Montgomery County considers making pandemic-era Streetery permanent in downtown Bethesda

The pandemic may largely be in the rearview mirror, but it appears as though an idea born out of the pandemic, at least in Montgomery County, is here to stay.

Officials held a public meeting Wednesday evening to discuss ideas for enhancing the Streetery on Norfolk Avenue in Downtown Bethesda. While they stressed that the project is in its very early stages, planners said they're considering permanently closing a three-block stretch of Norfolk to traffic while also raising the Streetery surface to the same elevation as the sidewalk, raising intersections to slow cross traffic, and adding stormwater management through green infrastructure as well.

"The idea of a shared street kind of morphed based on the pandemic, and we've certainly used our experiences during the pandemic to facilitate what we're currently planning," explained Matt Johnson of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

Johnson added that any big changes to the area are likely at least five years away.


Montgomery County announces changes to popular streeteries in Bethesda, Silver Spring

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) announced changes to two of its four streeteries, and backlash has already sparked online.

He also said officials have heard some concerns regarding the project's potential impact on downtown parking and loading.

Nevertheless, most people who spoke to FOX 5 Wednesday said they'd embrace the change.

"I really think, especially as they're building more and more apartments, that having more park space would be actually great for the community," Elena Broder-Feldman said of the plan.

Currently, there is no cost estimate for the project, Johnson said.

For more information on the Bethesda Streetery click here.