The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda (WRNMMC-Bethesda), formerly the National Naval Medical Center, is the premier Department of Defense (DoD) medical center offering intensive and complex specialty and sub-specialty medical services for the most seriously injured personnel from all military services. WRNMMC-Bethesda is located on the 243-acre Naval Support Activity Bethesda campus with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) located across the street.
Pursuant to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission report, all tertiary medical services from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC have relocated to the new WRNMMC in Bethesda. This relocation of patients and personnel has resulted in 2,500 additional staff (a 33 percent increase) to the Bethesda campus and a doubling of visitors to one million per year.
The area of Bethesda impacted by BRAC is a densely populated and highly-urbanized community inside the Capital Beltway with established residential neighborhoods and a thriving commercial district. The relocation of patients and personnel has increased traffic on already congested roadways.
Montgomery County and the State of Maryland have worked closely with community members to identify and prioritize necessary transportation improvements to assist DoD in meeting its mission of exemplary medical care while maintaining the quality of life for Maryland residents. Four key intersections along MD 355 adjacent to the Medical Center, an underground passageway, and deep elevators to connect the Medical Center metro station to the campus (known as the MD355 multi-modal crossing project) are the top priorities.
Created in 2007 by County Executive Order, the BRAC Implementation Committee -comprising local, state, and federal agency representatives, elected officials, installation liaisons, and community representatives- has identified short, intermediate, and long-term mitigation measures to assist with transportation issues resulting from BRAC growth. These measures include increased access to the Medical Center Metro rail and bus systems, additional turn lanes, traffic signalization, widening installation roads, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and development of a Transportation Management Plan.
The County, State, and Federal governments have contributed millions of dollars toward intersection and bicycle/pedestrian improvements, several of which are completed or are currently under construction. Montgomery County and the State of Maryland have programmed approximately $50 million for bicycle, pedestrian, and intersection improvements, and congressionally directed funding has added $9.4 million for intersection improvements. Additionally, the DoD has committed over $28 million in Defense Access Road funds for the MD355 multi-modal crossing project.
In addition to transportation issues, temporary housing for families visiting patients or for recovering wounded warriors receiving long-term outpatient care at the hospital may be a future challenge. While BRAC expansion includes the construction of additional enlisted quarters and several new Fisher Houses (homes to accommodate family lodging near military hospitals), it is unclear if additional off-campus facilities will be necessary and what role the county might play in this regard. The county continues to monitor on-campus construction and housing needs and is considering ways to assist DoD in identifying convenient and affordable housing for DoD personnel and patient families.
To view the community’s 2009 Mission Growth Profile, click here.