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Downtown Bethesda Construction Blasts To Resume This Month

How has Lot 31 construction affected you?

After a temporary reprieve during the holidays, blasts that some have described as sounding like an earthquake or car crash are set to resume in downtown Bethesda in a couple of weeks as part of construction to make way for a parking garage at the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues.

The blasts began on Dec. 5 after crews conducting excavation encountered a level of dense, hard rock, according to an email from the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

Some residents taken aback by the work mistook the blasts for an earthquake, a car hitting a building, and even a meteor strike, The Washington Post reported this month.

After a temporary halt Dec. 18, the blasting could begin again in about two weeks, Ken Hartman, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center director, wrote in an email to Patch.

The construction project, known as Lot 31, has taken out a popular Bethesda Row surface parking lot with about 270 spaces. An underground parking garage with 940 public spaces and two mixed-use residential buildings -- one five stories, the other nine stories -- are planned for the site, located at the intersection of Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues on busy Bethesda Row and across the street from Bethesda's iconic Barnes and Noble. 

How has Lot 31 construction affected you? Tell us in the comments.

The surface parking lot closed to traffic in April, and construction is expected to take about another two years. Woodmont Avenue between Bethesda Avenue and Leland Street has also closed temporarily to allow for the construction.

The majority of blasts will happen between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with a horn sounding 15 and 5 minutes before the blasts, as well as one after, mostly to alert on-site workers, according to the B-CC RSC.

Nearby homeowners have worried about the impact of the blasts on their homes, according to the Post. But the larger impact of the construction may be felt by the business community, which has long worried the loss of parking would impact their customers.

At nearby jewelry store business has dropped by half since last year, the Post reported.

How has Lot 31 construction affected you? Are you a homeowner concerned about the blasting? A business owner concerned about the effect of the loss of the nearby parking lot? Have you found it more difficult to park and drive near Bethesda Row since construction began? Tell us in the comments.

Katie Griffith January 02, 2013 at 06:21 PM
I live just behind the blasting on Bradley Blvd, and blasting at Lot 31 shakes the floors of my apartment. The first time it happened, a confused neighbor knocked on my door asking if my bookcases had fallen over. I was glad to have such a concerned neighbor.
John January 07, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Being from California with lots of earthquakes, each blast kinda freaks me out. Hard to overcome a lifetime of training when the floor shakes.

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