Tuesday, May 21, 2024

New right turn arrow at Fernwood and Democracy


A month or two ago they put a "No Turn on Red" sign for the right turn from Democracy Blvd east onto Fernwood Rd south.  This caused significant backups in the morning and evening rush as people had to wait to turn even when there was no one around.  Today they fixed it by adding a right turn arrow at the intersection.

This arrow is green when the northbound Fernwood Rd traffic has a green light.  This lets a lot more cars turn onto Fernwood Rd and this evening there was no line of people waiting.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Sugarloaf Mountain at night


Sugarloaf mountain and stars
Last Friday and Saturday nights there was lots of solar activity and the Aurora Borealis was visible very far south. In the DC area it was cloudy both nights so I don't know if it would have been viewable.  Sunday night there was supposed to be a chance of strong solar activity so I decided to try and view them.  Since where I live is fairly bright, I went up close to Sugarloaf Mountain. I hoped to get a shot with the Northern Lights behind Sugarloaf.

I didn't see the lights, but I did get a couple of interesting nighttime shots.  This morning I checked Spaceweather and found that the Aurora wasn't visible anywhere near here.

In this picture, Sugarloaf mountain is backlit by the lights of Frederick reflecting  off some thin clouds. Above the hill the stars shine brightly.

clump of trees and gravel road

Lights from the parking lot I was in partially illuminate the ground and trees. Power lines run along the right side.

Sugarloaf Streak
On the left, the grass and gravel road is illuminated by lights in a parking lot. In the distance at the center is Sugarloaf Mountain, and on the right is a streak of an airplane.









Monday, May 13, 2024

The Great Southern Brood of cicadas

Around Montgomery County, Maryland, Brood X, the 17 year cicadas that last emerged in 2021 get all the attention.  But we  get some 13 year cicadas around here too. Brood XIX, the Great Southern Brood makes a limited appearance this year.  Today I saw the first of these periodical cicadas. It's a bit early for them, the ones in 2021 came out in late May to early June.


I know not everyone eagerly awaits the invasion, but it is amazing that these slow, dumb, long-lived insects survive at all.  



Sunday, May 12, 2024

ELP Bethesda construction


The first building is going in. Here is the side of it seen from Fernwood Rd at the bridge over I-270.

ELP Bethesda Phase 1-A will be a continuing care retirement community with 512 independed living units, and associated amenities in the Rock Spring area of Bethesda. This the first of two buildings for Phase 1-A, on the east side of the property. It will be 150 feet tall and 13 stories.  It will have about 247 residental units.  The second building in 1-A will be directly adjecent and will have about 265 units.

Here is the building as seen from the entrance to Democracy Plaza.

Later phases of construction will add more buildings. The total proposed project will have 1,300 independent living units, 160-210 assisted living units, and 30-50 skilled nursing units.

This is all that remains of the old Marriot headquarters, part of the basement. The new construction is in the background.

If you stand at just the right spot on Old Georgetown Road, you can see the new building going in through the trees.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Monday, April 1, 2024

Fernwood Rd at Democracy Blvd intersection improvements completed

Those of you who regularly drive Fernwood Rd might be thinking "that intersection was finished months ago, why are you just posting it now?" Well, it isn't really done until the lane markings are there and there have only been temporary ones until recently. Now it is "done done" and we can celebrate.

Looking north on Fernwood, this is where the bulk of the changers are, instead of one right and one left turn lane there are two left turn lanes and one right turn lane.  For better or for worse, you still can't go straight through the intersection.

Nice bold turn arrows, and wide crosswalk stripes.

Finally there is a crosswalk to cross Democracy Blvd on the East side of Fernwood.  You used to have to cross Fernwood, then cross Democracy, then cross Fernwood again in order to walk north on Fernwood after Democracy.

The north side of the intersection, this is the crosswalk crossing Fernwood Road. Democracy Boulevard is on the left.


Sunday, March 31, 2024

The Mercury at Wildwood construction

 This is the front (side?) directly behind the Exxon gas station.  Wildwood Medical Building is on the left.

 he Mercury is an over-55 apartment building under construction next to Wildwood Medical Building and adjacent to Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda, MD.

