BETHESDA, MD (March 23, 2009) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett for a press conference at the Medical Center Metro Station in Bethesda to tout the State’s ongoing commitment to partner with local and federal leaders as the State prepares for BRAC.
“Working together as One Maryland, Maryland and Montgomery County are BRAC-Ready. Still, we recognize that these are challenging times and state and local government have been hit particularly hard,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Because of these difficult times, now more than ever, it’s important that we work in open cooperation with our local and federal partners. Governor O’Malley and I commend Rep. Van Hollen and all of Team Maryland’s efforts to seek additional funding from the Department of Defense for BRAC projects and we look forward to continuing our work at the state level to complement their efforts.”
Congressman Van Hollen announced his plans to request $40 million in the Federal FY2010 budget for transportation and pedestrian improvements surrounding Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center (Walter Reed). With an additional 4,000 daily visits anticipated when the new medical center is opened in September 2011, this request will help the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) fund a multi-modal approach to mitigation involving transit, pedestrian, bicycle and roadway improvements that supports the success of the Walter Reed’s mission and ensures our nation’s wounded warriors are able to access the care they have earned.
“The new Walter Reed Hospital National Military Medical Center will be a world-class center of excellence, and we are committed to ensuring our wounded warriors have the best care. We must also ensure that our wounded soldiers, their families and caregivers, as well as members of the surrounding community, do not get stuck in traffic gridlock on what is already one of the most congested roadways in our region. Avoiding traffic gridlock will require the joint efforts of the federal, state and local governments. I am pleased to have helped secure federal funds to begin that process. I will also be requesting an additional $40 million for transit, roadway and pedestrian projects needed to accommodate the relocation of Walter Reed to this site in the 2010 federal budget,” said Van Hollen.
“The people of Montgomery County appreciate the leadership shown by Governor O’Malley and Lieutenant Governor Brown, and our Congressional delegation – Congressman Van Hollen and Senators Mikulski and Cardin to ensure the success of the expanded Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “It will be our honor to host in Montgomery County our wounded warriors and their families. We owe them our thanks. We also owe them – and all the residents of our County – our best efforts in accommodating the additional stress this relocation will put on our County.”
As many as 2,300 jobs will move to Montgomery County when Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. is moved to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. The State and County face transportation challenges around the installation. MDOT has identified several short-term roadway improvements surrounding the installation and has fully-funded the design stage of those projects. Public meetings on proposed designs of intersection improvements will be held within the next month, with the first already scheduled for April 2 at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
During his remarks, Brown highlighted the important role that partnerships between state, local and federal leaders have played in Maryland’s preparations for BRAC and cited the recent passage of the Federal recovery package as an added fruit of that partnership. The federal recovery package, signed into law by President Barack Obama last month, provides Maryland with nearly $4 billion of federal support, including $502 million for shovel-ready, “fix-it-first” transportation projects across the state. Governor Martin O’Malley announced last week that Montgomery County will receive $57.3 million of that dedicated transportation funding, including $8.5 million that will be allocated directly to the County to use for its own priority projects.
Earlier this month, President Obama signed the Federal omnibus bill, which includes more than $56 million for BRAC-related projects in Maryland, including $3 million for intersection improvements along Rockville Pike in Bethesda. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, who led efforts in the Senate to protect funding for BRAC projects, applauded Brown, Van Hollen and Leggett’s efforts to secure additional Federal support for BRAC projects in Montgomery County.
“BRAC brings great opportunities, but it also brings great challenges. That's why I want to make sure Maryland has what it needs in the federal checkbook to implement the BRAC decisions and meet the increased demands on our communities,” said Mikulski, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee. “That’s why I fought to secure $56.7 million in the recently passed 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act for BRAC-related Maryland projects, including $3 million for intersection improvements to Rockville Pike. This funding will help BRAC-ready our transportation systems and keep Marylanders on the move.”
Brown stressed that these are challenging times and the economic crisis has hit local and county governments particularly hard. Because of the economic times, Brown acknowledged that many priorities in Montgomery County and across the state have been deferred, including several BRAC-related construction projects previously identified by the Maryland Department of Transportation. Brown joined Leggett and Van Hollen in calling on the Department of Defense to provide any available funding to help Maryland address its BRAC needs.
# # #