Tuesday, February 19, 2013
As the saying goes: no pain, no gain.
And along Rockville Pike, the ride can be plenty painful.
"It's bumper to bumper from the Beltway, past this area," said driver Larry Goldkind, "and a lot of it relates to traffic coming in here."
The "here" he's talking about is the National Military Medical Center. Thousands more personnel, patients and employees are using the facility because of a recent base realignment. That means traffic in the area is heavier -- but new transportation improvements are on the way.
"We are not going to get rid of traffic... I am not going to promise that," said Phil Alperson, Montgomery County's base realignment coordinator.
But a plan is in the works -- Alperson said that intersections are being improved to keep traffic moving. Additoinally, Metro just gave the go-ahead to add onto the Medical Center station. Those plans include a bank of high-speed elevators and a pedestrian tunnel that will be dug under Rockville Pike.
"This project will address a traffic situation right in front of the Navy's main gate," Alperson said.
Those who have to cross busy Rockville Pike on foot are happy to hear that they may soon be able to go under instead of over.
"You never know if people aren't paying attention," said pedestrian Lindsey Jones. "So [crossing is] always a little nerve wracking."
And there's even more construction planned for the pike.
Not far away from the medical center, a huge 17-story apartment building is coming near Wisconsin and Chase Avenues. Project leaders are hoping the residents use the nearby Metro stations rather than adding to the congestion with their own vehicles.
Crews are expected to break ground on these projects in about a year.