Montgomery County begins work on long-anticipated bike-lane projects

County begins work on long-anticipated bike-lane projects in Bethesda

Construction expected to last three months, cost $2.4 million

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The intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues has become a construction site as the county begins work on a system of bike lanes for Bethesda. County officials estimate that construction will take about three months.

Photo by Dan Schere

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation has begun work on two bike lanes that will help create a bicycling network through downtown Bethesda.

Construction for the Capital Crescent Surface Trail and Woodmont Avenue Cycletrack began in early November. Work started at the intersection of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues.

The Surface Trail will run along the northern side of Bethesda Avenue between Woodmont and Wisconsin Avenues. It will connect the Capital Crescent Trail and downtown Bethesda.

Another part of the trail will run on the southern side of Willow Lane to 47th Street. The Cycletrack will run along Woodmont Avenue from Montgomery Lane to Miller Avenue

According to Capital Crescent Surface Trail Project Manager Matt Johnson, construction should last about three months.

The bike lanes are expected to be completed in the late winter or the early spring of 2021. The exact date will depend on how much rain and snow there is this winter, Johnson wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat.

Construction will only occur during the day, and might cause some disruptions to traffic, pedestrian and cyclist routes, and parking.

The county’s Capital Improvement Program will finance the two projects, which are expected to come to about $2.4 million. 

A Montgomery County Department of Transportation map showing the bicycle improvements

The improvements have been a long time coming. The Capital Crescent Surface Trail has been planned since 1994, but went through several rounds of community and government input and revision to get to these final plans.

It took about three years for Montgomery Planning, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, to make the Bicycle Master Plan. The County Council approved the plan in November 2018. Now, the county’s Department of Transportation is implementing the designs.

“In particular where they come together at Woodmont and Bethesda, the designs are now very progressive and state of the art. We’re excited about them,” said David Anspacher, the transportation supervisor at the commission and the Bicycle Master Plan project manager.

They are a strong step towards Montgomery County’s goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on county roads by 2030, Johnson wrote. The separate bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements will reduce exposure and slow turning speeds, and therefore increase road safety, he wrote.

Because Woodmont Avenue is such a central road — it ties together the trolley trail and the components of the Capital Crescent Trail, and brings people to the Bethesda Metro station entrance — it is a good place for a bike lane, Anspacher said.

“It’s the spine of downtown Bethesda,” he explained.

The Capital Crescent Trail is one of the region’s busiest bikeways, Johnson wrote. The new paths will divert bike traffic away from the trail and provide a safer route for bicyclists navigating Bethesda.

The bike lanes are aimed at attracting people of all ages and bicycling abilities and make them feel comfortable biking on local streets, Anspacher said.

The need for bike lanes becomes especially pronounced during a pandemic, he added, as more people are looking for exercise they can do while social distancing. The county has seen an increase in bicycling during the pandemic, particularly as people shy away from public transit.

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