Saturday, July 31, 2021

Building the road at Amalyn Bethesda (former WMAL site)


Construction continues on at the Amalyn Bethesda housing project (at the site of the former WMAL broadcast towers).  You can now clearly see the path of the road  that will connect Greyswood Road and Greentree Road. The road itself will be in the portion of dirt that is about 6 inches lower than the rest (on the left).  Greyswood Rd is just behind the construction equipment in the center of the photo.

One standing and one fallen concrete monoliths with construction equipment in the background.  As far as I can tell, they are not full of stars.  They are the footings for one of the radio transmitter towers that used to be located at this site, most of each of them was buried under the ground with only the top couple of feet exposed. 

 A number of pieces of construction equipment parked in the field near Greyswood Road. In the foreground is a large concrete monolith that was one of the footings for the now-removed radio transmitter towers.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Demolition of the former Ourisman car dealership

 The long-vacant Ourisman car dealersship on Motor City Drive up by the Home Depot and Montgomery Mall has finally been demolished.  The plan is to put apartments on this site.  The building is fully down and there are just a few bits of metal girders left

 Here is how it looked when I last took a picture of it in December of 2020.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Cicada learners permit

 Cicadas may have just emerged, but they spent seventeen years underground. That means they are old enough to drive!  I took this one to get it's learners permit last week even though I doubt it will live the nine months required to get it's provisional license.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Clearing trees for the road at Amalyn Bethesda

 One of the first things that is being done for the Amalyn Bethesda housing development is to connect Greentree Rd and Greyswood Rd. They have started clearing trees at the end of Greentree Rd to allow for this work to start.

 Here is how Greentree road looks now. All the trees and brush has been removed.  

 This is from the field, looking at the dead-end of Greentree Road. Prior to this, the trees and brush were dense enough that you couldn't see Greentree from here.


 For comparison, here is how the end of Greentree Road looked earllier this spring.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Young Love (cicada style)

 "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Now that the cicada's have been out a little while, and the racket they make has grown increasingly loud, it should come as no surprise that the singing is starting to pay off, at least for this lucky fellow and equally lucky lass.  They are especially lucky that no one stepped on them while they lay in ecstasy on the sidewalk.

After spending today listening to the cicadas, I was a bit surprised tonight to not hear them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Little Falls Trail almost back to normal


They have been working on replacing the bridges on Little Falls Trail in Bethesda, MD since last fall, but the end is in sight now.  The bridges themselves have been open for a while, although one of them still doesn't have a ramp up to it.  They are in the process (and have been for a couple of weeks) of removing the thick layer of mulch they put down over the trail to protect it.  The very end of the trail, near Albermarle Street still has a big pile of mulch and some heavy duty wood planks but the rest has been cleared.

The trail here used to have about a foot of wood mulch over it, all has been removed and the trail swept clean. There is still some construction equipment parked along the trail.

After the clean up, they relandscape the area. Relandscaping might be a strong word for what they are doing, but after carefully cleaning up all the mulch and clearing a couple of feet on each side of the trail, they are putting straw down over the bare dirt.  I suspect they put grass seed under the straw.

Not everything is complete, there are a couple of places where the trail has been torn up and needs to be replaced, primarily at Albermarle St, the ramp leading to one of the bridges, and the area where the rebuilt a drainage creek that goes under the trail.  After that, everything will be back to normal, but as of now, as long as you don't require handicap accessibility it is fully usable.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A couple of Cicada videos

Here are a couple of videos I have taken of the cicada attack.

This first video is a time-lapse of a Brood X cicada molting on a blade of grass.  This time-lapse was taken over a period of about 2.5 hours one night. One picture every 15 seconds.  Where a cicada walks over the emerging one and where the emerging cicada flips so it is holding onto its shell I have duplicated each photo 4 times to slow it down and make it easier to see what is happening.


This next video isn't a time lapse, it is just a view of about 20 cicada nymphs crawling aimlessly through the grass.  I was taking a timelapse of a molting cicada at night so had a couple of lights turned on, it appears the nymphs are attracted to light.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Some Brood X Cicada Photos


The cicadas are out in force and for the past week or so I've been watching them and taking pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites.


These Brood X cicadas have been underground for 17 years, but now they are climbing out and onto trees and plants. Once out, they do a final molt to their winged form.  They will only live for about a month longer during which time they will mate and lay eggs.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Timelapse of cicadas molting


I took this timelapse video of a couple of cicada nymphs  molting and their wings expanding. One cicada starts molting then another climbs on top of it and also starts molting.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A newly molted Cicada


I took this photo of a newly molted cicada a couple of nights ago.  Last week they were only coming out some evenings, but this week it has been every night, and each night there are more and more of them.  They have only been emerging in the warmer areas, ground that is in shade for much of the day still hasn't released it's hordes.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Erosion Control at Amalyn Bethesda site


Just over a week ago they started doing work on the silt fence that will go around the Amalyn Bethesda construction site.  Now, they have installed the fence.  Interesting to me is that even though they used a giant saw to cut a narrow slit trench (that was plenty wide for the fence), they went over it again with a small excavator and widened it to about a foot an a half.  Then, they put in the erosion controling sediment/silt fence, put the dirt back, and have now put straw on the ground outside the fence.  This fence is supposed to keep any dirt that the rain washes away contained within the construction site.

When the WMAL radio towers were here they were grounded with copper radiating out from each tower.  I believe these copper straps were what was used. They are buried several inches under the soil and go nearly to the edge of the property.  Many of them have been pulled out and in a couple of places parts of the straps are lying on the ground.

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.

Monday, March 29, 2021

The demolition of Woodward High School / Tilden Middle School

Montgomery County Public Schools is replacing the former Tilden Middle School (At Charles W. Woodward) with a new high school.  Before it was Tilden, it was Woodward High School.  The building is being razed and a new building will be raised. It will re-open as Woodward High School in a few years.


Demolition is well under way at the site. There are piles of rebar, metal beam, and other bits of the building. Here you can see some what good venilation they have for these classrooms.

The far wall of this exposed hallway has red and yellow lockers lining it. There are piles of rubble in the foreground on both sides.


A section of the wall has been torn out to allow work crews to access the building more easily.