Community Liaison Council Meeting Minutes — September 18, 2014

September 18, 2014; 4:00 to 5:30 PM
Natcher Building, Conference Room D
National Institutes of Health

Opening Remarks

Ms. Mowery briefly welcomed everyone.  

NIH’s Sustainability Accomplishments for 2013 & Planned Goals and Actions for 2014 — Resentation — Susan Hinton, Chief, Sustainability Branch, Division of Environmental Protection, Office of Research Facilities

Ms. Hinton reported that all federal agencies now have 10 specific sustainability goals each year, with progress reports due quarterly and annually. Aided by slides that will be made available to the CLC, Ms. Hinton described each goal in turn and how well NIH is doing at meeting that goal. The Federal Government sets the targets on a June-to-June basis.

Goal 1.0. NIH is ahead of schedule on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Compared with a federal goal of 10% by 2020, on campus and with contractors, the reduction is already about 16%. This is also true for employee commuter and business travel, compared with a 3.3% target. When Mr. Schofer asked how NIH achieved this progress, Ms. Hinton said that energy use by all buildings was looked at — particularly the power plant — for ways to improve, and that an outreach program encourages carpools, van pools, and telework.

Goal 2.0. Improving the sustainability of NIH buildings when most are old is a challenge. NIH set up an energy conservation task force to work on this. During 2013-14 the difference achieved was 24%, but NIH is aiming for 30% by June 2015. The focus has been on the bigger buildings and looking at utility contracts (e.g., PEPCO replacing windows with the energy-saving covering the cost; also improvements in light fixtures and HVAC). The program manager could come to talk to the CLC if members are interested.

Goal 3.0. The federal goal for reducing petroleum use is 20%. NIH has already decreased this by 83%, and makes sure when it has to buy new cars that they are more energy efficient.

Goal 4.0. Improving the efficiency of water use is particularly challenging when considering how many laboratories there are at NIH. NIH has not yet reached the long-term target but has a new push for water savings, including by recapture for reuse. During any building renovations, more efficient water-using devices are installed (e.g., automatic flushing).

Goal 5.0. Aiming to prevent pollution and reduce waste, NIH currently has a recycling rate of 48.5% overall and tracks each building’s rate monthly. Ms. Hinton expects NIH to meet its 50% recycling goal for 2015 and to match Montgomery County’s goal of 70% in 2020. The rate for recycling of construction and demolition debris is already close to 100%. Cafeteria wastes are now composted; leaves are composted too. Any incineration is now done offsite at the City of Baltimore’s incinerator, which is a waste-to-energy plant.

Goal 6.0. In acquiring sustainable products and services, NIH purchases Energy Star (as rated by EPA) appliances whenever they are available and tries to identify other efficient equipment for unrated purchases. Purchasing contracts have language requiring such items as recycled/recyclable paper. NIH has met its 95% target for three years in a row. When Mr. Schofer asked about increased costs for such purchases, Ms. Hinton said that the savings in energy efficiency have made up for these costs; this is possible because of the large programs that NIH has.

Goal 7.0. Among the steps that NIH is taking to promote electrical stewardship, it has publicized its background work for employees to make good choices: for example, people used to think that computers should not be turned off, but that has now been debunked. NIH is also working on closing some of its numerous data centers as they are big power users.

Goal 8.0. To increase its use of renewable energy sources, NIH has contracted with suppliers, achieving use of more than 10% renewables vs. the federal guideline of 7.5%. Sometimes this costs a little more and sometimes a little less than other energy sources.

Goal 9.0. As with most federal agencies, NIH is just beginning to address the goal of becoming more resilient to climate change. One aspect is the writing up of advice for biomedical and health-care facilities.

Goal 10.0. With respect to the goal of increasing the use of energy performance contracts, NIH was able to include energy performance requirements in some multimillion dollar contracts last year and aims to do more this year.

During discussion, Ms. Michaels mentioned being able to save sometimes by borrowing to make improvements. When Mr. Reichard wondered if PEPCO’s programs like the one mentioned today are available to residents as well as to commercial establishments, Ms. Michaels provided some residential examples. Ms. Miller suggested there might be changes if PEPCO does consolidate with Excelon. Mr. Schofer remarked on PEPCO’s recent problems related to insufficient tree-trimming.

