Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Fernwood Rd and Democracy Blvd intersection improvements


Fernwood intersection construction, northbound
This week Fernwood Road has been closed in both directions at Democracy Boulevard during the day for intersection improvements.  I got these photos yesterday afternoon, after they had re-opened the northbound (leaving Bethesda) lane.  These improvements have been in the planning stage for years, I last wrote about them in April of  2021!

New median on Fernwood Rd

The major changes will be on Northbound Fernwood Rd at this intersection. They include making it so there are two left-turn only lanes and one right-turn only lane, which should improve traffic flow during the afternoon rush. Other changes include removing three of the free right turn slip lanes, those traffic islands that make the right turn skip the traffic light. This is to enhance pedestrian safety (though, as a frequent pedestrian, this time of lane is far from my biggest issue).  The westbound right turn will remain with a different style of curb.  This description comes from the county website and there is a diagram there as well. The diagram and the text are hard for me to reconcile so I'll wait until April of 2024 when the project will be complete to see the final configuration.  The project is called "Democracy Boulevard and Fernwood Road Intersection Traffic Signal Reconstruction Project" even though the majority of the work seems unrelated to traffic signals.

Part of the project also includes Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant pedestrian sidewalk ramps.  I am unclear what part of the old ramps were not ADA compliant. With all the other changes to the intersection, replacing the ramps was probably needed anyway, regardless of their ADA compliance status.

This work started in early July, with a day of Fernwood closure and has had intermittent work and closures since then. There is actually quite a lot. As you can see in the above photos, the concrete divider on Fernwood has been replaced and the concrete islands on both sides of Fernwood at Democracy have been removed.  While construction is in progress life is difficult for everyone, including pedestrians (as seen in the photo directly above). There have also been sidewalk closures to facilitate replacing the ramps. If you are fully capable of walking then going through the grass is an easy detour, but if you have limited mobility there is no feasible detour, you are just stuck.

Fernwood Road southbound was closed at Democracy Blvd, the turn lane was blocked off

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