Monday, March 30, 2020

Explosives permit for WMAL tower demoliton expires

At the end of the driveway at the WMAL transmitter field (7115 Greentree Rd) there is a wooden pole with a number of permits attached to it.  Most of them expire in December, but one of them expired on March 27th.  The one that expired is the one that allows them to "manufacture, dispose, purchase, store, use, possess, or transport explosives within the jurisdiction".  Or, to put it bluntly, they can't blow up the towers anymore.  This isn't a deal breaker, I am sure they can apply for a new one, but it does show you that the demolition of the towers is no longer imminent.





The Three other permits I saw are:

  • Sediment Control Permit, expires late November. Gives permission to "Disturb 18,000 square feet" for the purpose of a "small land disturbing activity" (yeah, that's really what it says)
  • Right-of-way Construction Permit, expires mid December.  Gives permission to "restore and / or repair driveway"
  • Demolition / Move Permit, expires early December.  Gives permission to "Demolish Commercial Miscellaneous struc", that is the "Demolition of radio transmission towers"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Overturned tractor trailer inner loop after 270 spur



There is an overturned tractor trailer on the inner loop of I-495 after the exit to the I-270 spur (exit 38) and before Old Georgetown Road.  It closes two of the three lanes, keep to the right to get by.


Given how light traffic is on the outer loop, I don't know how much of a backup this is causing, but there are a steady stream of cars making their way past.  A crane is on the scene now preparing to pull the trailer back upright.





This week's grocery update

Overall, the situation at the grocery store continues to improve.  I only took pictures of aisle that were having out of stock situations, so just looking at these photos will make it seem worse than it really is.

Perishable food that is in stock: fresh fruit and vegetables, beef, chicken (they were stocking that while I was there), eggs, milk, bread.  Basically all the perishable food was well stocked though there were the occasional places where some brands or flavors were unavailable, I noticed a limited selection of almond milk.

Also in stock but possibly limited variety: Pasta (mostly just spaghetti available) but plenty of pasta sauce, soup, flour, mac & cheese, tuna, chicken nuggets, frozen meals, frozen pizza.  Cleaning supplies were better stocked than last week but still a bit picked over.  Canned and dried beans as well as canned vegetables are also available in limited quantities and varieties, but more than last week.

This brings us to stuff that was sold out (or mostly sold out)  The top picture on the left is the candy aisle.  The were almost entirely out of candy.  The horror.  I don't know if it is that they are really short on it, or if they just have prioritized stocking essentials.  There was some Easter candy scattered around the store, so if you really need your sugar fix you can get it.  On the right side the empty shelves usually contain boxes of cake and muffin mix.  There were just a couple of options, you can really tell what people don't find appetizing.

Here's the other surprise.  This is the ice cream novelties (ice cream bars and such)  It is almost entirely empty.  On the right side of the pictures is the fake ice cream (halo top, and other non-dairy frozen stuff) There was plenty of that.  Outside of the picture is the actual ice cream.  There was very limited supply of that.


I'm a little surprised that toilet paper (on the right) is still out of stock.  I figured that by now anyone who was going to buy 20 packages already had.  Other paper products like plates and plastic cutlery (on the left) are also out of stock.  I bet they weren't planning on selling so many this early in the year.


Also of note: There were a lot more people wearing masks this week than last week.  It is getting to be fashionable.

Friday, March 27, 2020

How is rush hour?

Yesterday I went in to work during rush hour for the first time since the CoViD-19 restrictions started.  As you would expect, traffic was lighter than a normal rush hour, but how much lighter?  I took these pictures at about 8:50 am, normally the peak of rush hour.
End of MD355 merge lanes: This is usually one of the larger bottlenecks on the inner loop of the beltway, it is where the merge lane from Maryland 355 (Rockville Pike) ends.  People stay in the merge lane (on the left of the picture) up until the very end and it slows the left lane down significantly as they merge in.

Inner Loop near the Mormon Temple: This is between Connecticut Avenue and George Avenue, you can see the Mormon temple in the distance to the left. You can see the outer loop traffic is also much lighter than usual.


George Avenue exit: Another common slowdown, this is approaching the exit for Georgia Avenu (MD 97) in Silver Spring.  Not very crowded today.

Monday, March 23, 2020

How are the grocery stores holding up?

In an effort to have less close contact with people, I haven't been to the grocery store in a week.  Last time I went they were out of stock on a ton of stuff, so I was curious about how well stocked they would be today.  I went early this morning, around 7:30am. First stop was the produce section, as you can see it was well stocked, I didn't see that they were out of anything.