State Highway — BRAC Update of What to Expect Through the Fall — Presentation — Barb Solberg, Director of Highway Design, et al.

Ms. Solberg indicated that she and her two associates would go over the schedules for various intersection improvement projects, some of which are in place and some of which involve construction. Copies of some SHA slides were distributed. The focus today will be on Cedar Lane, Jones Bridge Road, and Route 355 at Cedar Lane.

355/Cedar Lane. Mr. Henriquez then reported that the 355 at Cedar Lane project is about 30% completed. The scope of the work includes adding a lane in each direction on Rte 355 and adding two lanes to West Cedar Lane. One of two large culverts needing replacement has already been replaced. Mr. Anderson spoke up to point out that one sidewalk that a diagram shows as open is still closed. He is familiar with the area because of his biking. Mr. Henriquez said that he would check with the contractor. Mr. Neuberg speculated that the contractor had decided that the sidewalk could not be opened yet. Ms. Solberg noted that Mr. Henriquez meets monthly with the construction group. Mr. Schofer suggested that since this is the busiest intersection in Montgomery County, designers and construction personnel need to talk more often. He also commented that the pavement markings are not correct and can’t just be freshened up.

Mr. Henriquez then spoke about a traffic signal that has not yet been put up. He also indicated that construction of a pedestrian bridge was started in phase 2A, and in phase 2C (of this MOT [maintenance of traffic] project) a hiker-biker trail will be built and the pedestrian bridge will be opened. Phase 2D includes an entrance to Stone Ridge School, sidewalk work, and regular use of that pedestrian bridge.

Phase 3 starts work on a culvert and widening of Cedar Lane, and phase 4 completes the second third of the culvert, dividing of traffic, and a hiker-biker trail north of Cedar Lane. The culvert and some sidewalk work are completed in Phase 5. Responding to a question from Mr. Schofer, Mr. Henriquez said that there would be a continuous right turn lane from Rte 355 to West Cedar Lane. Since the pedestrian bridge is not near this intersection, Mr. Schofer then expressed concern about pedestrian safety. When Ms. Haley commented that the phases seem different from those presented originally, she was told that the design phases are a work in progress and not complete as yet.

Ms. Miller then reported on her experience today coming from Old Georgetown Road and having to sit through four cycles of the traffic lights at Rte 355 because of no lanes turning south towards NIH from Cedar Lane; the lanes were only for turning north. There needs to be a shifting of lane designations during rush hours. Ms. Abeles asked about coordination with hospital construction. When Ms. Solberg said that the lanes should be adequate for traffic once construction is completed, Ms. Miller did not agree on adequacy at rush hours. She proposed that there be no NIH street parking allowed on Cedar Lane. Mr. Hernandez said that currently there are two left turn lanes, one thru lane, and one thru plus right turn lane; after construction there will be two left turn lanes, two thru lanes, and one right turn lane. Meanwhile Ms. Witt said that she agreed with Ms. Miller on the current problem for right turns onto Rte 355. A new question was whether the parking is a county issue.

Ms. Leuders brought up a question about where the other side of Cedar Lane (coming from the location of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cedar Lane) enters the Rte 355 intersection. She finds that the current configuration, with two left turn lanes and one lane for going straight or turning right squeezes traffic. Is there a plan to alleviate this? Mr. Henriquez said that at the end of the project, there will be two left turn lanes, one thru lane, and one thru plus right turn lane.

The lengths of time for the eastbound and westbound crossings were also mentioned, with experiences being shared of 10- to 30-minute delays, and suggestions to improve the coordinated timing of traffic lights. Ms. Miller noted that the county transportation staff will be coming again soon to talk with the CLC. The proposed final date for this project is October 2015. Mr. Hernandez assured everyone that the conditions now on Cedar Lane are temporary; he also cautioned that there will be some additional traffic shifts during culvert construction.

