This spring County Executive Leggett expressed his appreciation at a press event to announce the appropriation of $300 million by the United States Congress for projects to relieve traffic congestion in Bethesda and other communities with military hospitals impacted by Defense Base Closure and Realignment or BRAC for short.
Under BRAC, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center will close its northwest Washington campus on September 15. It will consolidate in Bethesda, with the National Naval Medical Center becoming the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Personnel working at the Bethesda campus will increase by 33 percent, going from the current 8,000 employees commuting each day to 10,500. Visits to the hospital campus will double from the current 500,000 to one million a year.
All BRAC-related construction on the Navy campus has been fully funded, but until now the federal government had not funded the cost of adapting Bethesda’s roads, transit network and pedestrian facilities to accommodate this dramatic growth. The County and State have collaborated on a number of improvements that have been completed or are underway. The new funding will be used for essential upgrades to major intersections, improvements to vehicle and pedestrian mobility, and enhanced access to the Medical Center Metro station.
Mr. Leggett urged residents, commuters and visitors to Bethesda to be patient because it will be some time before all the transportation projects are completed. In the meantime, anyone traveling through Bethesda may want to consider alternatives to driving alone, including transit, carpools, vanpools, biking or walking rather. For more information on transportation alternatives, go to the Division of Transit Services' commuter website. The County’s BRAC website lists construction updates.