New Entrance for Bethesda Metro Station On the Way
Conceptual designs unveiled; entrance also designed to serve planned Purple Line.
Conceptual designs were laid out yesterday before the Montgomery County Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Environment and Energy committee for a new south entrance to the Bethesda Metro station. The entrance is also designed to serve the planned Purple Line station, a proposed 16-mile light rail line that would run between Bethesda and New Carrollton.
The south entrance is planned for Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street and would include four to six high-speed elevators, emergency stairs from the Metro to Elm Street, and a new mezzanine and pedestrian passageway at the south end of the station, according to the designs.
"Are [the elevators] better than the escalators?" Councilman Roger Berliner, (D-Dist.1), joked. A rehabilitation project has for months left escalators from the train platform to the ticket area out of service in the Bethesda station, drawing ire from the community.
The new entrance would add additional access for commuters, WMATA officials said, and decrease trip time. WMATA estimates that about 70 percent of commuters arrive at the station on foot, necessitating more stairs and elevator access to the platform. The station ranks the third busiest in Montgomery County, according to WMATA.
About $55 million has been programmed for construction of the project, but it's not yet known when construction will start. Public meetings are planned for the fall on the project, with preliminary design following from November through May of 2011 and final design planned to wrap up in May of 2012.
At the hearing, Montgomery County Department of Transportation also gave an update on the Bethesda Bikeways and Pedestrian Facilities Capital improvements project first launched in the 1990s. One of the final portions of the plan to improve pedestrian circulation and path connectivity for bikers is a shared-use path along the north side of Bethesda Avenue between Woodmont Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue. Since the plan calls for the removal of metered parking spots along the north side of Bethesda Aveneue, DOT officials told the committee the project would wait until the completion of Lot 31, a public parking garage that will bring about 1200 new parking spots to the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues, to begin work on the path. The lot is expected to open in February of 2014, according to DOT.