Monday, May 10, 2021

The cicadas have arrived in Bethesda!


 I was walking around Bethesda, MD this morning and noticed the first advance troops of cicadas on the trees.  They weren't everywhere, some trees would have a dozen or so, others just a couple, but most trees didn't have any yet.  That will change in the coming days.

When they start coming out en-masse scenes such as this will be common.  Here you have a few cicadas still emerging from their exoskeleton and a couple who have just finished emerging but whose wings are still wrinkled up.


As they rest, their wings expand to full size. Notice they are very pale, it takes them a few hours to darken and for their bodies to harden.


They don't limit themselves to just the tree trunks, they climb out onto the small branches and leaves.  They'll be everywhere.




Friday, May 7, 2021

Woodward High School / Tilden Middle School demolition: another update

 

The demolition of Woodward High School / Tilden Middle School in North Bethesda (or Rockville if you want to call it that) is complete.  The building is entirely gone and all the debris cleared away.  The only evidence of its existence is the concrete slab the school was set on.

A few trees that were in front of the school remain, looking a bit lonely behind the construction fence.  If I were them, I would be nervous.

The slab itself is in the process of being removed. In a few places it was above the ground on short concrete pillars.





Thursday, May 6, 2021

Initial site work at Amalyn Bethesda (former WMAL radio tower location)


 Toll Brothers has started doing some site prep work for the Amalyn Bethesda housing development.  This development is located at the former WMAL radio broadcast tower location in Bethesda near the I-270 spur.  They are digging narrow  trenches around the perimeter of where it looks like work will be done.

At recent construction projects (such as the demolition of Woodward High School) I have noticed that the fence around the project is set in a trench and has fabric at the base, this keeps any storm water runoff from filling streams with silt.  It looks to me like that is what is happening here.  Often times the fence is only about 18 inches tall, I hope that is the height they use here (and not a 6 foot tall fence which could totally block access)


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The fence harvest came early this year


 Due to the nice weather this week, we were able to harvest the fences a little early this year.  Here they are all stacked up and ready for market.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Crossing River Road near Whitman High School

 It seems like this crossing has been under construction for a long time without much progress being made recently.

This is the crosswalk that is being replaced, it is on the Westbound side of River Road (Maryland Route 190) in Bethesda. There is no intersection or signal at this location.


This crosswalk on the eastbound side of river road is not being replaced, however, you can see a traffic light is being added.


After crossing Eastbound River Road, but before crossing Westbound River Road, the sidewalk sweeps up towards the top of a hill.

The new crosswalk across Westbound River Road is near the top of the hill, giving pedestrians better visibility.  There will also be a streetlight and a traffic light here.

After crossing river road, you will be able to continue right towards Walt Whitman High School, or left towards the old crossing.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Woodward High School / Tilden Middle School demolition update

 

The demolition of Woodward High School / Tilden Middle School in North Bethesda is almost complete, only the front right part of the school with the school name and one rear wall remain. I am happy they left the wall with the name until the end.


Here's a wider shot, the school used to cover the whole left side and more. The three trees you see still standing are directly across from the exit to Old Georgetown Road.


From the rear, you can see very little of the school remains, just part of the back wall and the front right corner are left.  Much of the rubble has also been cleared. Next to the back wall there is a pile of wood and to the right of the front wall is a pile of crushed cinder block.



You often don't realize how big a building is until its gone.  This was taken from the side of the school, looking towards the remaining walls.  Towards the front is a pile of scrap metal.  Most of the metal and other rubble has already been removed.

The school opened in the late 1960's as Charles W. Woodward High School. Due to declining enrollment, the school was closed in the late 1980's. It later housed Tilden Middle school while that school was it was undergoing a major renovation.  Tilden moved out in the summer of 2020.

After the site is cleared, a new high school will be built here and will be used as a holding school for two years while Northwood High School is rebuilt.  In 2025 the school will reopen for students, probably as Woodward High School, however it may also be renamed as Josiah Hensen High School.



Saturday, April 17, 2021

Improvements coming to the intersection of Fernwood Rd and Democracy Blvd

Later this year there will be major changes coming to the intersection of Fernwood Road and Democracy Boulevard in Bethesda, Maryland. This changes will be disruptive while they are occuring but will hopefully make the traffic exiting Fernwood onto Democracy flow more quickly.

The most noticable change will be here.  Instead of one left turn only lane there will be two left turn only lanes.  There will still be a single right turn only lane. This turn is a major slowdown during the evening rush hour and should allow many more cars to make the turn each light cycle.

 


 Even with the change, you still won't be able to go straight across Democracy Blvd to continue on Fernwood Rd.  This includes bikes, which currently have to do a time consuming crosswalk maneuver where they cross Fernwood, then cross Democracy, then cross Fernwood again. But this will also be made easier.

 


 Part of the improvements will be adding a crosswalk across Democracy Boulevard here.  This will make it easier for bikes and pedestrians to cross and it will make it faster for drivers turning left since the won't have to wait for people in the crosswalk as often.

 


 There will also be changes to the protected right turn slip lanes at the intersection. The concrete triangle will be made smaller and the radius of the turn will be reduced so it will be tighter at all four corners. I'm not exactly sure why this is being done, but I believe these high entry angle slip lanes are to reduce the risk of collision.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Coming soon! the 17 year cicadas

 

My favorite anachronistic insect is on its way.  The 17 year periodical cicadas should be out in force very soon.  Even as we speak, they are lurking just below the surface, biding their time.  For 17 years they have dwelt deep in the ground, feasting on sap from the roots of trees. Now, they are burrowing up to the surface, waiting for the time to be right.

The rain yesterday evening flooded these poor creatures out. I took these photos just after it ended and I expect they will crawl back down into their burrows when it dries out.

I'm amazed these creatures can survive in a dynamic suburban environment like Bethesda.  The last time they were here was in 2004, think about how much has changed since then.  How many new or enlarged houses, how many widened roads, how many trees cut down and new trees planted.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Construction scheduled to start on the WMAL field (Toll Brothers Amalyn project)

 

Toll Brothers is getting ready to start construction on their Amalyn project which will be over 300 single family houses and townhouses on the former WMAL radio tower field at 7115 Greentree Road in Bethesda, Maryland. This week they stakes sporting flags have been sprouting on the field as they prepare for the work.

They recently sent a letter to residents about the construction outlining the initial work. In it they state they will first be installing tree protection and sediment control features.

The current end of Greyswood Road

Workers will be accessing the property from the Greyswood Road entrance and the first thing they do will be to connect Greyswood and Greentree roads.  Greyswood Road currently dead-ends at a stand of trees, so those trees will have to be horrifically mangled and tragically destroyed cut down and removed. All work vehicles and equipment will be parked on the property and not on any of the streets surrounding it.  Construction should be limited to the hours of 7am to 5pm.

The current end of Greentree Road
As part of the project, some improvements will be made to existing streets, primarily Greyswood Rd.  Greyswood will get some traffic claming devices and some more street trees. New sidewalks will be added along Greentree Road and Derbishire Lane along the proporties frontage. This work is expected to be completed by Fall of this year.
 

proposed site plan from Toll Brothers



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The cherry blossoms are blooming


 The cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Bethesda now.  If you get a chance look for some.  A great place to see them is along the Capital Crescent Trail near Dorset Avenue.