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What should downtown Bethesda look like? Montgomery planners seek input in survey

What does your “ideal Bethesda” look like? Montgomery County planners want to know.

An online survey seeking public input about what the area’s streets, gathering spots and landscaping should look and feel like in the future has been extended to June 16.

The county is updating its 1994 plan for the Bethesda Central Business District, one of Montgomery’s biggest employment, shopping and entertainment centers and an area where nearby residents complain about jammed roads and overcrowded schools. It’s also a major pass-through area for commuter traffic between the District, the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.

Planners say they want to take a “fresh look” at the area “to assess with the community what is great about downtown Bethesda and what could be better.” The survey, while informal, will provide direction to planners, department officials said.

The plan will address land use and density, urban design and character, open space, mobility and environmental quality — basically, what downtown Bethesda will look and feel like over the next 20 years and beyond. The area includes both sides of Wisconsin Avenue between Battery Lane on the north and an area just south of Bradley Boulevard.

Survey choices for different depictions of a future Bethesda range from tree-lined streets fronted with townhouses and hanging flower pots to a high-rise neighborhood that looks like midtown Manhattan.

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Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.


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