Market, which opens on Saturday.
“One of the things that Federal Realty is extremely keen on making sure of is positioning a property within its context and within the portfolio we have,” said Vanessa Rodriguez, who handles marketing for Pike & Rose and for Bethesda Row. “We really think about what it is going to look like and what it is going to feel like and how we are going to communicate that.”
When complete, the former Mid-Pike Plaza will have 1.5 million square feet of retail, residential, office and hotel space and a new street grid between Rockville Pike and Montrose Parkway. Phase 1 of the project, 950,000 square feet of mixed-use retail that includes a luxury iPic movie theater, broke ground last summer along Old Georgetown Road and is expected to be completed in the summer or fall of 2014.
Tommy Mann, a development associate at Federal Realty, said the upgraded signage is also part of the developer’s attempt to be a good neighbor.
The Sign Board gave Federal Realty a year for the new signage before having to come back and provide an update. The construction signage, designed to hang on a six-foot high fence, will be re-used as construction crews move from parcel to parcel on the property.
Photos from Federal Realty
Development, and the construction that comes with it, is an aspect of everyday life for residents and businesses in downtown Bethesda.
With an intense new wave of projects under construction or in the pipeline, that won’t change anytime soon.
Here are seven of the ongoing or upcoming construction projects that are changing traffic patterns, closing sidewalks and requiring a little patience from those who call Bethesda home.
The number of modern homes in established Bethesda neighborhoods of colonials, Cape Cods and Tudors are increasing, and they always draw attention.
One on Hampden Lane even inspired some neighbors to scream at contractors and throw rocks through the windows, as chronicled in this Bethesda Magazine piece from January.
Here are a few of the new, modern homes in old Bethesda neighborhoods that are turning heads. Based on the most recently available property tax evaluations via Maryland’s public database, the properties (some which have homes still under construction) range from the $300,000 range to $3.5 million.
The old U.S. Post Office building at 7001 Arlington Rd. is no more after crews tore down the brick building in the last few days to make way for a five-story, 140-unit apartment with ground floor retail.
The Post Office closed last year as Philadelphia-based developer Keating fenced off the site and prepared it for demolition and construction.
The new apartment will include a parking garage with 211 spaces, which will accommodate 44 fewer peak-hour trips during weekday mornings and 19 fewer peak-hour trips during the evening rush hour than the Post Office generated, according to County Planning Staff.
Also in the plans: A new traffic signal that would go at the intersection of Arlington Road and the north entrance to the Bradley Boulevard shopping center.
Construction is moving along in the first phase of Federal Realty’s Pike & Rose redevelopment project for the Mid-Pike Plaza in White Flint.
The Rockville-based developer behind Bethesda Row is tearing down the 24-acre strip mall at Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road and building 1,500 residential units, 430,000 square feet of retail space, 1.1 million square feet of office space and a 350-room hotel.
The first phase, set for completion in 2014, will include a luxury iPic movie theater. It broke ground last summer along Old Georgetown Road and will also include an 18-story, 300-unit apartment building.
In February, crews installed storm and foundation drainage in the building that will house iPic, which will carry a Salt Bar and Tanzy Express, a “contemporary mediterranean” restaurant also in other iPic locations.
The South Florida-based iPic Theaters will be the the development’s first anchor tenant, and Federal Realty officials hope the high-end, club-like atmosphere where movie-goers can reserve seats and get food delivered to their chairs will attract other tenants.
Roti Mediterranean Grill, which opened earlier this month near Montgomery Mall, has announced it will open a location in the new development once it opens in 2014.
Crews have installed columns in the northeast quadrant of the building and two levels of parking should be completed by early April. Block 12 will be home to the 18-story “uber-cool, loft-style” apartment building.
After North Bethesda Market, it will be the second new mixed-use project completed in the area around the White Flint Metro station.
Aerial photo via Federal Realty
With three major apartment projects, a new restaurant and bar and an expansive stormwater management facility under construction, one of Bethesda’s oldest commercial areas is undergoing a major facelift.
Soon, the 15,000-square foot building with the green siding at 4900 Fairmont Ave. will come down. Montgomery County has issued demolition permits for the property, which Chevy Chase-based developer JBG Cos. plans to build into a 17-story, 250-unit apartment building.
Across the street, construction continues on the 17-story, 200-unit Bainbridge Bethesda property, home of one of two cranes hovering over Woodmont Triangle.
