Saturday, December 12, 2020

Was "The Hulk" here?

 I was walking by the old Ourisman dealership on Motor City Drive up by the Home Depot and Montgomery Mall and saw this. It sure looks like the Incredible Hulk busted through this door to escape.



Monday, November 30, 2020

Another accident at the big curve


Another rainy day, another accident on the outer loop of Interstate 495 at the "Big Curve" in Bethesda, MD. Traffic is backed up past Old Georgetown Road and the backup continues to grow, even though some lanes do get by. According to WTOP, this happened about 10 minutes until 1pm and the two left lanes are blocked.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Construction closes a portion of the Little Falls trail


The Little Falls Trail bridge closest to the Dalecarlia tunnel has been closed for some planned improvements.  I posted about this construction back in September, and it has now started.  This bridge (P17-01) is being replaced, the trail in the area will be repaved, and there will be drainage improvements and stream channel stabilization.  More information is available on the county website.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Removing the demolished WMAL radio towers

 After the WMAL radio towers were demolished Wednesday morning, they almost immediately started cutting them up and removing them.  The three near Greentree Rd were removed on Thursday and Friday, then on Monday they returned to remove the tower near Renita Ln.  By Monday evening there was just a small amount of cut-up steel lying on the ground.

 The powerful machine you see here would cut through the tower, breaking it down in to a managable size.  It could then pick it up and move it out of the way. the segment looks small, but notice at the bottom part you can see the ladder that went up the tower, this is a good sized chunk of metal.

 While one machine was cutting the tower up, another would scoop up the cut metal debris and move it to the edge of the property for pick-up.

 Here the machine reaches out and takes a bite from the tower. Another tower lies in the background.

 As powerful as the machine is, it can also gently grasp the fallen metal and pick it up, moving it away from the main tower. At this point there is just a stub remaining.

 After the tower was completely cut up, the only thing remaining was to pick up piles of metal and move them to the edge of the property.

 The once majestic towers are reduced to piles of metal like this, just waiting to be picked up and disposed of.


If you missed it, you can read my post about the demolition and the field of fallen giants

Friday, November 6, 2020

The Field of Fallen Giants (WMAL Radio tower demolition)


The towers were demolished on Wednesday the 4th and for the past couple of days I have walked around the field checking out how things are going.  This post is about the towers now that they are down on the ground.  Here are the three of towers closest to Greentree Road,  they used to stand majestically, all in a row.  Now they have been knocked down and lie in the field.

Here is the tower closest to Renita Lane, this former colossus looks like it is relaxing on the ground, having gotten tired of standing.

These two towers fell across each other and lie in the field.  In the background you can see a smaller tower that has also been knocked down.

This tower bent over as it fell.  It also took out part of the roof of the small building that was at it's base.  Three of the four towers bent like this.

Unlike the others, this one pulled away from its mounting pad as it fell, like a tree ripped up by the roots.

This machine will cut the towers into pieces.  Here they are getting it ready to go.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The WMAL radio towers have been demolished.


Promptly at 9am this morning  the WMAL radio broadcast towers were brought down with carefully timed explosive charges.  There were a reasonably sized group of people at the Renita Lane entrance to the towers where I was.  Earlier in the morning I spoke to one of the people who was detonating the charges and he said that the plan was to do a quick perimeter sweep right at 9am and set them off as soon after that as possible.  He was planning to be safely behind his truck, out of sight of the towers.  Everyone was kept well behind the fence, right at the edge of the property so the chance of any debris coming that far was very small.

In addition to the normal neighborhood people, there were several who grew up in the area but no longer lived there, including one person I talked to who had climbed all four towers as a teenager, and been arrested as he came down from one.

The towers were removed so that the Amalyn Bethesda project consisting of 309 single family houses and townhouses can be built in this area. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The WMAL radio towers are coming down this week


After a long delay, the WMAL radio antenna towers on Greentree Rd in Bethesda, MD are scheduled for demolition later this week.  The towers will be brought down in a controlled explosion no earlier than Wednesday November 4th.  The original plan was to demolish them earlier this year, but they hadn't done all the needed conservation work on the site.

All the permits are posted at the entrance to the site. From left to right: Explosives permit, Demoliton permit, Sediment Control Permit, Right-of-way construction permit.

They have the notices posted at several entrances to the field so no one misses them.

The towers are being removed so that the Amalyn Bethesda project consisting of 309 single family houses and townhouses can be built in this area.  In order to get planning board approval they also donated a portion of this field as a potential school site.

This project has been in progress for a number of years.   I first posted about it more than 5 years ago, in July of 2015.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Hawk beacons at Democracy Blvd and Walter Johnson H.S. are now working

I noticed that the new  HAWK beacons are now active along Democracy Blvd near Walter Johnson High School.  HAWK beacons are normally dark, but when activated by a pedestrian, they turn yellow, then red.  This provides a safe opportunity for people to cross the street.

This is a very important place to have them since (in normal years when children actually go to school buildings) many kids cross this busy street on their way to and from school.  They also make it easier to walk from the neighborhood to the Giant Food store and other shops at Georgetown Square. These signals are a big improvement over the old flashing yellow crosswalk signals since those were always active even when no one was around.  These only activate when a person pushes the button for the walk signal.

