With Federal Grant, Rockville Pike Underpass Project Fully Funded
$40 million has been awarded to Montgomery County to fund the underpass and elevators to connect Walter Reed Bethesda with the Medical Center Metro station.
Montgomery County has been awarded a $40 million federal grant that will fund a pedestrian underpass and high-speed elevators to connect the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with the Medical Center Metrorail station.
The funding was announced Monday by the Department of Defense.
The pedestrian underpass, which will cross beneath the Rockville Pike, and the three elevators are a part of a host of transportation improvements planned near the military hospital to ease the traffic impacts of the federally-mandated Base Realignment and Closure program. BRAC drew 2,500 new employees to the military hospital last year as the Walter Reed Army Medical Center relocated to Bethesda, and yearly visitors there are expected to nearly double to 1 million.
County and state officials last year asked the DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment for nearly $90 million for the transportation projects—including $40 million for the 355 crossing project—out of a pot of $300 million in federal funds set aside for communities with BRAC-impacted military hospitals.
Project plans for the 355 crossing project and intersection improvement projects at four major intersections near the hospital were approved last fall. Now, the $40 million will be released to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation to construct the underpass and elevators. Along with a $28,174,000 grant already awarded from DOD’s Defense Access Road Program, the $68,174,000 project is fully funded, according to county BRAC coordinator Phil Alperson.
The county is hoping to break ground on the project in 2013 and wrap up construction by December of 2016, Alperson said.
Four other defense department grants totaling $48.9 million for the intersection improvement projects, managed by the Maryland State Highway Administration, are expected to be released soon, Alperson said.
“I am pleased that the county has been awarded this $40 million for the project to relieve congestion and improve access for military personnel and families at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from the Medical Center Metro station in Bethesda,” County Executive Isiah Leggett said in a statement. “These funds will allow us to build new elevators to the Metrorail platform and a pedestrian underpass to get thousands of daily rail, bus and carpool commuters, pedestrians and cyclists safely across Rockville Pike.”