Monday, August 31, 2009

Light rail other places.

Now that the Purple Line is going to be light rail for sure (unless they change their mind) I thought I would look in to it a bit more. I decided to go to San Jose, CA and take a look at their light rail. In the city center it runs down the center of the road. While waiting for trains to come by I talked a bit to a security guard about it.

One of the big questions I had was about the distance between the Capital Crescent Trail and the tracks, is this really necessary? Clearly there isn't any distance or even fences in downtown San Jose. Finish The Trail likes putting up pictures of light rail with grass tracks that have little separation between the tracks and trails and a low or non-existent fence. The plans for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase portion of the Purple line call for more than 10 feet of separation and a fence and a height difference.

One thing I noticed about the San Jose light rail is that it is slow. You could easily keep up with it if you were on a bike, maybe a good runner could too. Apparently, this is for safety. It has to go slow enough it can stop for cars and people who are not where they are supposed to be. When it gets out of the city, it to goes in a fenced rail corridor and goes a lot faster. So that is the trade-off. Fences and separation lets you go faster.

The trains generally have their own lane that is physically separated from the traffic lanes. People sometimes mistake these lanes for turn lanes and go in them. The stations are right along the road, either in the middle of the road or on the edge (like in the second picture)

Top picture: Turning light rail. First St, San Jose, CA
Second picture: A light rail train pulls into a station on First St in San Jose, CA

Both pictures Copyright 2009 G. Edward Johnson. You are free to use them under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bethesda Fountains Part 4 (potd)

One way to make a fountain imposing but not too ostentatious is to have a wall of water. Stop 4 on our Bethesda fountain tour brings us to another of the fountains at Bethesda Metro Plaza in Bethesda, MD. This one is right next to the Quiznos. The water flows over the ledge in a solid sheet, becoming wavy as it reaches the bottom pool. On a hot day you can feel a slightly cool breeze coming from it, but on windy days drops of water can reach over to the tables.

Read all of the Bethesda fountains series.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When will Elm Street Park be finished?

Five months ago they started updating part of Elm Street park, I wrote about it then. In mid June I wrote an update. It looked like they were on track to finish the park in July. I even found this Gazette article. What happened after that? It seems not a whole lot. I have been going by there now and then to check up on it and they really haven't done much. The landscaping is done (and has been for two months) the last walkway was paved, and the new picnic tables are out of their boxes, but....

The picnic tables still aren't in position and the whole area is still blocked off. The only recent activity has been to put down some grass seed, if they are waiting for it to grow it will be another month or two until everything is ready.

[where: 4600 Elm St, Bethesda, MD]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The fair runs for a couple more days

The Montgomery County Fair runs through Saturday at Midnight. If you haven't been, you still have a couple of days left. If you have young children, the fair is great, they will love the rides and the animals (cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, etc) If you don't, check the schedule of events and see if there is something you like.

Tonight there is a Monster Truck show in the grandstand, it costs money to get in to, in addition to your fair entrance fee. Friday and Saturday nights there is a demolition derby in the grandstand area (again, for an additional fee).

If you have never seen pig racing, it is really fun, its free and is at 12, 2, 4, 6, and 8pm every day. They have races with pigs, as well as ones with goats an ones with ducks.

There is also the Wild West Follies show, honey bee demonstrations, chainsaw carving demonstrations, and various musical events during the day, check the schedule for times.

The Montgomery County Fair is in Gaithersburg Maryland, if you get off i-270 at exit 11 there will be signs directing you to it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bethesda Fountains Part 3 (potd)

It took me almost a month to get back to the Fountains of Bethesda, MD tour but here is our third stop. This one is a little out of the way. It is one of three fountains at Bethesda Metro Plaza. If you walk past the Quiznos and go down a short flight of steps you see it. It is a pedestal fountain with water coming over all sides of a shallow dish mounted on top.

Read all of the Bethesda fountains series.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heavy traffic on Northbound Wisconsin Ave in Bethesda, MD

All morning Pepco has been doing some utility work on Northbound Wisconsin Avenue (MD-355) between Montgomery Avenue and East-West Highway. They have closed the two right lanes, only a single lane gets through on the left.