Jones Bridge Road. Mr. Hernandez explained that the Jones Bridge Road project is being combined with a Montgomery County project, which is scheduled to start in May 2015, and will follow the schedule set by the County. The county is looking at how to accommodate traffic from a new grocery store and new apartments on Battery Lane. In the BRAC funded project, the channelized island will be removed and a shorter pedestrian crossing constructed. A new lane will be added on the NIH side. A fourth pedestrian crossing is also planned. Improvements are planned too for the trail at NIH, and some sidewalks will be resurfaced. The entrance to Woodmont Avenue from Rte 355 south will go from two lanes to one at the curve. This will make it easier for pedestrians to cross. Then, further south on Woodmont Avenue, the one lane will return to two. There will be striping and signage.

When asked about the number of lanes at Rte 355 and the main entrance to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, SHA staff said that the number of lanes there will remain at six; no new lanes will be added. Responding to a question from a CLC member, Mr. Henriquez stated that the aim overall is to lessen traffic difficulties but not to eliminate delays completely. Ms. Michaels voiced concerns about (1) the right turn onto Jones Bridge Rd. from Rte 355 (north) being too fast, (2) a “concrete jungle” that is not stormwater friendly, and (3) difficulty for pedestrians crossing at this intersection. Ms. Haley wondered about having a no-turn on red with a full stop. When a “stop for pedestrians” sign was proposed, Mr. Henriquez said that that had already been ruled out.

West Cedar Lane. Ms. Lichenstein noted that she would focus on another part of the BRAC project, the intersection of Old Georgetown Rd. with W. Cedar Lane. Right-of-way acquisition is 99% complete. SHA is negotiating with PEPCO on where to move some utility poles. Some minor WSSC (Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission) work will be undertaken to move some hydrants. Washington Gas has already completed the changes it needed to make. The contract for this intersection’s work is scheduled to start on September 29, 2014 and to last one year.

The phases of construction include the following: (1) an informational public outreach plan, (2) an incident management plan, (3) six short phases of construction, first on one side of the road and then on the other, (4) some off-peak (after 10 a.m. and before 3 p.m.) lane closures and flagging, (5) accommodating pedestrians in all phases. There will always be sidewalk access. An apron will be reconstructed. The estimated cost is $4.7 million, with some Department of Defense funding and some state funding.

When Ms. Miller asked about the effect on the fire department, Ms. Lichenstein said that one lane would always be open, and that a back parking lot could also provide access. An analysis was undertaken that led to this plan. Ms. Mazuzan remarked on seeing workmen today doing some surveying and putting marks on the street; Ms. Lichenstein commented that the men were probably marking the locations of utilities. Mr. Schofer requested that the surveyors be told not to park their vans in the middle of the street any more.

Trail. Ms. Lichenstein then indicated – regarding a trail project – that the trail would start at Lincoln Drive, go towards Center Drive, and reach Charles Street north of Cedar Lane. This will be a 10-foot-wide bike trail. This project is now going through a funding process that will likely determine whether the trail will be built during the next fiscal year or the following one.

NIH Updates — Bradley Moss, ORF

A helicopter is scheduled to take photographs on the NIH campus on the morning of September 24.  


CLC Members 
Nancy Abeles, Bethesda Crest
Marian Bradford, Camelot Mews 
Margaret Dittemore, Huntington Terrace
Ellen Larsen, Sonoma Citizens Assn
Kira Leuders, NIH Alumni Assn
Deborah Michaels, Glenbrook Village
Ginny Miller, Wyngate
Marilyn Mazuzan, Oakmont
Ralph Schofer, Maplewood
Jennette Wade, Whitehall
Andrea Witt, Huntington Pkwy

NIH Staff 
Amy Blackburn, DEP, ORF
Susan Hinton, DEP, ORF
Brad Moss, ORS, ORF
Tara Mowery, OCL, OCPL
Phil Neuberg, ORF

Guests, US Congressional staff 
Joan Kleinman, district director for Rep. Van Hollen
Ken Reichard, asst. to Senator Cardin
Vernon Anderson, NIGMS

Guests, MD State Highways Admin.
Armando Henriquez, project manager
Rebecca Lichenstein, project manager
Barb Solberg, director of design

Guests, Neighborhoods
Kathleen Haley, Bethesda Crest

Linda Silversmith, Audio Associates

This page last reviewed on March 9, 2017