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MD 355 Crossing

Construction

At Naval Support Activity Bethesda’s South Gate (Gate 2) on Maryland 355 (Rockville Pike), pedestrian traffic is heavy. Thousands of people cross the road every week transiting to the base from the Medical Center Metro Station and back. The heavy foot traffic is one of the elements that makes the intersection one of the busiest in the area.

With patient, employee and visitor vehicular traffic for the base, Metro Station traffic and normally passthrough traffic on MD 355, the road stays tremendously busy.

To help relieve congestion, and as one of the last remaining projects from the Base Realignment And Closure plan, a pedestrian tunnel is being built to allow foot traffic to cross directly under MD 355 without the worry of vehicle traffic or signals. Another tunnel, accessible through the mezzanine level of the metro and an elevator on the east side of MD 355 will allow commuters to avoid having to cross MD 355 as well.

The project is scheduled for completion sometime in 2020. 

When the project is done, there will be elevator access on both sides of MD 355, and a new passageway that will have been expertly positioned in a tight space near existing utilities and infrastructure. What exists now was built with no anticipation of future underground additions.

During the initial stages of construction, what will be obvious to most observers is the relocation of the fence near the South Gate. This move had to take place for multiple reasons. The first is to allow for staging of construction equipment. The second is because there will eventually be a tunnel entrance that could not otherwise work without this accommodation.

Excavation will then begin on the elevator shaft that will drop to the tunnel that leads directly to the Metro station at Medical Center. Excavation will begin in late spring for the upper tunnel connecting the east and west sides of MD 355 at Gate 1 (South Wood Road). Small, controlled detonations mall, controlled detonations will be used as part of the excavation work, and the digging will continue 24/7, 365 until the final fistful of dirt is removed. Excavation work is anticipated to be complete in late 2018.

The elevator installation is expected to follow that and be completed shortly after — also in late 2018.

Concrete work to create both tunnels should begin around the same time, and reach completion shortly before officially opening in mid-2020.

During the work, those who work and live in the area should expect occasional traffic adjustments and reroutes.

Despite the minor inconveniences it may cause, the NSAB Installation Transportation Officer encourages people to continue using their normal commute patterns. 

The benefit is the ability of the base to accurately anticipate manning for security and traffic control requirements.

For more information on the project, updates, and traffic alerts, you can visit the Montgomery County website dedicated to the 3-year project at www.md355crossing.com.