Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rockville snow update + more storms later this week

Montgomery County will attempt to get back to business today, after crews spent Monday finally plowing residential streets. The County government will be open. Montgomery County Public Schools will open two hours late.

All County recreation and aquatic centers will open on-time this morning, except senior centers, which will open at 10:00 AM. However, if your aquatic lesson is before 9:30 AM, it is cancelled for today. In fact, any program, class or activity that was scheduled before 10:00 AM this morning is also cancelled for today, as are senior nutrition and transportation programs.

Recreation programs for children five and under (tiny tots) that begin before noon are cancelled.

Metrobus, Metrorail, MARC trains and Ride On buses are all operating on normal weekday schedules today.


Rockville's Mayor and Council meeting that was postponed last night has been rescheduled for tonight, January 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave. Tonight's meeting agenda still includes:

A vote on a resolution to extend the moratorium on the filing, acceptance and receipt of applications for special exceptions, plans and plan amendments for certain uses in the mixed-use employment (MXE) zone, until July 1.

A report from the Adequate Public Facilities Standards (APFS) Work Group on Schools, regarding options to address a potential residential moratorium.

A presentation and discussion of the Planning Commission’s draft of the North Stonestreet Avenue Comprehensive Master Plan amendment.

A public hearing on the plan for the Shady Grove Neighborhood Center, a proposed mixed-use center with commercial, office and residential uses at 15825 Shady Grove Road, 2 and 4 Choke Cherry Road, and 2092-2098 Gaither Road.

A consent agenda that includes authorization for the city manager to execute a contract to purchase 6 Taft Court.

Takoma Park

The City of Takoma Park's offices will open at 10:30 AM this morning.

Montgomery Village

The Montgomery Village Foundation office will be open today. All Village recreation classes scheduled before noon are cancelled, except Seniors in Action, still meeting at 10:00 AM this morning.

Suburban News Network

Two other potential snowstorms are approaching the area later this week. Snow showers are possible Thursday afternoon, and a second storm could hit Sunday, a day that will have a low temperature of 10 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Rockville snow update

Woodmont Avenue at Norfolk Avenue
near Veterans Park in Bethesda
Montgomery County was hit hard by Winter Storm Gia over the last 48 hours. Snowfall totals ranged from 9.5-10.5" in parts of Bethesda to 11" in White Oak, 11.5" in Rockville and 12" in Germantown and Damascus.

Suburban News Network

A Snow Emergency is in effect. The federal government is closed.
Conditions are poor on Massachusetts Avenue
at Cromwell Drive in Bethesda, a state road
Montgomery County Public Schools are closed today, as is the Montgomery County government. All County facilities except for police and fire stations are closed, as well.

Metrorail subway lines and MetroAccess are operating on a normal weekday schedule, but Metrobus is on a Severe Snow Plan, meaning service is mostly limited to main thoroughfares. Ride On bus is operating on a normal weekday schedule. MARC train is operating on an R schedule. Northbound I-270 just south of Montrose Road is in bad shape, with multiple collisions reported in that area this morning, including one involving a police cruiser.
Route 355 at Mannakee Street
in Rockville
Rockville city government and city facilities are closed today, and tonight's Mayor and Council meeting has been cancelled. City trash collection won't take place today, and will be delayed one day for all customers the rest of this week.
Route 29 at Randolph Road
in East County
Takoma Park's city government announced last night it would be closed today if the federal government closed, as it has. City-operated child care is also closed today. City Manager Suzanne Ludlow claims that trash will be collected on-time today, and for the rest of the week. Takoma Park does have its own snow removal service, so perhaps they will be able to clear streets enough to do this.
Georgia Avenue at
Aspen Hill Road

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Rockville snow accumulation forecast revised upward as Winter Storm Gia path changes

Suburban News Network

Winter Storm Gia's path has drifted northward as it approaches the D.C. area, and forecasters have adjusted their snow accumulation totals accordingly. Montgomery County is now expected to receive between three to six inches by Sunday evening. The start of the snowfall is now expected to begin two hours later today - 4:00 PM instead of 2:00, indicating the storm has slowed slightly. Gia is currently advancing over the I-81 corridor. A slower storm could mean totals would be at the higher end of the forecasted spectrum.