The other is the Gallery of Bethesda (4800 Auburn Ave.), which will include two phases of construction for two apartment towers. The foundation of the first tower, a 235-unit, 17-story apartment, now extends a few floors above street level.
Closer to Wisconsin Avenue, Montgomery County’s 1.3-acre stormwater management pond is coming along near Woodmont Avenue just south of the NIH campus gate. The pond is expected to use landscaping techniques and filtration to capture polluted runoff from 204 acres of downtown Bethesda.
Nearby, utility and prep work continues for the 8300 Wisconsin Ave. apartment project form developer StonebridgeCarras. The 359-unit, 430,000-square-foot building that will include a ground floor Harris Teeter grocery store is still in its beginning stages of construction. Crews continue to dig in the Woodmont Avenue and Battery Lane intersection to place new utility lines.
UPDATE: A public relations representative for JBG Cos. said the company sent the following response to the organizer of the “Justice For Wings Workers” a few weeks ago, but received no response:
Dear Ms. Fani-Gonzalez,
I appreciate your concern about this matter and I expressed that when we spoke during your sidewalk visit a week ago. As I said then, however, your concern is not a matter for The JBG Companies or any JBG employee to address or resolve. Our company plans and develops properties under close scrutiny of government regulators and the community, and abides by all laws. We do not dictate to contractors who or how they should hire, but expect them to comply with all pertinent laws as well. JBG has a long and reputable history and a strong record of building well and responsibly. We value that record and reputation and will not jeopardize it, including by inserting ourselves into matters outside of our purview. I trust you understand this and therefore realize that JBG has no role in this matter.
ORIGINAL STORY: A small group of workers on strike from a subcontractor this morning began banging drums in a protest in front of developer JBG Cos. Chevy Chase headquarters, causing JBG officials to call Montgomery County Police.
Ronnell Howard said the group hoped to pressure JBG to stop allowing general contractors from using Wings Enterprises, a D.C.-based concrete and iron work subcontractor in an ongoing dispute with some workers over wages and safety training. The company has denied past charges of low wages, poor safety conditions and retaliation against workers who protested.
Howard, who said he was kicked out of an apprenticeship program after his complaint with the D.C. Department of Employment Services forced Wings to pay him $11,000 in back wages, said workers two weeks ago presented JBG with a set of OSHA violations and statements from workers.
Howard said the group of about six workers on strike came back to protest on Thursday because they were unhappy with the lack of response from JBG. A JBG representative could not be immediately reached for comment.
Police were called to the scene in the 4400 block of Willard Avenue a little after 10:30 a.m., when a JBG official complained about the noise the drums were making. Howard said police told the group a supervisor would come out to measure the decibel level of the drums.
Supporters of the strike were passing out flyers claiming that JBG officials wouldn’t listen to their claims.
Montgomery County is nearing the completion of an expansive pond on the NIH campus that environmental planners say will treat stormwater from downtown Bethesda and NIH that might have otherwise ended up in a tributary of Rock Creek.
The county started construction on the $2.5 million, six-acre Stoney Creek Stormwater Management Pond and site in October 2010. Construction was scheduled to last two years.
The project, which includes a 1.3-acre pond, two underground trash collection chambers and landscaping near the intersection of Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues, is approaching its final stages, according to county spokeswoman Esther Bowring.
Bowring said the county will complete all site grading and construction by early March, at which point planting will begin. There will be periodic follow-ups as required to get the new grasses, shrubs and trees off to a good start.
The county regarded the location of the pond as key for capturing runoff from 204 acres of the Bethesda Central Business District and NIH campus. The project will also include a subsurface aerator for enhancing water circulation and other measures for discouraging mosquitoes or other pests.
The site sits on the southern edge of NIH’s campus, directly behind the apartments on Battery Lane.
Bethesda Blues & Jazz Coming Along — The much-anticipated venue, taking over the space of the historic Bethesda Theater, is set to open March 1. [Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club via Twitter]
Six More Weeks Of Blasting At Lot 31 — The contractor working on the underground garage and apartment project at the former site of Lot 31 expects six more weeks of excavation blasting. Most blasts occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]
County Council Members Spent Thousands On Food In 2012 — Council members recently took part in the SNAP Challenge, living off $5 worth of food for five days to raise awareness of poverty and those who get assistance through the SNAP program. In 2012, the Council spent thousands on lunches for meetings with state politicians and for other events. Lunch with Sen. Ben Cardin (D) cost $266, $26.60 per person for the nine council members and Cardin. [The Gazette]
Officials on Thursday presented a revised plan for the $300 million, 40-acre Intelligence Community Campus-Bethesda (ICC-B) at 4600 Sangamore Rd. that largely does away the huge existing surface parking lots in favor of landscaping that architects say will better hold rainwater and better fits into the surrounding forested area.