 The development will have 100 units, underground parking, and, I believe, a small amount of retail. The property will be managed by ALVIN L. AUBINOE, INC, which bills itself "as a beacon of excellence in residential and commercial property management".

This is the side of The Mercury that faces Balducci's. Currently just the first floor is above ground.  The access road on the left is closed to traffic.

The frankly over-the-top website has breathless descriptions about how the Art Deco inspired building "will reflect a resilient elegance withstanding ebb and flow of design trends" and how it boasts "a selection of opulent one, two, and three-bedroom living spaces".  When talking about "the esteemed Wildwood Shopping Center" they mention that "the premier establishments dotting this prestigious locale are...CVS Pharmacy...and three prominent banks.  They are highly boastful, using the words "boast", "boasts", and "Boasting" on the website.

Still the side facing Balducci's, but this is the rear portion of it.

For some context, here is the Wildwood Medical Building. The new construction is in what was a parking lot for this building.





Saturday, March 30, 2024

Walking with flowers

 It was nice this morning, warmish with a little sun, but clouding up quickly so I took advantage of the weather and went for a walk on Cabin John Trail today. The trees don't have leaves yet, but there were a bunch of different flowers growing low to the ground.

Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna). I pretty yellow flower, wide leaves, only a few inches tall. It is not indigenous.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). White flowers about an inch and a half across. Not many leaves yet. This is native to the area.

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum). Mottled green leaves that are about 4-5 inches long. The flowers haven't opened yet.  Another native plant.

Virginia Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica). Long thin stems with narrow leaves. 4-8 inches tall. The flower is about half an inch across.

I didn't identify this plant, but I do like it.

Monday, March 25, 2024

How crowded is the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom time?


The Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season is known for it's crowds. But, how crowded does it get?  Especially on a sunny Sunday during the Cherry Blossom Festival? here's your answer.

It is crowded, packed, sardines-in-a-can. Crowded enough that I generally stayed off the walkway along the Tidal Basin and went back through the trees, where there were still people, but it wasn't packed.

In the morning the crowds were there, but they were a bit clumpy.  One group of people would stop for pictures and people slow down to go around, so you'd get bunches, but then there would be a bit of breathing room. I was there from 7:30 am to 9 am and it was getting more crowded as time went on.

Jefferson Airplane

If you were willing to stand in one spot for 5 or 10 minutes you might even be able to get a photo without people.  I waited at least 5 minutes to get this one and it was just luck the airplane was overhead.  Not far away I stood for about 10 minutes before giving up.

Afternoon was a different story entirely.  It was packed everywhere.  Even moving pretty far away from the water you'd only get to where it was crowded

This was close to sunset, in a bit of an out-of-the-way place next to the Outlet Bridge, lots of people went here to relax a bit, so lots of standing and sitting folks.  I saw one young couple enjoying a charcuterie board with a bottle of wine in this area.

Slightly less packed because people here are walking to go over a bridge, not stopping to take photos.

If you can, you really want to go early in the morning.  Preferably a weekday morning.  Go before work and you can still make it on time or maybe an hour late.


Cherry blossoms over the weekend

Early morning at the Tidal Basin

 After Saturday's wind and rain I thought that the cherry blossoms would be gone.  That turned out not to be the case, they were still at their peak on Sunday so I went to see them. By 7:30 am there were already a lot of people at the tidal basin enjoying one last weekend of flowers. 

They were so good yesterday that I think today will be another great time to see them.  Expect crowds, though maybe not as bad as Sunday afternoon was.

Formal photos

There were a surprising number of people all dressed up and getting formal photographs. In this picture there are two couples getting photos, another that just got one taken, and a few more looking like they will.

Gnarled tree

With a bit of patience I could get a couple of shots without people in the foreground.

People on the wall of the Tidal Basin

he morning went so well that in the afternoon I came back.  Now the sun was shining on the east side of the tidal basin and the crowds were much heavier

Stumpy and people

Stumpy, they small cherry tree that is just barely hanging on is famous all over the country.  I had one person from Atlanta ask me where it was.  There was a crowd of people around it all day.

