Planner: Chevy Chase project would add traffic to Connecticut Ave.

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Photo - Some Chevy Chase residents are upset about a plan that would turn a shopping center into an urban town square resembling downtown Bethesda. (Examiner file photo)
Some Chevy Chase residents are upset about a plan that would turn a shopping center into an urban town square resembling downtown Bethesda. (Examiner file photo)
Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Traffic on Connecticut Avenue, already gridlocked during rush hour, could get worse if a proposed development at Chevy Chase Lake, just south of the Capital Beltway, is approved.

The proposed project would redevelop the current area, which sits on Connecticut Avenue between Jones Bridge Road and East-West Highway, with Rock Creek Park to the east and Columbia Country Club to the west. With residential and retail spaces in the proposed redevelopment, the amount of new traffic would flood the already congested area, planner Elza Hisel-McCoy said.

"Locally, you have roads that are already very congested that are not going to become less congested," he told the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday.

Tall building approved for Chevy Chase Lake
The Montgomery County Planning Board approved a 150-foot height restriction for one of the buildings planned for the Chevy Chase Lake development -- 60 feet higher than what residents said they were comfortable with.
The Planning Board approved the height limitations for the proposed shopping center that is part of the Chevy Chase Lake development. Residents are worried the buildings would be too high, and the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Coalition -- a community advocacy group -- said it wanted no buildings higher than 90 feet.
The board voted to approve up to 150 feet for the building at the corner of the proposed Purple Line, which would run along the Capital Crescent Trail, and Connecticut Avenue. It allowed up to 80 feet for the four other buildings.
Coalition member Pat Baptiste told the board before its vote that if it set the limit at 150 feet, she and other residents would challenge the decision when the proposal was brought to the County Council.

Hisel-McCoy said about 80 percent of current traffic is drivers traveling through. Based on traffic adequacy tests, planners discovered the though-traffic combined with an increased traffic from cars coming specifically to the development would just add more congestion, he said.

Even with the proposed Purple Line rail station planned for the area, most intersections will fail adequacy tests for congestion.

Planning Board Chairwoman Francoise Carrier said the project would not bring more congestion -- the board approved the amount of traffic produced by the new development, and she didn't think congestion would be an issue.

The proposal does not include lane expansion or adding roads, except for one small road connecting Manor Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive. Hisel-McCoy said planners were bound by the park and the country club on both sides, so widening Connecticut Avenue wasn't an option.

However, planners said they are considering alternative options to alleviate congestion, although they would not elaborate on what those are.

"We're balancing those with community character," he said. "We don't want to change that."

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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