The new plans were met with widespread approval from nearby residents at a smaller community meeting in November. Before, many in the neighborhoods off Sangamore Road were unhappy with the potential for damage to trees around the facility, how the 3,000-person campus would affect the forest that backs up to the Potomac River and parking.
Thursday’s public presentation at a nearby school showed off architecture firm Leo A Daly’s design that includes new facades for the existing buildings, an L-shaped Centrum building to connect those structures, lots of glass and large swaths of grassy parks and bioretention areas to “create a foreground that is grounded in a much more natural setting,” architect Bill Baxley said.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is taking over the secure campus from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which moved to Virginia in 2011 as part of Base Realignment and Closure. The redesigned campus is expected to be complete in 2016.
The campus will include a defense university and officials said the new parking garage (already under construction) in the northwest corner of the property will have 1,800 spots. The agency also offers a shuttle service from the nearest Metro stop.
DIA officials don’t anticipate workers or students at the campus would park in neighborhoods or the shopping center across the street, as that would put them much farther away than the garage, which will be connected to the main buildings with a roughly 80-foot walkway.
A new entrance road also on the existing surface lots will have a security checkpoint deeper inside the property, thus preventing cars from queuing on Sangamore Road and moving any necessary car barriers farther from public view.
The garage is scheduled to be complete in July. Crews will start demolition of one of the campus buildings in April. In August, they plan to start foundation work on the Centrum building and in September, they plan to begin planting much of the landscaping on the north side of the campus.
Project designers are still working on a stormwater management outfall study. Officials said they’d like to repair some of the damage done to surrounding area that has been negatively affected by stormwater since the original campus was built in the 1940′s, before stormwater management restrictions.
Renderings via Army Corps of Engineers
Construction Of East-West Highway Office To Cause Lane Closure — Construction crews are ready for mass excavation at 4500 East-West Highway, where the McDonald’s was torn down to make way for a new office building. Crews will close the west lane of Pearl Street in the next few weeks. The shot crossing street will become one-way between East-West Highway and Montgomery Avenue. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]
Bike Groups Against State Mandatory Helmet Law — Bike advocates know helmet-use means safer bicycling, but they say a law that would require it being discussed in the Maryland legislature will cause fewer people to ride, perhaps making drivers less aware that bicyclists are out there and causing more accidents. [Washington Post]
Bethesda Art Walk Tonight — The monthly event takes art-seekers through a collection of studios and spaces and will coincide with the opening reception for Gallery B’s February exhibit of local photographers. Reception starts at 6 p.m. [Bethesda Urban Partnership]
Public Hearing On Redistricting, Voting Precinct Changes — The Montgomery County Board of Elections will hold a public hearing from 10 a.m. to noon on March 2 at its Gaithersburg headquarters to discuss realigned voting precincts that are expected to go into effect for the 2014 election cycle. [Montgomery County Board of Elections]
Flickr photo by katharine brainard
Neighbors of the 8300 Wisconsin apartment project on the northern edge of downtown Bethesda might have been in for a late night wake-up call last week.
A representative for the developer of the approximately 360-unit apartment project (with a confirmed Harris Teeter grocery store) said crews were conducting permitted underground utility work last week between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., which included at least one period of jackhammering around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29.
“Our 8300 Wisconsin did have required underground investigative utility work last week. The work was permitted with the MD State Highway Administration and the permit mandated work was directed to proceed between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.,” wrote Kevin Cosimano, a principal with Bethesda-based developer StonebridgeCarras. “The permit is still open in the event we need to do more investigative work, but none is planned at this time.”
StonebridgeCarras is also building the 250-unit apartment and ground floor retail property on the former site of Lot 31 on Bethesda Row. Construction there caused a stir in December when nearby residents reported earthquake-like thumps that seemed to be coming from the excavation project there.
StonebridgeCarras said it had warned people in the commercial and residential properties nearby that Clark Construction would be blasting dense, hard rock in the middle of the day in order to build the planned underground parking garage for the site.
In October, the developer was going through the process of applying for the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Voluntary Cleanup Program, typically used to certify that a site isn’t contaminated.
Meanwhile, utility work in the nearby intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Battery Lane has slowed down considerably in the past few months.