BRAC-related traffic solutions moving forward in Bethesda

Barb Solberg with the Maryland State Highway Administration updates community leaders and residents on the status of BRAC-related improvements at key intersections around Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. (Michelle Basch/WTOP)

Michelle Basch,

BETHESDA, Md. – The BRAC-related construction aimed at easing the traffic crush around Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is familiar to Bethesda drivers.

Now, the work is progressing.

“Weather permitting, on Connecticut Avenue you will have a new lane, a southbound lane, directly from the Beltway to Jones Bridge Road heading towards the Navy and NIH,” says Montgomery County BRAC Coordinator Phil Alperson.

“Right now when you exit the Beltway there’s not a merge lane so traffic stops. This way traffic can get on it and keep going, so that should be a major improvement.”

A northbound lane also is being added on Connecticut Avenue going toward the Beltway to help with afternoon traffic.

Both lanes are expected to be complete by summer or fall of 2013.

At a meeting Tuesday night in Bethesda, the Maryland State Highway Administration updated the expected start and finish dates for several transportation projects around the complex.

“Some of the goals of these intersection projects are to move forward with short-term intersection improvements. And I want to emphasize short-term. It’s not going to fix all the traffic problems in Bethesda,” says the SHA’s Barb Solberg.

A new timeline of the developments is available here.

In recent months, the Defense Department made federal money available to help supplement state money and fund these projects.

For instance, $12.6 million released in January 2012 will help pay for upgrades along Rockville Pike at Jones Bridge Road and at Cedar Lane.

Alperson says there won’t be many road closures associated with the construction, but at times it still will be a hassle for drivers.

“Sometimes there will be disruptions, and people are going to have to understand that it’s short-term disruption for long-term benefit,” Alperson says.

He also phrases it this way: “No pain, no gain.”

Alperson says one completed transportation project is already a success.

“The county has already completed the construction of new bike paths and sidewalks, and I know that doesn’t sound like much but it is a lot,” he says. “There are hundreds of people who are now commuting to the Navy by bike or walking who didn’t do that before.”

More helpful information about Montgomery County BRAC projects is available here.

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(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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