‘Don’t flood the lake’ signs tackle Chevy Chase gridlock

\'\'Don\'t flood the lake\'\' signs dot the lines of front yards and along streets in Chevy Chase, Md. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Kate Ryan, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Gridlock is nothing new to residents of Chevy Chase and Bethesda, Md. who can spend a lot of time trying to get from their side streets across Connecticut Avenue. So it’s not surprising to see green signs protesting proposed development popping up along the busy commuter route.

The signs read “Don’t flood the Lake” and refer to Chevy Chase Lake, where one plan for redevelopment could add up to 790,000 square feet of residential development including a 15-story building to the area.

The Chevy Chase Land Company site says the plan would “span a 20-30 year period and no changes will occur right away.” While there are many residents who are concerned, some in the area like the plan.

Shane Farthing, with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association says in an email that WABA favors the plan “because it embraces a type of development that would meaningfully integrate the completed and elevated Capital Crescent Trail crossing of Connecticut Avenue.” Finding a safe way to cross in the area where the Metro Purple Line is proposed has been an important issue.

But resident Shoshana Lombardi, who uses a bike to run errands in her neighborhood, disagrees with WABA when it comes to what is being proposed in her area. As a matter of fact, she says, she has one of those green signs declaring “Don’t Flood the Lake” in her front yard.

Lombardi says the area already experiences gridlock on a regular basis. And Monday’s broken water main and the traffic delays that resulted only underscored just how bad the problem is.

“By adding all the development, you are going to flood the lake with traffic,” she says. I can’t even imagine what this would mean for the school system which is already overburdened as it is

At a meeting earlier this week, the Gazette newspapers reported that county council members were skeptical that the plan could be executed without making the already tangled traffic worse. Analysis by planners indicated that traffic wouldn’t increase substantially once the new development is completed.

The Gazette quoted Council member Marc Elrich as saying “You just can’t make up numbers to try to make things work, and that’s what it looks like you’re doing here.”

Montgomery County Deputy Staff Director Glenn Orlin says while the number of commuters opting for transit and or walking and biking would likely increase, projections show that 49 percent of those commuting from the area would be traveling by car.

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