“Award of Excellence” for Montgomery County for the MD 355 Interchange Project in Bethesda


The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) MD 355 Crossing Project in Bethesda was selected as a 2022 “Award of Excellence” winner by the Maryland Quality Initiative (MdQI) in the category of “Most Important Projects”. $5 million.”

MdQI is a consortium of public and private sector agencies and industry associations representing the Maryland transportation industry. The organization advocates for the highest quality in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of Maryland’s transportation system.

The long-planned 355 interchange project managed by MCDOT improves capacity and access to the Medical Center Metrorail station and improves pedestrian and bicycle safety between the west and east sides of MD 355/Rockville Pike at the Institutes National Health (NIH) and Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSA Bethesda), home to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).

“This was one of the most significant improvements to pedestrian safety in Montgomery County in recent years,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “MD355/Rockville Pike at the Medical Center Metro Station has been a dangerous intersection for generations, and employees and visitors to these critical institutions deserve better. I am grateful for the recognition of MdQI.”

Construction of the complex project, which involved deep excavation carried out by drilling and blasting through rock, took around five years. The finished project includes:

  • A shallow pedestrian underpass under MD 355 that offers pedestrians and bicyclists a safe means of crossing the busy roadway.
  • A pair of new 120-foot-deep high-speed elevators and emergency stairs creating direct access between the station and the east side of MD 355.
  • A new elevator and stairwell between the existing Metrorail platform and the mezzanine.
  • Road surface improvements, such as a traffic light, pavement resurfacing, sidewalk/bike path, and median work.
  • Stormwater management facilities.

The National Naval Medical Center and the Walter Reed National Army Medical Center merged to form the WRNMMC at Naval Support Activity Bethesda in 2011 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan authorized by Congress in 2005 The facility became the second largest employer in Montgomery County. The largest employer is NIH, which is located on the opposite side of the street.

Thousands of people cross MD 355 every day to go back and forth between campuses and the Medical Center Metro located on the NIH side of MD 355.

“We are very grateful to receive this recognition for our work on this project,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “We know that the 355 Crossing project supports thousands of people and helps ensure their safety. Pre-COVID-19 projections tell us that the Medical Center Metro Station accommodates about 11,000 Metro riders daily, with an estimated 7,000 pedestrians crossing MD 355 to get to the Metro stop, Ride On, and on the way. shared use on the west side of MD-355.”

Over several years, the Maryland Congressional Delegation secured $28 million in federal appropriations for the Defense Access Road program project within the Department of Defense budget and added another $40 million from the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) for projects. transportation at BRAC -impacted military medical facility. OLDCC also awarded a $34 million supplemental grant in 2016, bringing the total funding for the project to more than $102 million. In addition, the Crossing Project has been combined with the State Highway Administration Interchange Improvement Project on MD 355/Jones Bridge Road, which was funded with a $4.8 million grant from OLDCC.

MCDOT funded an environmental assessment and directed the design and construction of the project. Additional coordinating agencies included the US Department of the Navy, the National Institutes of Health of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of State Highway Administration Maryland Transportation Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The underpass was dedicated to the late Phil Alperson at a press conference on February 25 in Bethesda. Mr. Alperson was a former Montgomery County government employee and a key Capitol aide who worked on planning the project and gaining support for the project.

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