Evening light at the Tidal Basin

The evening light shines on the cherry trees on the east side of the Tidal Basin, the Washington Monument watches over the scene.

As soon as this cherry blossom season is over, they will be rebuilding a portion of the seawalls to prevent some of the tidal flooding that regularly occurs. As part of this construction Stumpy, and over a hundred other cherry trees will be cut down and removed.




Monday, March 18, 2024

Catching up with the Amalyn Development


Little Green houses, for everyone

 Here is a row of single family houses under construction. They are quite large and close together.  They won't stay green forever, you can see one on the far left is getting a light brick facade on the front.

A quick recap may be a good thing.  Amaylyn is a new housing development in Bethesda located between Interstate 495 and the Interstate 270 Spur.  This 75 acre site used to house the WMAL radio transmitters. Those towers were brought down in 2020 and the area has been under development ever since.

Amalyn will contain just over 300 dwellings in a mix of town houses and single-family houses.  It is a joint development between Toll Brothers and Tri Pointe Homes. It looks like the townhouses and some of the single family houses are Tri Pointe and the rest are Toll Brothers.  The development will connect to the rest of Bethesda via Greentree Road, Greyswood Road, and Renita Lane.

Newly paved portion of Renita Ln

Just last week they finished paving some new roads.  Here is the new portion of Renita Lane looking towards Greentree Road.

Renita Ln at Greentree Rd

This is where Renita Lane ends at Greentree Road.  I was worried that Renita would be a straight line from one end of the development to the other, but it has light curves at either end which should slow traffic down a little bit.

The backs of some townhouses

A newly paved Sanvitalia Street and the backs of some townhouses under construction.

Townhouses under construction

Here is the fronts of those same townhouses.  They will face Silver Linden Street. This was taken from the corner of Sanvitalia and Silver Linden streets.

More townhouse construction

This row of townhouses is much further along than the last one.  It is also facing Silver Linden Street and is on the corner of that road and Bluestar Avenue.

 You can read my full coverage of the Amalyn development.





Sunday, March 17, 2024

Purple Line construction in Bethesda


The Purple Line has had along and winding history with it taking a long time to get started and then stopping for a couple of years. But, it is on again and they are actively working on it in Bethesda. When finished the light-rail line will
 connect Bethesda, Silver Spring, and beyond. 

This is the Purple Line route towards Silver Spring.  The light rail tracks will be on the right and the Georgetown Branch / Capital Crescent trail on the left. Hard to see, but in the far distance people are doing work on the track area.

The Purple Line at East-West Highway looking towards downtown Bethesda. On the right you can see a partially-built access ramp which will allow you to get on the trail from East-West Highway.

Right after the Purple Line comes out from under the Air Rights building, the Georgetown Branch / Capital Crescent trail will cross over it on this bridge.  It is located at the end of Pearl Street.

The purple line where it exists the tunnel from the station. The Georgetown Branch / Capital Crescent trail is on the far side ramp.

Purple line construction between East-West Hwy and Pearl St.  They are actively working this area too.

I haven't really posted about the Purple Line, but, I did post about the Georgetown Branch trail closing in 2017, about the Purple Line Functional Plan in 2011, and about the Save the Trail petition in 2009.




Saturday, March 16, 2024

Hampden House apartments construction


 Hampden House is an under-construction mixed-use development that will have 366 apartments.  The 25 story building is located along Wisconsin Avenue between Hampden Lane and Elm Street.  Here it is looking southwest across Wisconsin Avenue to the construction site.

Depending on which website you look at, it is either at 7316 Wisconsin Avenue or 4700 Hampden Lane.  It is scheduled for completion in Summer of 2025, well over a year from now.

Across Wisconsin Avenue looking northwest towards Hampden House.  The white building in front of it is part of the construction of the Purple Line / Bethesda Metro entrance and is covering Elm Street.

Hampden house as seen from Montgomery Avenue. Between me and the building is another construction site.

Looking east up Hampden Lane from Arlington Road.

From the corner of Woodmont Avenue and Bethesda Avenue, looking past the Purple Line construction towards Hampden House.