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BRAC Funds May Be Closer to Reality

Language allocating transportation funds for BRAC-impacted military hospitals made it into the federal budget deal agreed upon Friday.

The much-anticipated language allocating $300 million for transportation improvements near BRAC-impacted military hospitals made it into a federal spending bill agreed upon last Friday.

The spending bill was hashed out by Congressional leaders in the eleventh hour before a federal continuing resolution was due to expire, leaving many preparing for the possibility of a government shut down.

As the area prepares for the September merger of the with Walter Reed Army Medical Center, officials from a variety of agencies have been working together to plan improvements to mitigate the increase in traffic the move will bring. The merger is part of the federally mandated Base Realignment and Closure process.

But many of those improvements, such as intersection improvements and upgrades to the Medical Center Metro station that would include a pedestrian tunnel beneath Route 355 and deep elevators, are dependent upon the federal funds. The status of the federal dollars has

There was a celebratory mood at the BRAC implementation committee meeting Tuesday evening as the group learned the money is closer to reality. Some had it would be allocated in time for the transition.

But the spending bill still needs to pass the U.S. House and Senate before the dollars are finalized. “Until it passes, I’m not celebrating,” said Phil Alperson, Montgomery County BRAC coordinator, at the meeting.

If passed, the $300 million would be allocated to the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment, which would set up a process for BRAC-impacted communities to apply for the funds. The money is intended for transportation improvements in communities with BRAC-impacted military hospitals, which includes Bethesda, Fort Belvoir and San Antonio.

Some state and federal dollars have been set aside for the intersection improvements and the Metro upgrades, but about $100 million more is needed to complete the intersections and construct the pedestrian tunnel and Metro elevators, Alperson said.

Additional projects, including bike paths and sidewalks, are also planned. More information about the BRAC transition is available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/brac.

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