Thursday, May 29, 2008

Montrose Road intersection opens June 16

Today, I stopped by the offices for Concrete General, the contractor building the Montrose Parkway West project, asking for clarification on some dates, construction goals, and issues we've had with the project "progress." Here is the recap:
  1. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10am on Monday, June 16, for the Montrose Road bridge and tie-in intersection (in front of St. Elizabeth's Church) opening. This will eliminate the current detour for westbound Montrose Road traffic, and we will no longer have to turn onto East Jefferson St. when heading toward I-270. Montrose Road will intersect Montrose Parkway.
  2. The piece of Montrose Parkway between E. Jefferson St. and old Old Georgetown Rd. (behind La Madeleine) is complete, but will not be opened to traffic until the state intersection project is built. This will take several years. The intersection project takes Montrose Parkway under Rockville Pike and dumps it back onto Randolph Road before the CSX tracks. Funding has been allocated (the county is "lending" some of the funds to the state to start construction sooner; don't hold your breath for getting this money back), but engineering is not complete. Concrete General won the construction contract (big surprise). So, we have a completed road section that will sit there, unused, for years, while all eastbound Montrose Parkway traffic has to turn at E. Jefferson St.
  3. There is some confusion about the trees that were planted today on Tildenwood Drive. The old cherry trees were not taken down first, and I still don't know if the county planted the new trees (unlikely), or they were mistakenly installed by Concrete General's landscaping crew (more likely). I will write again about this when I find out what happened.
  4. Final paving for Montrose Road & Parkway will occur between July and September, and Concrete General will consider the project complete. They think it's likely to be July-August, but are saying September to be conservative.
  5. The sign for Hitching Post Lane at Montrose Road is missing. Conc. Gen'l's rep told me that they have the sign, but, until the final paving and re-alignment of the lanes, they can't install it. Hoping that it will be up within the next month.
  6. They still haven't finished the brickwork or planting in what remains of the traffic island on Tildenwood Drive. Promises, promises. I asked about planting shrubbery or ground cover around the new eastern redbud tree that's supposed to go in, but the staff on hand were not aware of any landscaping plans that included anything other than a single tree. Negotiations continue.
  7. I understood that Concrete General was responsible for planting trees and other screening on the berm next to the sidewalk on Tildenwood Drive (between the sidewalk and the new storm management pond behind Faith Methodist Church). Staff at the office had no record of this requirement. Again, I will follow up on this with the county tree maintenance department and with Roger Brown, the project manager for Concrete General.
  8. There are currently no crosswalks at the intersection of Montrose Parkway and E. Jefferson Street. I have had to take my life into my hands getting around that intersection on foot or on my bike. Final plans show crosswalks for all four sides of the intersection, with pedestrian signals to be installed. I hope to find out when this will occur and let you all know.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Paying for "greening" your home

As of December 31, 2007, the federal tax credit incentives for installing energy-efficient windows, insulation, HVAC systems, etc. expired. Our current federal government has not yet re-instituted any of these incentives. Hopefully, this will be corrected (and post-dated, if we're lucky). Meanwhile, if you want to keep track of possible financial incentives, check out the federal, state, and local government programs to see what is available to you. They do change from year to year, so be sure to check often. We found that it is possible to install advanced & efficient systems that, after tax credits or other incentives, cost practically the same as a standard installation would have cost. After that, energy savings into the future are "gravy" and we are all doing what we can to reduce our impact on the planet. Besides, when you are ready to sell your home, you have some very positive selling features! Here are some sites that can help identify financial incentives: Federal - Maryland - This site (the home page, which covers the entire US, is also has links to federal programs and local programs, so the Montgomery County program is linked, as well. Montgomery County - Currently, this site is showing that the Energy Rewards program is out of funding. However, it has a lot of useful links to energy programs with Pepco, etc., and could be a future source of incentives. I wouldn't rule it out. Be sure to post any comments if you have any additional ideas.