Medical Center Appropriation
Letter to Council President Floreen, June 26, 2016
Dear Council President Floreen,
The Action Committee for Transit recommends that the County Council approve the proposed supplemental appropriation for the MD 355 crossing. A new elevator entrance to the Medical Center Metro station on the east side of Rockville Pike is badly needed to improve access to transit and to speed evacuation from the station in emergencies. Both the Navy and the Planning Board identified it as the most-needed transportation improvement in the entire Walter Reed BRAC program.
Regrettably, MCDOT has insisted on bundling the new Metro entrance with road widenings at two intersections on MD 355 and a pedestrian underpass under that road. The pedestrian underpass, in particular, will be costly and disruptive, and it serves little purpose. WMATA's study found that crossing the road on foot through the underpass will be no faster than waiting for the traffic light and using the crosswalk. Construction of this facility by cut-and-cover will seriously interfere with both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
We urge the Council to instruct MCDOT to build the Metro entrance first and delay work on the underpass until the elevators are in operation. Once the new entrance is open, travel to Walter Reed by Metro will no longer require crossing the Pike, and usage of the crosswalk is expected to drop by more than 50%. At that point, a decision can be made on whether the value of the underpass justifies the cost and construction disruption.
Ronit Aviva Dancis
Action Committee for Transit