Fed Money to Fund BRAC Too Little, Too Late?

Road improvements will not be done in time

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    This September, an estimated 2,200 new workers and half a million visitors will change locations from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. to a newly reconstructed campus on Rockville Pike in Bethesda.  It's part of  the Base Realignment Program (BRAC).

    The already-congested roadway needs major improvements to handle the traffic, but Montgomery County has lacked the funding to do the work.  

    There are two areas Montgomery County planners want to focus on -- intersections near the Medical Center and the Medical Center Metro station. But without enough money, no dates for construction have been set and some of the projects are not completely planned yet.

    "It's going to be tough," said Phil Alperson, the county's BRAC coordinator. "It takes a long time to plan these projects, and they were not fully funded, and these projects were dropped in our laps and they were not planned at all when BRAC happened."

    Now $300 million has been set aside in the 2011 federal budget to help fund the Bethesda realignment.  If approved, that money will be shared with other BRAC projects including Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, where they need major roadway construction on Route 1, and San Antonio, Texas, as well.

    "At the end of the day, when these improvements are done, traffic will be a little better than it is today, even with the increased movement to Navy Medical," Alperson said.

    But it’s the in-between time that has commuters concerned.

    "It’s too little, too late," commuter Melissa Brozez said. "I think it's going to be a big problem.  It’s already hard enough trying to leave work, it’s going to be a big problem."