Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Bethesda's legendary "Last Gas" is just a pile of rubble.

Long known as the literal last chance gas station for drivers heading north to Interstates 270 and 495, the Amoco/BP service station was the refueling savior of many a driver who just realized the tank was nearly empty.

Now demolition crews have obliterated the station.

Contrast the two time periods in the photos below, including the famous Last Gas sign.

Then wonder, what the heck is going on at this site?

A gas station renovation usually involves the below-ground gas tanks, and interior of the garage and office space.  Here, all of the above have been wiped out.

Suspicious detail #1: Searches of online databases for Montgomery County Government and Montgomery County Planning Board for "8101 Wisconsin Avenue" yield no results.  There is no development application on file - or at least, one that can be accessed by the taxpaying citizens. Not even a permit for the demolition just completed came up. So much for "open government."

Suspicious detail #2: Examining the map, you'll notice a county public parking lot directly behind the gas station site.  Hmm.  Could there be a politician-developer plot afoot to turn that entire block into a new, mixed-use development?

Why the silence?

Consider this fact:

Now, when the gas station at Wisconsin and Battery Lane is demolished in the near future, there will literally be no gas stations - at all - along Bethesda's Main Street, Wisconsin Avenue.  Not just no Last Gas.  No gas.

This won't be the first or last time I point out that this kind of poor urban planning poses a serious danger to the public.  I know some people with their heads in the clouds chuckle about the idea that we're running out of gas stations.

We'll see who's laughing when Bethesda's handful of remaining gas stations run out of gas, after a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy.  Remember the gas lines in New Jersey? The gas shortages?

That's the direction we're headed, if we don't switch to a plan for responsible growth in this county.


Anonymous said...

replacement of BP Gas Station with low-rise bank building....


Robert Dyer said...

Thank you for the tip. What a great example of how broken and corrupt our development process has become in Montgomery County, that a project moving forward cannot be accessed for review by taxpayers through either the county or planning board website! I don't believe that's legal, much less ethical. I entered the BP station address into both databases, and got no results. It's outrageous.