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Bethesda Commuters Express Frustration Over Construction-Related Lane Closures

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Workers in the U.S. are not happy campers.

Only 25% of U.S. workers feel their workplace is clean enough, while a recent survey released by Citi revealed that 30% of respondents say their cost of commuting has increased substantially. And if there’s anyone who can sympathize with this fact, it’s Maryland commuters, whose commutes are among some of the longest and most expensive in the nation.

According to a report published by USA Today in October of 2014, Maryland is among the top eight states with the longest commute times. While the statewide average commute time is 32 minutes, parts of Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert counties were found to have average commute times of at least 45 minutes. In addition, 14.4% of Maryland workers have commute times longer than 60 minutes — a fact which drivers in Bethesda recently experienced.

Last week Wednesday morning, drivers headings towards downtown Bethesda were met with gridlock traffic due to unexpected lane closures. Two out of three southbound Wisconsin Avenue lanes were closed, resulting in the kind of traffic jam that’s become all too familiar due to area construction projects and post construction cleaning. Needless to say, morning rush hour commuters were stressed.

“People were just frustrated the lanes were closed, especially because there appeared to be no reason for it,” said Ken Hartman, a Montgomery County government official who operates the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

Hartman said his office received a number of complaints regarding the closures Wednesday.

“It’s a big frustration for us, so you can imagine how big of a frustration it is for residents,” Hartman said.

Lane and sidewalk closures due to construction projects, post construction cleaning, and utility work and other tasks in downtown Bethesda have become a harsh reality and constant issue for the county, resulting in a steady stream of resident complaints. Many of the construction projects are the result of a surge in condominium development in the area, which has boomed in recent years.

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