Major Contractors, Developers Want ‘Traffic Relief Plan’

Major Contractors, Developers Want ‘Traffic Relief Plan’

County asked for measures to alleviate congestion as multiple projects sprout in Bethesda

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Construction continues on a downtown Bethesda project Monday morning.

Caitlynn Peetz

Representatives from 13 construction and development companies are calling on Montgomery County leaders to institute a “Bethesda traffic relief plan” as construction picks up.

A letter signed by businesses including B.F. Saul Co. and Affiliates, Clark Enterprises, Donohoe Construction and Washington Property Co., outlines more than a dozen key points for officials to consider to ease traffic congestion and improve pedestrian safety.

The group asked for Bethesda Circulator bus routes to be expanded to the Medical Center Metro station, purchase of backup Circulator buses to run when main buses are out of service, stronger parking enforcement, increased police presence and installation of traffic cameras on Wisconsin Avenue at intersections with Battery Lane, Norfolk Avenue and Leland Street.

Suggestions range from the low-tech — replacement of faded traffic signs — to a greater investment in high-tech system to better sequence traffic lights to improve the flow of traffic on major routes, including Wisconsin Avenue, East-West Highway, Old Georgetown Road, Jones Bridge Road and Bradley Boulevard.

Also suggested was phasing out coin-fed parking meters to be replaced by meters that accept credit cards and changing one-way streets like Montgomery Lane, Old Georgetown Road and East-West Highway to two-way streets.

The goal, it said, is to get ahead of increased traffic and population before 2022, when the Marriott International headquarters project is expected to be completed.

Along with Marriott’s trophy project will come several multi-family buildings to include about 1,900 new apartments and an estimated 4,500 people. More than 1.7 million square feet of office space is expected to be built among four projects.

“We urge County and State officials to prepare for this increase in population … and remind you that you have three budget cycles to accomplish the necessary improvements,” the letter, dated Feb. 6, says.

County Council President Nancy Navarro said during a news conference Monday that the county is closely monitoring high-density areas of the county where traffic and pedestrian improvements are needed.

“We have a number of high priority areas throughout the county, one of which is Bethesda. That’s why I think it’s critical that we hold a special session to understand what some of the immediate things we can address,” she said.

Navarro said she wasn’t sure yet when the council would hold the special session.

This story will be updated.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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