Sunday, December 11, 2016

BRAC MD 355 tunnel project scheduled to begin Tuesday in Bethesda

Construction of a pedestrian tunnel under Rockville Pike (MD 355) to create a safer pedestrian connection between the Medical Center Metro station and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was expected to begin in mid-2017. But contractor Clark Construction has already requested a noise waiver from Montgomery County, and the County states that the preliminary work will begin Tuesday, December 13.

The project, on which the Montgomery County Department of Transportation is the lead agency, is being fully funded by the federal government (a.k.a. you, the federal taxpayer) to the tune of $110 million. In addition to the tunnel, high-speed elevators open to the public on the Walter Reed side of the Pike will give access to the Metro underground.

Once excavation of the tunnel gets underway (they are going to use cut-and-cover rather than a boring machine to dig the tunnel), there will be lane closures on Rockville Pike. That will pile-on to the existing traffic nightmare.

Completed projects on Jones Bridge Road and Connecticut Avenue, which promised to move cars between Walter Reed and NIH and the Beltway, turned out to be a complete failure and waste of taxpayer dollars. Residents gave up big chunks of their front yards for nothing. The line to turn left onto Connecticut during the afternoon rush is, if anything, longer than it was before. Jones Bridge is a nightmare, as is 355. And traffic now backs up from the on-ramp to the Inner Loop, jamming traffic on Connecticut. 
Long stretch of Beltway
that runs alongside
Walter Reed campus would
have been the logical place
to use $110M to construct
ramps and flyovers to keep
base traffic off local roads
Hopefully this project won't deliver such disastrous results, but the money $11 million spent on that, the $110 million going to the tunnel, and the "Herculean efforts of Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Congressman Chris Van Hollen," - to quote County Executive Ike Leggett - would have been better spent on forcing the feds to require direct access ramps into and out of Walter Reed from the Beltway. 

We are led by very stupid people, folks. Montgomery County needs to be smart to move forward, and we clearly don't have that leadership now. What good is all of the "deep intellect" and "experience," if you don't know what the hell you're doing?

Update 12/12/16: The project is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, December 13 and end in May 2020.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

#LitanyOfStDyer

Anonymous said...

#HereBeDragons

Anonymous said...

#EnviousTroll

Allan Coukell said...

None of the official MoCo sites seem to be up to date. What's your source on construction starting Monday, and any insight on how long the project is supposed to take?

Anonymous said...

How is the County government going to "force the Feds" to do anything?

Robert Dyer said...

7:47: The paperwork filed with the county states what date it is expected to begin (actually Tuesday, December 13 - I'm off by a day and will have to correct the misprint ). They say it will take until 2020(!!) to complete the project.

I noticed the lack of info on the County websites, too. I had wanted to see if they'd made any official announcement.

Robert Dyer said...

8:37: You're probably right, that our current, impotent and low-energy County Council would be unable to force them.

If we elect a wiser Council, however, we can begin to apply pressure to pain points when negotiating. Much like MCPS and WMATA, the Council has leverage it hasn't employed yet. Sad. More energy, urgency and potency is desperately needed on the Council - along with a Councilman who actually lives in Bethesda.

Anonymous said...

3 1/2 hours later and the start date still hasn't been corrected.

Robert Dyer said...

1:23: And you still haven't seen a psychiatrist.

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with Dyer here (aside from his typical rude and insulting comments about Mikulski and Leggett, without whom we would have gotten nothing). A direct access ramp to I-495 would have been the best solution. It would have probably cost more than $110 million though.

The addition of a new security and screening center and the environmental mitigation due to the presence of Rock Creek on the opposite side of the Beltway would have been expensive obstacles. Plus, there would have to be some way for NIH visitors/employees to be able to use the ramp ($$$ MD355 under/overpass) or it would hardly be worth it.

G. Money said...

How about providing more local residential development, as well as more public transit, so that people can live closer to work and not have to rely on the Beltway to drive to work at NIH/WR?

Oh wait, Dyer hates those things! War on cars!

Anonymous said...

They don't build local residential development that would be affordable.

Anonymous said...

8:37 am - Any ramps to or from the Outer Loop would intrude on Rock Creek Park, making such a project unfeasible.

11:41 am - All moderate income housing is "low income housing", filled with criminals, drug addicts, schizophrenics, and future MCPS students being bred like rabbits, saith Dyer.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Dyer always goes negative and shrouds any good points he makes.

Robert Dyer said...

12:10: I'm not sure the options for Beltway access were as limited as that, and we wouldn't necessarily have been challenging any regulations.

Having said that, I wouldn't hesitate to challenge that rule in court. It was not implemented to protect the environment. It was a clever maneuver by anti-highway forces, who knew that - like railroads - highway facilities usually follow stream valleys. I wouldn't hesitate to crush that at the Supreme Court, or any other means necessary.

Robert Dyer said...

2:18: Ask the folks stuck in the left turn lane on Jones Bridge about "negative." They will totally back up what I wrote, and then some.

Robert Dyer said...

12:10: Not to mention that any highway is going to cross a stream at some point. Brilliantly evil ruse.

As far as low-income housing - just check the crime reports for Clarksburg, King Farm and the area around public housing in Damascus. Coming soon to a Westbard near you. Remember when Clarksburg residents only found out they had an MPDU functioning as a group home for the criminally insane when one of the residents murdered somebody? Nice.

Just heard that a bunch of cars were broken into in Damascus across from the low-income housing a couple nights ago. That's why people work and save money, so they can live in a low-crime area.

The County Council believes that the solution to inequality is to make every neighborhood less safe and lower quality, while pocketing a personal check from developers for doing so. We'll find out what people think about that in November 2018.

orkinman said...

I still think a Vegas style (covered) overpass would be quicker and cheaper.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwik9439nPDQAhUKMSYKHWXpD4gQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftheworldisurban.com%2F2011%2F05%2Flearning-anew-from-las-vegas%2F&psig=AFQjCNFqvnon92jrWTz1NBtSxR4A-5_TVA&ust=1481686015000385

Anonymous said...

And four hours after @ 2:18 posted his comment, Dyer confirms what @ 2:18 said.

Anonymous said...

Yes inability to take constructive criticism is not a sign of a good leader.

Anonymous said...

8:09AM then boy oh boy are we in for a world of trouble the next few years...