Toilet paper and cleaning supplies were another issue entirely.  I saw no toilet paper or paper towels (although as I was going in, I saw someone leaving with a few roles of paper towels) and there was only a limited supply of Kleenex and paper plates and cups. There were probably only a dozen bottles of sanitizing cleaning sprays. This seems a bit more than they can't put things on the shelf fast enough since I'd expect this to be a priority.

The meat section looked like it might be more of a stocking situation than a shortage.  There was plenty of beef and ham, but no chicken or pork. (also plenty of fish and shrimp).

Pasta's and soups had limited selection, but if you weren't picky about which type of pasta there was plenty, including of the kind that is on sale this week.


Canned vegetables, rice, and beans also seems more like them not being able to stock fast enough, some types and brands there were plenty of (like black beans) Others were out of stock or very low (there were 4 cans of chick peas, I took two).

A few of the other staples I didn't take pictures of, but, there was no flour, plenty of sugar, no eggs, and plenty of bread and milk.  All in all, it looks like things are holding up very well given the circumstances.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Free parking at the Del Rey/Auburn Avenue garage

As part of the county's response to CoViD-19, parking is temporarily free at the parking garage that opens to Del Rey Avenue and Auburn Avenue.  They also have created some free curbside pickup zones to help with picking up food from restaurants.  No word on how long this will last.
One question I have though is: How do you violate free parking?  If you try and pay will they ticket you?  I suppose the county has more important things to do than clear up this conundrum.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

So I went to the grocery store this morning....

I went food shopping early this morning and I would say there is no reason to panic about empty shelves.  Yes, there were a lot of products that were out, but it seemed to be more about them being able to restock fast enough.  Take the above picture, it looks like there is no bread right?  But it it because there is a shortage or just because the daily bread delivery hasn't arrived?  I believe it is the latter, because if you look closely you see there is bread at the far end of the shelf.  That is the full stocking of Martin's potato bread products (sliced bread and various types of rolls).

While I was there I saw about 8 people stocking shelves.  The two cards on the left of the above picture is full of pasta sauce and pasta noodles, straight ahead is a pallet of flour and sugar.  I also saw a pallet of various types of tomatoes at the front of the store and two employees were getting ready to restock the prepared lettuces and salads.
At the time I was there they only had matchstick cut carrots which was disappointing.

I also found it interesting that there was no organic milk but plenty of non-organic milk.  I don't know if that is a commentary on the people who live in Bethesda or if they had just re-stocked one type of milk and hadn't yet got to the other.



Saturday, March 7, 2020

RIP Whittier Woods ES

 The demolition has started on the old site of Whittier Woods Elementary school located on Whittier Blvd in Bethesda, MD.

The building is being torn down to make way for the expansion of Walt Whitman High School next door.  When completed the addition will house a dance studio, five science labs and 18 classrooms and will also have a courtyard area.

This site most recently held Petals Child Development Center, and before that whittier Woods Center / Kenwood Park Children's Center.

The front part of the building is completely torn down, but a significant part of the back of the building remains.

This Saturday the demolition was still proceeding, moving debris and sorting the metal from the rest.


By the end of the day all was quiet and there were piles of neatly sorted rubble.  Bricks in one spot, metal in another, and a big pile of wood and miscellaneous construction bits.  There is still part of the building standing so they are not done.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Construction starting at the WMAL field



For the past 5 years Toll Brothers has been planning on redeveloping the WMAL transmitter field located at 7115 Greentree Rd in Bethesda, MD.  They have developed the plans and gotten the approvals, but there hasn't been much in the line of changes on the ground.

This week there have been changes.  They have fenced off most of the field and were actively working around one of the radio towers when I was there.


The field has long had a path running long the edge making a large 1.25 mile circuit that is popular with runners and dog walkers.  The fence impacts this path in a number of places.  From Greentree Road around to Derbyshire lane there are on or two short stretches where you have a narrow spot between the fence and the brush, but these are easily navigated.


From Derbyshre to Renita Lane the fence is far from the path and doesn't cause any problems.


 However, getting from Greentree road to Renita Lane along the I-495 side of the field requires being a bit more adventurous.  The fence is very close to the brush for the whole length.

  While I was there I did see a local resident trimming back some tree branches, so this route may get easier over the next week or two.

What's next?  Before construction starts in earnest, those radio towers need to come down.  They stopped being used on May 1, 2018 so that is not an impediment.  It looks like that is what they are working on and they could come down very soon.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Fixing up the playground at Stratton Park



 Part of the playground at Stratton Park in Bethesda, MD is closed off for improvements.  This closure is expected to last until the summer.


 The closure only affects the swings and some of the grassy area, the remainder of the playground and the park remain open.


 The reason for this closure is to replace aging sewer pipes.  It looks like they have replaced at least some of the wooden beams that define the playground too.