The Navy today released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with traffic studies on how a new, 500-space underground parking garage on the Walter Reed campus could affect Rockville Pike traffic.
The Navy is looking to consolidate five small Walter Reed buildings into one large building and add facilities to the Uniformed Services University. Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) is the new name of the Naval base after Walter Reed opened in 2011 on the National Military Medical campus.
That led to an estimated growth of visitors from 500,000 per year to 1,000,000 per year and one of the region’s worst bottlenecks, on Rockville Pike between downtown Bethesda and Cedar Lane.
The section of road is sandwiched between Walter Reed/NSAB and NIH, two of Montgomery County’s largest employers.
The draft EIS concluded that more parking and larger capacity of base facilities will mean it will take the average commuter perhaps 15 more seconds to get from downtown Bethesda through the intersections that access the base.
NSAB officials have played down that figure as a minor inconvenience in a trip that has already become 10-15 minutes long.
The final EIS can be found here.
Changes from the previous traffic studies include a revision to reflect the improvements to surrounding intersections that are now being undertaken by the State Highway Administration.
Today’s release of the document triggers a 30-day public commenting period. Those comments may be considered by NSAB or the federal planning board that has final say on the projects.
County officials have questioned the accuracy of previous traffic studies because Rockville Pike was too congested to get accurate readings.
You can view the document online or in hard copies available at the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Davis, Kensington Park, and Rockville Memorial county libraries and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane). But call the Regional Service Center first (240-777-8200) to be sure a staffer will be there when you come.