The pandemic helped popularize the Norfolk Avenue “streetery,” a roadway turned outdoor dining space, in Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle. Now, county transportation experts are asking the public what should become of it three years later.
Even in January, two blocks are closed for people to dine al fresco and mingle around. In the coming years, Montgomery County, Maryland, is trying to figure out the direction the “streetery” should go.
Before the pandemic, the vision of Norfolk Avenue already involved a shared street for both pedestrians and cars. Currently, two blocks are closed for the “streetery,” but the county is requesting feedback through an online survey that asks residents about expanding to a five-block stretch in all.
“It may look very similar to what it looks today, but our study is looking at what other kind of physical improvements we can make,” said Matt Johnson of Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation.
“For example, we could remove the curb and make it all level and have it all be sidewalk elevation. We could potentially put … trees there or a fountain or other types of features. Or maybe we don’t do those things. Maybe it gets returned, or some kind of part-time closure, part-time open to cars. We don’t know yet,” Johnson said.
All options are on the table, though Johnson concedes the current setup has presented some challenges to the neighborhood.
“We know there are needs for loading, for example, for trash pickup, for pick up and drop off of Uber Eats or groups like that,” Johnson said.
And while the five blocks of Norfolk Avenue west of Woodmont Avenue are being studied, he said “they don’t all have to be the same.”
“We could have different uses on different blocks,” Johnson said. “Maybe one of the blocks is always closed to cars and maybe the other ones are only closed on holidays, or maybe they’re only open to delivery vehicles, or things like that. It’s all open right now. We don’t have any firm plans yet.”
The online survey is open for the next three weeks. A public meeting on the topic will also be held in March.