Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta today announced two grants from the Office of Economic Adjustment, including a $40,000,000 grant to Montgomery County, Md., for transportation access to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, and a $5,700,000 grant to the City of Lakewood, Wash., for improvements to the Freedom Bridge overpass near the Madigan Army Medical Center gate. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission process increased personnel and traffic at both of these communities.
Speaking at the Association of Defense Communities Annual Conference in Monterey, Calif., Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, “These programs will greatly improve access to these important and growing facilities, and they are a tangible sign of our commitment to working with communities impacted by BRAC.” During his remarks Panetta also said, “The reality is that our communities are a tremendous resource for the Department of Defense. If we are to remain the strongest military on earth, we have to protect and invest in those programs essential to the health and morale of our force; in areas such as housing, environmental cleanup, education and transportation.”
The grant to Montgomery County, Md., will facilitate a safer and easier commute for patients, service members, and civilian employees of the Walter Reed Bethesda Medical Center as well as the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bethesda campus. The 2005 BRAC round increased personnel at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center by almost one-third to 10,200, and doubled the Medical Center’s visitor load to 1,000,000 per year.
The funding is part of a $68,174,000 project, which previously received $28,174,000 from the Department’s Defense Access Road Program. The funds will be used to design and construct a shallow pedestrian and bicycle passageway under Maryland Route 355 (Rockville Pike) connecting the Medical Center side to the Medical Center Metrorail Station and transit center; and three high-speed elevators to connect the Medical Center at street level to the Metrorail mezzanine level 120 feet below. Improvements at the main entrance to the Medical Center campus are also included. The county will complete the project in coordination with the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the National Institutes of Health, the Federal Highway Administration’s DelMar Division and the Command at NSA Bethesda.
The grant to Lakewood, Wash., will alleviate congestion and improve safety along the Berkeley Street corridor between the Joint Base Lewis-McChord/Madigan Army Medical Center gate and the Union/Berkeley intersection. The funds will be used to add another eastbound lane to the bridge; a second left turn lane to the Interstate Highway 5 southbound off-ramp; upgrade and coordinate traffic signals to improve overall efficiencies of the transportation system; and add pedestrian facilities for improved safety.
The funding will improve access to Madigan Army Medical Center, facilitating a safer and easier commute for patients, service members, and civilian employees. Madigan Army Medical Center serves a beneficiary population of over 108,000 soldiers, family members, and retirees in a six-state area. Lakewood will complete the project in coordination with the State of Washington Department of Transportation and the Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Groundbreaking for the project will commence once all environmental requirements have been met.
Funding for these grants is provided under the $300 million program authorized by Section 8110 of Public Law 112-10, The DoD and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, which enabled the Department of Defense to finance projects for transportation infrastructure improvements associated with medical facilities related to the 2005 round of the Base Closure and Realignment process. In November 2011, OEA invited Montgomery County, Md., and the City of Lakewood to apply for these funds after a selection panel comprised of Defense and Transportation officials reviewed concepts to improve access to medical facilities across the nation.