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Lanes along Rockville Pike, Connecticut Ave. to be torn up

Thursday - 2/9/2012, 6:32am  ET

BETHESDA, Md. - The commutes along Rockville Pike and Connecticut Avenue are about to get a lot worse as lanes are torn up near the National Institutes of Health and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

On Rockville Pike, six lanes near NlH and Walter Reed will be narrowed to four, and possibly two lanes, The Washington Post reports. Turn lanes will be added to make traffic eventually move more smoothly. The project could take three years and begins early next month.

It's all part of an effort to mitigate the addition of 2,500 employees moved to the medical center under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission plan, known as BRAC. The realignment could double to one million a year the number of visitors to that corridor.

Construction on Connecticut Avenue and Jones Bridge Road starts in late March. Right turn lanes on southbound Connecticut Avenue will be added so drivers can get to the Capital Beltway and to NIH, Walter Reed and downtown Bethesda.

About 70,000 vehicles already travel that route. Pedestrian traffic could double to about 7,000 a day at the Medical Center Metro Rail station.

All of the lanes are expected to be open during the morning and afternoon rush hours but lanes could be closed at off-peak hours.

The first sign that construction has begun will be orange barrels as underground utility lines are moved.

WTOP's Hank Silverberg contributed to this report. Follow Hank and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)