Navy Gives Formal Go-Ahead On Base Construction
The Navy has given the go-ahead for construction of a new medical facility and expansion of the Uniformed Services University on the Walter Reed/Naval Support Activity Bethesda campus in Bethesda. The Record of Decision was signed on Aug. 29 and published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. The construction and expansion, which went through two rounds of traffic and environmental impact studies, will add about 270 employees to the base on a daily basis. The Record of Decision (ROD) estimates the changes will generate an additional 149 to 178 staff trips to the base during the morning peak hour and an additional 177 to 209 staff trips to the base during the afternoon peak hour. Navy officials will give a presentation on the ROD on Tuesday at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane) during the regular meeting of the county's Walter Reed BRAC Integration Committee. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Traffic and parking have been chief concerns of Montgomery County officials and residents near the base, which has seen an increase in daily visits since Walter Reed opened on the installation in 2011. The draft EIS concluded the base additions will mean it will take the average commuter about 15 more seconds to get from downtown Bethesda through the intersections that access NSAB. NSAB officials played down that figure as a minor inconvenience in a trip that has already become 10 minutes, 15 minutes or even longer between Jones Bridge Road and Cedar Lane. The ROD says construction on the new medical facility should take five years. The Navy will demolish five hospital buildings (Buildings 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8) and build a single replacement facility in the same general footprint. The Navy can't disturb the main tower building (Building 1) because of its various historical designations. Construction will include a 500-space parking garage at the existing H-Lot near Jones Bridge Road. The new medical facility will mean an increase of about 50 employees. The Uniformed Services University expansion should take two years and will consist of a new, 341,000-square foot education and research facility (Building F) and a 400-space staff parking garage just west of the existing USU campus. The 220 expected additional employees from the University expansion already visit the Bethesda base regularly. The move will consolidate the staff in Bethesda. The Navy is considering three sites for interim medical buildings.