Thursday, November 24, 2022

It's the 40th annual Turkey Chase this morning


Battery Lane.  Currently you can only go one direction (Towards MD-355), the other direction is closed to vehicles.

It's Thanksgiving morning, and that means it is time to go for a pre-thanksgiving overload race.  This year the YMCA again sponsored the Turkey Chase 10k run and 2 mile walk/run.  This is the 40th annual run and it is back to being in-person.  You can also participate in some virtual evens now through the 28th. There is a virtual 10k, 5k, and 2 mile walk/run as well as a virtual 10 mile bike ride and 400 yard and 1 mile swim.

Old Georgetown Road and Lucas Lane

Northbound Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda has one lane closed.  Be careful if you are driving, runners sometimes pass other runners by going around the orange cones and entering the edge of the travel lane.

Old Georgetown Road and Greentree Road/South Drive

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

National Museum of African American History and Culture

 This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It was fairly crowded but well worth seeing.  Afterwards I took this late afternoon photo of the building with the leaves on the trees turning colors.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Amalyn Housing Development update


I have been tracking the Amalyn housing development in Bethesda since the very beginning. This development is in the 75 acre field that used to be the home of the WMAL radio transmitter towers.  Since my last update in May they have been preparing the site on the east side of the project, between Derbyshire Ln and Renita Ln.  Now they have started building houses in that area. The first two are in progress.

Here is another view of those two houses, notice how there isn't much around them.  You can see they have also started laying out the roads in this area. It may not look like much, but before they get to this point they have already put in all the water and sewer pipes. You can see a red fire hydrant in the middle of the picture.  The road going left to right is Silver Linden Street. (Derbyshire is directly behind the camera and Renita is way in the distance in the middle).

Here's another section of newly laid out road. They recently seeded the area directly in front of the camera.  Renita Lane is top right, the houses in the distance are on Corkran. I believe the road in this picture will be named Isabella Street.

Back in the main section there is a lot to see. On the right, with the light and dark gray side is the first row of townhouses they built. To the left of that is the second row.  Far left is a house still under construction and far right is another row of townhouses being built.

I think this is Glasswing Alley. Some of the roads have a layer of blacktop on them. They are in the process of building a house on the left.

There are still bits and pieces left from the WMAL radio transmitter site. The three concrete piers that held one of the radio towers remain on their side. They have sat here unmoved all summer.

The various bits of concrete that have been dug up are piled in a pit. It is mostly concrete that fence posts were set in, but there are also some that the smaller transmitters were mounted on.

The last remaining radio transmitter building had open doors.  There used to be one of these at the base of each radio tower.

There isn't much to see here, a  few bags of trash and an old rack for rack-mount computers. It is a bit disappointing.

Prior coverage of Amalyn:

Construction scheduled to start on the WMAL field (Toll Brothers Amalyn project) (April 9, 2021)

The fence harvest came early this year (April 27, 2021)

Initial site work at Amalyn Bethesda (former WMAL radio tower location) (May 6, 2021)

Erosion Control at Amalyn Bethesda site (May 16, 2021)

Clearing trees for the road at Amalyn Bethesda (May 28, 2021)

Building the road at Amalyn Bethesda (former WMAL site) (July 31, 2021)

Paving Greyswood Rd in the Amalyn development (February 13, 2022)

Amalyn Update (April 3, 2022)

A new area gets silt fencing at Amalyn Bethesda (May 2, 2022)

More houses at the Amalyn development (May 24, 2022)

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Rae apartments, progressing construction

Rae parking entrance

 By Montgomery Mall and Home Depot, Folger-Pratt is building "The Rae", a 343 unit apartment building backing up to the I-270 spur.  This site was formerly occupied by Ourisman Ford.

Rae parking entrance

The back side of the Rae

They have put the final exterior coverings on parts of the building.  The I-270 spur is just beyond the trees in the right of the photo.

The Rae apartments from Home Depot

I have written about this project a few times:

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Solaire Bethesda construction


Solaire Bethesda peeks above the ground
Solaire Bethesda at 7607 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda is going to be a 198 unit apartment building with a tiny 1,500 feet of retail space. I've been watching this for a while, but sometimes you just don't feel like posting about holes in the ground (other times you just can't get enough of it).

Solaire Bethesda from Commerce Ln

The first 3 (of an eventual 22) floors rise above Commerce Lane. This will be a narrow-but-tall building.

Solaire Bethesda from Bethesda Place Plaza

The back of Solaire Bethesda as seen from Bethesda Place Plaza. Only the top floor is visible.

