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Town of Chevy Chase Funded Study
Backs Bethesda Master Plan

Press release issued February 1, 2017

A new traffic study funded by the Town of Chevy Chase confirms the basic premise of the downtown Bethesda master plan now before the County Council -- that transit-oriented development is the best remedy for traffic congestion. The study finds that traffic in downtown Bethesda will get worse even if all development is stopped, and that switching travel away from automobiles has a far greater effect on traffic congestion than limiting development.

ACT has written to the study's author, Prof. Lei Zhang of the University of Maryland, requesting that he add to his study another option for reducing downtown Bethesda congestion -- re-opening Leland Street to through traffic between Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues. This option has the great advantage that it could be implemented by the Town of Chevy Chase acting alone.

The text of the ACT letter is as follows:

Dear Prof. Zhang,

The Action Committee for Transit reviewed with great interest your traffic modeling results posted last week on the Town of Chevy Chase website.

While your maps overstate future congestion levels because important through streets like Cordell Avenue, Norfolk Avenue, Elm Street, and Bethesda Avenue are left out of the model, your findings confirm the basic premise of the proposed downtown Bethesda master plan -- that transit-oriented development is the best remedy for traffic jams. Your results show clearly that stopping development will not keep traffic from getting worse, and that reducing the need to travel by automobile is the most effective strategy for controlling congestion.

In response to your study, the Town of Chevy Chase states that congestion in downtown Bethesda is "bad" and will get worse. The Town itself is in a unique position to do something about that. Specifically, the Town can re-open Leland Street to through traffic, reversing its action taken some years ago. This could be accomplished at minimal cost within a few weeks time, and does not require approval by any other government body.

We therefore request that you run an additional scenario showing the effect of re-opening Leland Street to through traffic. This would both inform the Town of Chevy Chase's deliberations about how to improve traffic conditions in downtown Bethesda and assist other county residents in understanding the cause of traffic congestion.

Ronit Aviva Dancis
President, Action Committee for Transit