County Executive Marc Elrich appears to be taking a proactive approach to the storm. Major and secondary County roadways had been pretreated by Friday night, while the state was behind schedule in treating highways they control within the County. "I ask all Marylanders to put safety first by staying off the roads during the storm, following your local weather forecasts, and heeding all warnings,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said Friday.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Safeway issues "storm alert," crews treat roads ahead of Rockville snowstorm

The first winter storm of 2019 is about thirty hours away, and preparations have been a mixed-bag, particularly as forecasters scale back the expected accumulation numbers for the D.C. area. Some Safeway stores in the county have posted signs outside declaring a "Storm Alert," exhorting customers to "Be Prepared! Stock up on supplies today!" But there was no apparent rush on supermarkets as of last night. The Safeway store at the Shops at Sumner Place in Bethesda was fully stocked with milk, bread and paper goods inside, and snow shovels and firewood outside. Other grocery stores visited last night were equally well-stocked.

Montgomery County's Department of Transportation was a bit more busy. Trucks were pretreating roads from Bethesda to Burtonsville Thursday night into Friday morning.

Suburban News Network

Winter Storm Gia is expected to hit Montgomery County around 2:00 PM tomorrow. Temperatures should be just above freezing at that time, but will drop below 32 degrees over the next few hours after that. Expect a snow accumulation of around 2 inches by Sunday night. Low temperatures will make for dangerous travel conditions.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

One person riding $2 million Ride On bus in Rockville

Montgomery County launched Ride On Extra Route 101 with great fanfare two years ago, promising the express bus would "move more people" on "one of the most heavily used corridors in Montgomery County." The route costs taxpayers $2 million a year to operate between Lakeforest Mall and Bethesda Medical Center along Route 355. Last night around 6:50 PM during the evening rush hour, northbound and southbound Ride On Extra buses passed each other on Rockville Pike near Edmonston Drive. Despite being at the midpoint of the trip during a peak rush hour time, each bus was carrying only one person.

Route 355 is just as crowded as it was before the service launched, and taxpayers are being soaked for another wasteful transit program. Next up: the $10 billion Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle. Meanwhile the County Council is facing another budget shortfall, and hinting at further tax increases in the years ahead. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Photo via Montgomery County

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Raskin, Van Hollen, Cardin not on list of Congresspeople forgoing pay during federal shutdown

Jamie Raskin
UPDATE: Wednesday afternoon, January 9, 2019, Senator Chris Van Hollen announced he has instructed the Financial Clerk of the U.S. Senate to withhold his paycheck until the government shutdown has ended, and federal employees have received back pay they are owed.

"For thee, but not for me:" Congressman Jamie Raskin (D - MD-08) is all over the press lambasting the federal government shutdown, and will even be hosting a "Trump Shutdown" rally tonight in Silver Spring. But one thing Raskin isn't doing is forgoing his own Congressional paycheck during the shutdown. Many of his Democratic colleagues in Maryland and Virginia - including David Trone, Dutch Ruppersburger and Jennifer Wexton - are refusing to accept their paychecks until the shutdown ends, in solidarity with federal workers.
Chris Van Hollen
The two senators representing Montgomery County aren't declining their paychecks either. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Ben Cardin (D) will each continue to accept his $174,000 salary during the shutdown. While Raskin raged about the "shutdown nightmare" when the furloughs began, his own $174,000 salary is a dream he's determined not to wake up from.
Ben Cardin
"Americans are suffering," Cardin declared this past weekend, as he continued to accept his $3346 weekly paycheck. All three men represent a state that has the fourth-highest number of federal employees in the nation, making their failure to sacrifice even more conspicuous as the shutdown drags on.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Research Row seeks parking reduction

Rockville's newest shopping center isn't even complete yet, and the owner is already seeking to eliminate 96 of the parking spaces required under city code. Research Row argues that they are currently overparked, given that the research building on-site operates with fewer employees than a general office building would. In a filing with the city, the developer notes that Montgomery County offers a lower parking requirement for such research laboratory office buildings than for general office uses.

The developer also wants to convert some of their approved office space to restaurant use, including a full-service restaurant and a carryout restaurant. There is already a Chik-fil-A operating on the property.

City zoning chief Jim Wasilak is recommending the Planning Commission grant the parking reduction, noting that while there's no guarantee the office building will not someday convert to general office use, that its laboratory floorplans make it highly unlikely. Commissioners will take up the parking reduction request at their meeting tomorrow night, January 9, 2019 at 7:00 PM at City Hall.