County Blocks Access to Leland Street in Downtown Bethesda

Move came in response to residents’ complaints about cut-through traffic


The bollards preventing vehicles from turning right from Woodmont Avenue onto Leland Street

Andrew Metcalf

The most recent development in Montgomery County’s efforts to appease residential communities dealing with traffic near downtown Bethesda is on Leland Street in the Sacks neighborhood.

Late last month, Montgomery County installed plastic bollards to prevent motorists from turning right onto Leland Street from Woodmont Avenue.

The change prevents drivers from using Leland Street as a cut-through to travel south to Bradley Boulevard. Single-family homes—many valued at more than $1 million—line the road, which already has traffic-calming measures, such as small islands in the roadway, to make drivers slow down as they navigate around them. Previously, there was also a posted sign that restricted drivers from making a right turn from Woodmont onto Leland from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

A traffic calming measure on Leland Street, via Google Street View

Esther Bowring, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Transportation, wrote in an email Tuesday that the department’s traffic and engineering division implemented the new access restriction after residents’ expressed concerns about cut-through traffic.

Bowring said the county could make the change because of an executive regulation approved in 1994. The regulation lets residents of a neighborhood request an access restriction through a citizens association or petition. The County Council played no role in approving the change.

Bowring wrote that the department conducted a traffic study on the road before implementing the restriction, but did not immediately have information Tuesday about the study’s results. The county plans to make the access restriction permanent by installing a curb in the summer of 2018, according to Bowring.

Bowring also sent Bethesda Beat an unsigned comment that said was written by someone in the community and sent to the county, thanking officials for implementing the restriction.

“The measures have improved pedestrian safety immensely,” the person wrote. “The commuters turning right out of the neighborhood actually slow down and respect the pedestrians crossing Leland [at] Woodmont now, and residents of the neighborhood are safer.”

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