I haven't posted about this project before, but I did post about La Madeleine back in 2010.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Woodward High School construction update


Woodward High School construction continues.  The steel frame of the building is up and a cinderblock core exists on the left side of it.  The plan is to have it ready for the 2022-2023 school year and move Northwood High School there for two years while that building gets rehabilitated.  After that it will re-open although the school boundaries haven't been determined yet.

Charles W. Woodward High School was established in 1966 and closed in 1987, it's students were re-districted to Walter Johnson High School. The building was used by Springbrook High School while it was being renovated then by Tilden Middle School while their facilities were re-built. Demolition of the old building started in February of 2021 (see below for posts I did about the demolition).

I actually took these pictures a week ago but was too busy to put them up. I don't think that much has changed in a week.

Previous update:

Updates about the demolition of the old building:

Sunday, October 16, 2022

St. Elmo Apartments construction


This is the future site of St. Elmo Apartments as seen from Fairmont Avenue, with Bistro Provence to the left of it.  Although it is Called St. Elmo, it fronts both St. Elmo Ave and Fairmont Ave. When finished it will be a 22-story mixed-use development with 276 apartments and 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. This building has a ways to go, but it is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2024 so they still have time.

St Elmo's hole

The excavation for St. Elmo Apartments.  Yes, it is another hole in the ground, I've been looking at a lot of these lately. Massive metal tubes, presumably to keep the sides from collapsing, cross the site diagonally.

Another view of the excavation for St. Elmo Apartments. Bainbridge Bethesda is behind it on the left side of the photo.

4915 Auburn construction

 Another hole in the ground. This is the site of the 4915 Auburn Avenue development (link to pdf of site plan). it will have 180 dwelling units and 12,500 square feet of "non-residential use".  The site was previously occupied by the Auburn Professional Building. You can see an existing building to the left, a small retail building on the corner of Auburn and Woodmont to the right, and housing directly behind the site.  This is a project of Potomac Development Group, it looks like they are calling it 4909 Auburn Avenue Apartments.

Top down view of the 4915 Auburn Ave construction


Looking almost directly down, you can mostly see the hole which encompasses the full site except a narrow strip on the far edge of the property. Surrounding the crane is some new concrete.

Construction entrance

The construction entrance for the 4915 Auburn Avenue development is actually on Woodmont Ave. You can see Imagination Stage and the parking garage behind the construction.

Auburn Ave and surroundings

Auburn Avenue as seen from the top of the parking deck. the development directly below and to the left, Battery Lane Park is somewhat visible behind the crane with the building containing the Primrose School next to it. In the middle is the Sherwin-Williams Paints store with Brightview Woodmont directly behind it. On the right side is the parking garage and Gallery Bethesda towering above everything else.

Previous posts:

8015 Old Georgetown construction


Old Georgetown Road on the left, Glenbrook Road int he foreground, and B-CC rescue squad behind it.

Today has been a really nice fall day and I decided to walk around Bethesda, MD checking up on some of the construction projects that are going on.  Here's the first one I looked at, the 8015 Old Georgetown Rd development (pdf link to the planning board submission).  This is the site of the old Christ Lutheran Church, it is being replaced with about 297 apartments.

From this perspective it basically looks like a hole in the ground, you can't see what they have accomplished very well.

The view from the Northwest

The North-west corner of the site.  From here you can see they have put in a retaining wall on the left side and are digging out the basement.

Excavation, Old Georgetown road on the right

It isn't obvious at first, but they actually have done a lot of grading to the site.  In the center you can see about a 15 foot tall pile of dirt. That wasn't built up there, that is what remains of the original ground. They removed everything around it, leaving just a small pile holding up a utility pole.

Previous posts:

Sunday, October 9, 2022

The Washington Monument at Dawn


The Washington Monument and the reflecting pool as seen from the Lincoln Memorial, about 10 minutes before sunrise.

One of the great things about living in the D.C. area is you can go see the monuments any time you want.  All too often, however, we forget about them. This morning I decided to take advantage of my location and go see the Washington Monument at sunrise.

The base of the Washington Monument at dawn


I got there early, which was a good thing since many of the roads were closed.  I didn't realize it at the time, but this morning was also the Army 10 miler.

The Washington Monument at dawn

You would think that going before sunrise there would be no one else around, but there were a few other people that had gotten there even earlier than me (it was also the day the full moon sets directly behind the Lincoln Memorial so I am sure there were some people there for that).  If you look closely you can see a couple of people leaning against the flag poles at the base of the monument.

The Washington Monument and the reflecting pool at sunrise

The Lincoln Memorial was even more crowded with people watching the sunrise from the steps. Finally, the sun rose, making it's way among the buildings to the right of me (that is south-east if you are curious).

