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Advisory Group Backs New Bethesda Metro Station Entrance

Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board says new entrance will help Metro commuters avoid headaches.

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board is lending its support to funding for a new south entrance to the Bethesda Metro station.

The advisory group voiced support for the project -- which would bring a total of six high-speed elevators between the street level at Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street, the Red Line Metro station, and a planned Bethesda station on the Purple Line -- in a letter late last month to the Montgomery County Council weighing in on County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed capital budget.

Leggett (D) recommended delaying construction funds for the project in his proposed spending plan, a move he said would With funding for the 16-mile light rail project still unsecured, it’s not clear when it will move forward, and construction of the new entrance is “inseparable” from construction of the Purple Line station, officials have said.

But the move to delay the funding was blasted by transportation advocates, who say the new entrance will provide a needed alternative to the bemoaned Bethesda station entrance escalators, in 2014.

A Montgomery County Council transportation committee voted last month .

“The WMCCAB fully supports funding the Bethesda Metro Station South Entrance. With the upcoming reconstruction of the station’s escalators and the already crowded rush hour conditions, the additional capacity provided by a bank of high speed elevators could prove critical to avoiding frustration and delays for the many county residents who use the station on a regular basis,” wrote the group. “Funding this project also sends a positive message to Annapolis about the county’s commitment to Bethesda and the Purple Line.”

What are your thoughts on the new Bethesda Metro station entrance? Is it needed? Should construction funds for the project be freed up while plans for the Purple Line gel, or should the project move forward independently? Tell us in the comments.

BERNIE FISKEN March 07, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Having lived and worked in the Third World, I can attest that the present Elevator/Escalator condition at the Bethesda Metro Station is more like a Third World situation than a Developed World situation. It is ridiculous to talk about "Smart Growth" in Bethesda using the Bethesda Metro Station as a key component of that "Smart Growth". Having people arriving at the Bethesda Metro Station constantly "schlepp" their suitcases up the non-functioning escalators is "DUMB GROWTH". Those of us who are frequent users of the Bethesda Metro Station deserve better. Smart Growth mandates that a New Station Entrance is needed NOW, rather than a Purple Line that further feeds into a mal-functioning Bethesda Metro Station. .
Wayne Phyillaier March 07, 2012 at 12:48 PM
There have been some misleading reports that this New Bethesda Metro Station entrance is in direct competition for budget funding with the Wheaton redevelopment project, and we can only have one or the other. But that has always been a false choice. The Council T&E Committee is working to find funding for the new Bethesda Station entrance by delaying or stretching out funding for several roads projects. The total proposed budget for transportation items in the six-year CIP would remain about the same, so non-transportation budget items would not come under addtional budget pressure because of budget recommendations from the T&E committee. We can support both the new Bethesda Metro Entrance and Wheaton redevelopment.
Jane Boynton March 07, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Frequently all three Bethesda escalators are not functioning. The elevator is extremely slow. One has the choice of climbing 175 stairs or waiting in a long line to get on the elevator. I believe it is a matter of public safety to provide high speed elevators to get people to the surface safely and quickly.
Ajay Bhatt March 07, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Fast-tracking upgrades to the existing escalators and elevator would provide Metro riders with better service in a much shorter time period. With regards to new elevators - It would make much more financial and logistical sense to build the elevators while the construction of the Purple Line station is ongoing. Ike Leggett is right - fund the elevators when the time is right.
K. Colton March 09, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Metro is unreliable. The RideOn Buses are erratic. The Bethesda Metro station is the pits, just like the DuPont station. If the local jurisdictions - including Montgomery County - are serious about public transportation to reduce congestion, pollution, and parking issues along with smart growth, then having a means to exit the subway without being hostage to escalators that may or may not function should be budgeted. As it is, there have been times when people like me were trapped in Bethesda without a means of escape due to escalator malfunction when Metro blocked off the malfunctioning escalators. We have a 1960's style subway, subway stations, and related equipment that were not designed to carry the passenger loads today. So, if there is a new exit, or other addition to the subway, my vote is to get a workable design. Elegant style that is not functionally adequate should not be built.

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