Update: MCDOT’s plan for Nebel Street

Update: MCDOT’s plan for Nebel Street

In January, we reported that MCDOT had plans to calm traffic and improve the travel experience on Nebel Street.  Engineer Kyle Liang of MCDOT was at the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee to share some ideas on how that might look, and he returned this month with an update on their thinking.

As a recap, Nebel Street stretches from Nicholson Lane to Randolph Road and has 47′ of pavement, curb to curb. So, the question is: how do we best use this pavement?  At the moment, the road has three travel lanes (one in each direction and a center lane for left turns) and two parking lanes.  Here is MCDOT’s latest proposal:

20140311_212456_LLS (1)


Although the graphic says 10′ travel lanes, Mr. Liang said the lanes would be 11′ wide (which makes the road add up to the full 47′ available).  So, we have two travel lanes, two bike lanes and two parking lanes.  At the intersections with Old Georgetown Road and Marinelli, a center turning lane will be necessary so the extra space will come from a parking lane.  Because nearly all of the planned redevelopment is on the western side of Nebel, the parking there is expected to be prioritized.


Two major concerns we have: 

First – the pavement narrows as the street heads north toward Randolph Road so the bike lanes are projected to just end about half a block from that intersection.  Mr. Liang describes that a road sign would alert bicyclists and drivers that they are now to share the travel lane.  We believe that, at a minimum, sharrows (see below) should be painted in the travel lane to really drive the point home.  A bicyclist’s trip is not going to end abruptly mid-block, so we need to do everything possible to ensure their safety as they approach the intersection.  A sharrow is an inexpensive way to do this.



Second – Concerns remain about the safety of turning left from Marinelli Road onto Nebel Street.  Because of curves and parked vehicles, visibility is very limited and makes for a treacherous turn.  The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee asked Mr. Liang to consider a three-way stop sign there to assist both pedestrians and turning vehicles.  A similar move at the intersection with Old Georgetown Road has made a world of difference and was, arguably, less in need of the improvement.

Image from Google Maps

It was noted that the stop bar, which you can make out from the photo above, is set back quite far from the corner which makes it even harder to see.  Mr. Liang did note the intention to add curb extensions to the eastern sides which will allow cars to move up even farther in preparation for turning and, hopefully, have better visibility in doing so.


It’s worth mentioning here that this project does not yet have final funding so these ideas are totally conceptual.  But, the county does have a traffic calming budget so, if these improvements could be classified within this, we might be able to see the project completed this year.  In the meantime, MCDOT is collecting comments on the proposal.  Friends of White Flint plans to send a letter and we’d like your input – email us at info@whiteflint.org or comment here with your opinions!

Lindsay Hoffman



Steve Thornton

It’s ridiculous that we’re putting so much effort into what is essentially a decent road for walkers and bicyclists, given the REAL hazards that drivers, bicyclists, and walkers have to face when using Nicholson/Parklawn. Makes no sense.

    Lindsay Hoffman

    I’d categorize this as low-hanging fruit. It’s pretty inexpensive to restripe a road (that badly needs it anyway) and add a couple of curb bump-outs and (hopefully) a three-way stop. As a driver was killed earlier this year on Nebel, it’s not a road worth ignoring. Which isn’t to say other roads are being ignored. Parklawn is outside of the White Flint Sector but Nicholson’s improvements will likely require funds from the county’s capital budget, which makes it a longer term project. You’re right that MCDOT should be looking at ways to improve the pedestrian/bicycling experience in the meantime and we’re asking them to do that.

Alison Dewey

I like the proposed improvements for traffic calming. Curb extensions make a world of difference, so too stop signs. A few other things that could make Nebel safer without much cost or effort:
1. cut the hedge on the corner of Nebel and Nicholson, this blinds the drivers view of pedestrians crossing Nebel at the top of the hill. I love the greenery but in reality, this hedge creates such a very dangerous crossing.
2. Going up the hill on Nebel to turn left on Nicholson should be marked with a left turn lane and a straight through lane. As a cyclist riding home from the Metro, I’ve nearly been hit by cars turning left onto Nicholson in the right lane.
3. Restrict large trucks from parking on the Nebel hill going up to Nicholson – so often there are trucks waiting to load cars from the dealership completely blocking the righthand part of the lane.
4. I’d also suggest considering a small roundabout at the intersections of Marinelli/Nebel and again at Old Georgetown/Nebel in lieu of stop signs- these make wonderful traffic calming solutions and tend to keep traffic going a little more smoothly than stop signs.

Additionally, I would think WMATA would be interested in these improvements as well. They are always looking for ways to make the 2 miles surrounding the metro safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Parking at stations is becoming scarce and encouraging walking or riding is a ton cheaper than building another parking garage.

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