There are two of them, one for each of the two crosswalks that flank Davis Library.  When activated you have 30 seconds to cross the street, which is more than enough time for most people to cross.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Monarch Buterfly Chrysalis and more

Green Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis

In yesterday's post I talked about how many Monarch Butterfly caterpillars I had this summer and how they kept disappearing.  Not all of them did, however. One day I came out to find a caterpillar hanging upside down from a leaf, looking mostly dead.  After a day of that, it turned into this beautiful green chrysalis.  I looked around on the web and found out that they stay in this stage for a little over two weeks.  I'd check on it every few days, but after about two and a half weeks I was getting concerned.

Transparent Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis

Then, a couple of days ago, I found that the chrysalis was semi-transparent and you could see the butterfly's wings through it.  This was encouraging, but as I kept checking it, it seemed to darken and no butterfly was emerging.  The next day I was away from the house, but when I came home...

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis, post emergence

The chrysalis was just an empty shell.  The Monarch Butterfly had emerged!  I started looking all around to see if I could find it.

A newly emerged Monarch Butterfly

After a short hunt, I saw it on a plant.  As I got closer it tried to fly away, but it couldn't, so it kind of glided to the ground and sat there, wings shaking a bit.  I left it a while and when I looked again it had made it back to a plant and appeared to be sleeping with it's wings folded.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Monarch Catepillars

A Monarch Butterfly egg

I planted milkweed a couple of years ago, hoping to attract Monarch Butterflies.  I didn't see any until earlier this year when one came by to lay some eggs.  In the photo above you can see a tiny speck of an egg on the bottom of a milkweed leaf.

A very, very small Monarch Butterfly caterpillar

I was very excited when I found a number of eggs and they started hatching and I saw tiny little black, yellow, and white striped Monarch caterpillars. 

As the caterpillars started growing, I noticed that many of them simply disappeared without a trace.  I saw a yellow jacket eating one but I don't know if the yellow jacket killed it or happened across it after it died.

Some of them got quite large, but they also disappeared.  There seems to be something that eats them.  It wasn't uncommon for me to have half a dozen on a single plant and about one a day disappear until they were all gone. It is possible some of them crawled off to make a chrysalis, but I suspect most of them became dinner for something.  This photos are not of the same caterpillar, they are of many different ones.

Sometimes I'd have two or three Monarch caterpillars eating the same leaf.

Despite the heavy casualties, there were some successes, I'll talk about them tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Fall colors

 On Sunday I went for a hike along the Northwest Branch and saw this interesting bit of fall color.  The last few feet of the tree branch is brilliant red, but closer to the trunk the leaves are still green.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Hiking the Northwest Branch south of Colesville Road

 On Route 29, Colesville Road is Burnt Mills East park, it is on the same side of the road as the Trader Joe's and California Tortilla.  This park has a reasonably sized parking area and a number of nice trails.  Facing the trailheads, the trail on the right is closest to the Northwest Branch and it is called the Fall Line trail.  It Proceeds downstream and ends when it meets the Northwest Branch trail.  On the left is the Northwest Branch trail. In this area it is higher up the hill than the Northwest Branch stream, but it will eventually come down and meet the stream where the Fall Line Trail ends.  The Fall line trail is the steeper, rockier of the two trails and is only suitable for hiking, whereas the Northwest Branch trail has been designed to allow biking too.

Another trail in the area is the Copperhead Run trail.  There are 3 "chute" trails that connect it to the Northwest Branch.

The Northwest Branch itself is a good-size stream.  In many places it is rocky, but other areas are smooth and placid.

One of the interesting, but noisy, sights is where Interstate 495 crosses the stream.  The bridge is high above the trees, and although you can hear the traffic, when you are walking south it is hard to see the bridge until you are right under it.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Walt Whitman High School Construction Update

Walt Whitman High School is in the middle of a 24.5 million dollar expansion.  I first posted about this in early March of this year when they started tearing down the old Whittier Woods Elementary School, but now things look a lot different.

The building is just beginning to take shape, with some of the steel beams and concrete block walls being put up.  In the foreground there will eventually be a parking lot.


 The existing Walt Whitman H.S. is on the left, the road goes to the loading dock.  On the right is where the new expansion connects to the school.

For comparison, here is a photo I took back in 2008 when the school was still standing.

If you'd like more information about what is going on, here is an article on Bethesda Beat about the expansion, and you can look at this PDF of the different options they considered.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Construction on the Little Falls Trail

 Construction is starting on improvements to the Little Falls Stream Valley Park and the Little Falls hiker-biker paved trail.  The work is scheduled for late summer 2020 (ie, now) through Spring of 2021 and will close portions of the trail.

Two pedestrian bridges that connect the trail to the Capital Crescent Trail near Westmoreland hills and near the Dalecarlia tunnel will be replaced. (For those of you who have memorized every bridge in the area and the designations the Montgomery County Department of Parks has given them, they are bridges P17-01 and P17-02, there will be a quiz later.)  In addition to replacing the bridges, the trail in the area will be repaved, there will be drainage improvements and stream channel stabilization.

Footbridge P17-01 on the left.

Markers along the trail in preparation for the construction

P17-02 and Little Falls stream

More information is available on the county website.

And now for the promised quiz, there is just one question:

Who gives bridges names like P17-01 and P17-02?

Friday, September 4, 2020

Walking around Bethesda at night

 Wednesday night, after the rain, I went for a walk around Downtown Bethesda.  It was a cool and quiet evening.  Here are some photos I took, starting with the new mural on the parking garage on Woodmont Avenue near Battery Lane.

Veterans Plaza, where Woodmont and Norfolk Avenues meet.  

Woodmont Market

Sala Thai

California Tortilla