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The D.C. Hot Air Balloon Festival is Today


The DC Hot Air Balloon Festival is this weekend (More information at that link). They have balloons, balloon rides, crafts, food trucks and music.  I went yesterday, but it continues today.

Gates open at 3pm, but they don't inflate the balloons until the winds are calm enough, yesterday they started just before 7pm. I decided to get there around 6pm but traffic to get onto the grounds was a mess, it took me more than half an hour of waiting in traffic to get to the gate.  I'm sure going early would have made it better.  Also, you can buy your tickets online or at the gate, but the lines at the gate where huge, definitely buy online before you go, it makes it much faster.  I wanted to get a balloon ride, but by the time I got there over 1,200 people were ahead of me in line (you hold your place via your phone so you don't need to stand in line the whole time).  By the time I left after 9pm, there were still more than 1,000 people in front of me, but I don't know how many of them had given up and gone home.  In summary, go early but be prepared to wait for the balloons.

They had a lot of food trucks there, well over a dozen, but the lines for all of them were long and slow.  I waited about 45 minutes for food.  I'd suggest bringing a picnic dinner with you, it would had made my trip more interesting.


Once the sun set they had a laser light show (I didn't get pictures because I was in a food truck line then was eating). All the while people are going up on balloon rides which continued for as long as I was there.  Watching the jets of fire and balloons going up and down is pretty relaxing.

Every once in a while they would give the balloon a short burst of flame and the whole thing would glow brightly.

So should you go?  I bet if you went with a group, you could have fun hanging out and watching the balloons.  I'd definitely plan on staying late to watch the balloons in the dark.  Also, bring food, get their early to avoid the traffic to park, and buy you tickets online to save time at the gate.  If you want a balloon ride, get there as soon as the gates open.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Woodward High School construction


The old Woodward High School (and Tilden Middle School) was demolished in the Spring of 2021 (see my posts here and here and here). Since then there hasn't been much to see. It has just been flat, bare ground with a construction fence around it.  They hadn't forgotten about it, but the work that was done wasn't very visible.  Now that has changed.  The are three stories of steel girders up outlining part of the new school.

Most of the site is still vacant, but there are piles of construction material in some places.

This project is officially called the "Charles W. Woodward High School Reopening Project" and you can get the full details of MCPS's plans at that link.  Construction will be in two phases.  Phase 1 will end at the start of the 2023 school year when it will be a holding school for Northwood HS while that school gets extensive remodeling.  For the 2025 school year it will be reopened as Woodward High School (unless the name gets changed). The boundaries for the new school haven't been determined but it is expected to relieve the crowding at local high schools such as Walter Johnson HS.

There will be a Phase 2 which will have at least a second gymnasium, auditorium, and athletic site amenities the timing for this phase is to start in the summer of 2023 and be finished in time for the 2025 school year.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Thoughts on having a PHEV for a year


I have had a Plug-in Hybrid RAV 4 for over a year now. I wrote about my experience here. I have charged in the Montgomery County public garages in Bethesda and Silver Spring on a regular basis. The cost is quite reasonable at 13 cents a kilowatt hour, but some of the chargers are broken. 

 Charging at publicly available chargers in other places is less convenient, there aren’t too many of them and keeping track of which network they are on is a hassle. The Volta chargers are free, but there are only a few of them I don’t go out of my way, but if they are there I’ll use them. The downtown Bethesda Safeway has them as does Montgomery Mall. I’m glad the public chargers exist, but I wish there were more of them and they were kept in better repair.

Here are the highlights of the longer article (but read it for more context):

  1. If you can charge at home or at work, PHEV’s are a great option, they save money on fuel and are better for the environment

  2. I drive about 80% of my miles on electric. All my local driving including work commutes is electric, long distance trips are in hybrid mode.

  3. Overnight charging using a simple 120 volt outlet is convenient and I don’t miss trips to the gas stations.

  4. Charging during the day rarely adds a useful amount of miles. (but if I could charge at work it would be great)

  5. My home electric rate is 14 cents per KWH, this works out to the equivalent of $1.50 a gallon gas.

  6. I wish all PHEV’s supported at least 6.6KW AC charging and DC Fast Charging. This would make them even better.

  7. All hotels should have at least a Level 2 charger. This would make overnight trips much easier. Even having 120 volt electrical outlets would also be useful for me, not many hotels have those either.



Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Reflections of Windows

In the morning, the sunlight reflects of windows onto the blank wall of Garage 35, the Woodmont-Rugby Garage.