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Navy Study on Walter Reed Lays Out Traffic Impact

Maryland Community News - July 23, 2013, By Agnes Blum, Staff writer

The Navy released its two-volume final environmental impact statement regarding the effect of two construction projects at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center campus in Bethesda on Friday.

One of the Navy's two projects evaluated in the study involves replacing five small buildings on the Walter Reed campus with one 573,000-square-foot building.

The other project involves building a 341,000-square-foot education and research facility and a 144,000-square-foot above-ground parking garage at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The 243-acre Bethesda campus is bounded by Rockville Pike to the west, with the National Institutes of Health main campus and the Medical Center Metro Station across the street. To the north sits Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart and Columbia Country Club is to the south.

Ever since the campus was expanded under the Base Realignment and Closure program known as BRAC, traffic has been an issue.

The Navy has been diligent in addressing the congestion that spills from the campus onto Rockville Pike, often times backing it up in both directions, said Phil Alperson, the Montgomery County BRAC coordinator.

One of the issues mentioned in the statement is that between the two new projects, 900 new parking spots will be added to the campus. This may be a problem because many personnel work odd shifts that transit options may not be available, Alperson said, and many will end up driving.

That's 900 more cars on the road every day.

"The Navy has worked hard to get people to find other ways to work," Alperson said. With these new buildings, it will have to keep that effort up.

Some of those efforts have been building a series of connecting bicycle pathways that lead to and cut through the campus, working with transportation officials to revamp the nearby Metro and encouraging use of public transportation and carpooling, Alperson said.

Now that the statement has been released, the public has 30 days to submit comments, until Aug. 19. Comments will be considered when final decisions are made.

The two-volume document can be viewed online at www.wrnmmc.capmed.mil/PatientVisitors/SitePages/EIS.aspx

Hard copies are also available to the public at five Montgomery County libraries: Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Davis, Kensington Park, and Rockville Memorial. A copy also is available at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. To ensure a staffer will be available, call 240-777-8200.

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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.