Metro Advances Rockville Pike Pedestrian Underpass Project
Underpass and elevators would improve connectivity between Walter Reed Bethesda and the Medical Center Metro station.
Metro has advanced a project that would construct a pedestrian underpass beneath Rockville Pike and three high-speed elevators to improve connectivity between the Medical Center Metro station and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to a news release last Thursday.
The project is expected to be complete in early 2015.
The $68 million Rockville Pike crossing project is 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 3,600 new employees to the military hospital in 2011 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 in 2011 asked the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment for nearly $90 million for the transportation projects—including $40 million for the crossing project—out of a pot of $300 million in federal funds set aside for communities with BRAC-impacted military hospitals.
Funds were set aside for the projects last year. With an additional $28,174,000 grant already awarded from DOD’s Defense Access Road Program, the crossing project is fully funded.
At Medical Center, four new escalators and two new elevators would connect the pedestrian tunnel and the street level, while the three high-speed elevators on the east side of the Pike would provide direct access to the station mezzanine level.
The project was advanced by the Metro Board Finance and Administration Committee Thursday, according to the release.
“The new entrance and pedestrian tunnel will make it easier and safer for pedestrians traveling between the station and the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,” Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles said in a statement. “The project has the added benefit of providing redundancy to the existing station entrance escalators, which will be replaced in the coming years.”