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Check here for the latest media reports about BRAC, press advisories related to BRAC activities and other announcements about BRAC-related issues. Please report any bad links by clicking the below each item.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

6-21-13 Gazette.Net: $68 million project to ease traffic on Rockville Pike, increase pedestrian safety -- Including: pedestrian tunnel and high-speed

Montgomery County recently issued a request for contractors to bid on a $68 million dollar project that includes high-speed elevators to the Medical Center Metro station and a pedestrian tunnel under Rockville Pike, county transportation officials said at a public presentation on June 17.

The project, called the “Maryland Route 355 Multimodal Crossing Project,” is slated to start in the fall of 2014 and completed by the fall of 2017.

The makeover is part of the larger Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, campaign that has seen thousands more employees come to work at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. The goal of the work is to help alleviate congestion on Rockville Pike, also called Md. 355, and to increase pedestrian safety, said Holger Serrano, an engineer with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation.

Request for proposals for contractors have been issued, and are due back in the fall, Serrano said.

The project would not exceed $68 million, he said, which equals the amount granted by the U.S. Department of Defense for the project.

That money will pay for three high-speed elevators on the east side of Md. 355 that will whisk passengers from the Walter Reed Military Medical campus down to the Medical Center Metro station 120 feet below as well as for the 80-foot-long pedestrian tunnel that will run beneath Md. 355 at Wood Road. There will also be shallow escalators and elevators, as well as stairs, going to the Metro on the west side.

Serrano said the current street-level crosswalk will remain, but that he hopes people will use the tunnel instead, both for safety reasons and because it will help the traffic on Md. 355 move more quickly if cars do not have to stop for pedestrians. The county is considering adding lights and cameras to the tunnel to make it safer and more appealing, he said.

But some at the meeting expressed concern with trying to speed up traffic on Md. 355, a thoroughfare that runs through the heart of Bethesda and sees a lot of foot traffic.

Others objected to curving corners at intersections, which would allow cars to turn without having to slow down as much.

But Serrano said the time to discuss design had passed.

The project will be jointly maintained by the county and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The county will own and operate the shallow elevators and escalators on the west side and the pedestrian underpass. WMATA will own and operate the high-speed elevators.

For more information on the project, visit the website:

POSTED: 10:40:00 AM |

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

6-21-13 Gazette.Net: Construction of intelligence campus in Bethesda underway -- New, greener buildings and walking paths

You wouldn’t know it driving down Sangamore Road in Bethesda, but high on a bluff, overlooking the Potomac River and tucked behind tall trees, is the 30-acre Intelligence Community Campus.

On Thursday, the Montgomery County Planning Board heard the latest on the construction plans on the site, a federal facility that is being retrofitted by the Defense Intelligence Agency and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

The plans were submitted voluntarily to the board, which made 11 recommendations that will be sent to the National Capitol Parks Commission. One recommendation is to ensure that all of the glass being used would be treated to deter birds, who often fly into glass windows, injuring or even killing themselves. Other recommendations were to use permeable pavements on all pedestrian paths and try to capture more storm runoff.

A complete list of recommendations is posted at

Thursday’s discussion centered on one building, the Centrum building, on the south campus. The footprint of that building will be 40,470 square feet, according to documents, and will have environmentally friendly design elements, such as a green roof.

Dana Pomeroy, who is leading the design and building team for the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, said it was essential the development “fit into the fabric of the community.”

That means lots of green space and woods and using materials and colors that blend in with the architecture of the neighborhood.

The campus will be a secured site and not open to the public, but Pomeroy said that “we wanted families and folks to not feel like this was a prison.”

To that end, they plan to install numerous jogging, walking and bike trails for employees to use before, after and even during work.

The site will be an “intelligence center” and a major employer in the area, with about 3,000 employees.

The Intelligence campus will be renovated as part of the 2005 federally mandated Base Realignment and Closure, which moved thousands of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employees from Bethesda to Fort Belvoir, Va., leaving room for additional employees in Bethesda.

The campus will host employees from the National Intelligence University, additional personnel from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), administrative personnel from the Defense Intelligence Agency, and select personnel from the National Media Exploitation Center, an agency that analyzes collective intelligence, such as documents.

Bobby Bourgeois, the program manager for the project at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said community engagement was paramount to the project’s success, so the agency updated the community regularly with letters and meetings.

POSTED: 10:37:00 AM |