For about a year, Bradley Boulevard near the heart of downtown Bethesda has been a jumbled mess of steel plates, traffic cones and construction vehicles.
That has a number of residents unhappy and Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda) asking the State Highway Administration to reconsider its permitting process.
The project is not actually the work of the State Highway Administration, but instead a water main replacement project from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission that requires late night digging into the road.
Berliner, after getting numerous complaints about construction noise, lane closures and torn up pavement, sent a letter to the SHA on Friday asking the agency to reconsider its overnight construction permit policy “on all construction projects going forward.”
“Working during such hours is detrimental to the quality of life of residents and is an undue burden to those who live along the areas of construction,” Berliner wrote.
The SHA has issued WSSC permits for the pipe replacement project from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. and from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The affected area includes a busy stretch of Bradley Boulevard around Arlington Road.
Residents claimed construction work has shut down two lanes of the road during the day as well, even during rush hour.
SHA spokesperson Charlie Gischlar said WSSC told the agency it had patched up the water main under Bradley Boulevard to the point where it had to be replaced. Gischlar said SHA has an inspector who goes from project to project done by all utilities throughout the area.
The plan is for WSSC to resurface the road when it’s finished, though Berliner wrote he shared resident’s concerns that the resurfacing job would not be up to par.
“If the resurfacing effort along other roads where the WSSC has worked is any indication of their quality of work, it leaves much to be desired,” Berliner wrote. “I have spoken to the General Manager and Commissioners of the WSSC multiple times asking that they ensure that all roads are resurfaced and restored to optimal condition following work. I encourage you to hold the agency to the highest standard possible.”
WSSC is expected to wrap up the project this spring or summer.
“To ask that residents suffer through nearly a year of living in an active construction site is to ask too much,” Berliner said.