As you might imagine, this is causing a significant traffic backup to form, I would advise avoiding this road if possible. Hopefully they will clear out before the evening rush.

It seems like me posting about a traffic problem is usually enough to get it to clear up, who knows if it will work this time.

UPDATE 4:00pm: they have now stopped work and completely cleared out of the area.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Free outdoor movies Aug 14-21

There is a free outdoor film festival August 14th through the 21st (2009) on the grounds of Strathmoor and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (by Grosvenor Metro) The movies start at 8:15 but you can go as early as 6:30 and start eating.

Here's the lineup:

  • Friday August 14th: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Saturday August 15th: Dark Knight

  • Sunday August 16th: Kung Fu Panda

  • Monday August 17th: Indiana Jones - Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

  • Tusday August 18th: Singin' In The Rain

  • Wednesday August 19th: Twilight

  • Thursday August 20th: Slumdog Millionaire

  • Friday August 21st: Madagascar 2, Africa

Watch a movie under the stars and enjoy food from Potomac Pizza, Hard Times Cafe, Baja Fresh, and Ben & Jerry's.

This is the 13th year of the festival which is sponsored by Comcast and benefits the NIH Children's Charities.

For more information you can see their website.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fire Dept called to "The Chase" on Edgemoor Ln in Bethesda

Today, a little after 1pm the fire department was called to "The Chase" apartments at 4903 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD. There was a vigorous response including several ladder trucks, a rescue squad, and various support vehicles.

I didn't see any sign of a fire and the building was not fully evacuated but the fire dept. had pulled out quite a bit of hose and turned the water on.

The activity closed Edgemoor Ln as well as Arlington Rd in the direction of Old Georgetown Rd near the Bethesda Library. As of 1:50pm both roads remain closed.

Update 2:35pm: All roads now opened, most of the equipment has left the scene.

Update 8/7: I have added a couple of pictures.

B-CC Rescue Squad gets a new sign

The slightly-old fashioned sign at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, MD has been replaced. The old one was one of those signs with the clip on black and red letters. The new one is a large red LED message sign like the one at Bethesda Fire Department on Democracy Blvd. The sign isn't active yet.

Update August 12: They were testing the sign this morning. There are Red, Green, and Blue lights so it looks like it will be colorful.

Update August 20: The sign has been running for a few days. It is nice and colorful but as I was driving it was hard to read the smaller words on it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bethesda's last Thursday night concert of the season

This Thursday, August 6th is the last evening concert in the free summer concert series. If you haven't made it out to one yet this is your last chance (until next year I hope). This week it Touch Of Intrigue (Variety Soul, Motown) is playing. The concerts are 6pm to 8pm in Veteran's Park which is at the corner of Woodmont Ave & Norfolk Ave in downtown Bethesda, MD. Go grab some dinner from a local restaurant (or pack a picnic) and enjoy some music outside.

The photos is from the June 15th concert, Bad Influence Band was playing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Today: Free burgers at South Street Steaks, Bethesda, MD

I was walking by South Street Steaks (4856 Cordell Ave. Bethesda, MD) this weekend and they had a sign in their window advertising that Today, Monday, August 3rd, 2009 they will be giving out Free Burgers just for stopping by, no purchase necessary. The promotion runs from 11am to 4pm and it is only at the Bethesda location (the Gaithersburg on is doing it tomorrow). It would, of course, be nice to buy something from them, but you don't have to. I'll probably be heading over there for lunch and since they have the best french fries in town and have Diet Dr. Pepper in the soda fountain, I'll get those too.

You can also keep track of what they are up to on twitter.

Update 2pm: I went there for lunch. The line wasn't obnoxious but it took some time to get through. I got a burger with cheese whiz (cheese was free today too). The overall burger is 1/3rd pound but it is two patties which I wasn't expecting. I got pickles on it and they were really good, a thick slice of tasty pickle, not the limp greenish thing you get at many places. The burger was a bit overdone but I am willing to blame that on it being free burger day. Although I liked it, I'll probably stick to getting cheese steaks there.