NewsAnnouncements : MD 355 Crossing Work Begins in 2017

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MD 355 Crossing Work Begins in 2017


By Jeremy K. Brooks

NSAB Public Affairs

At Naval Support Activity Bethesda’s South Gate (Gate 2) on Maryland 355 (Wisconsin Ave), 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 355, the road stays tremendously busy.
To improve the situation, and as one of the last remaining projects from the original Base Realignment And Closure plan that created NSAB, a pedestrian tunnel will be built to allow foot traffic to cross directly under 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 expected to start by the end of spring 2017. Currently, the schedule puts its completion at sometime in 2020.
While it may sound easy to build such a relatively short tunnel, simply digging a hole and putting some walls and stairs isn’t going to happen.
When the project is done, there will be elevator access on both sides of 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. The action is currently scheduled for March.
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.
In mid-spring, excavation will 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 355 at Gate 1 (South Wood Road).
There will be small, controlled detonations 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 around, 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, Installation Transportation Officer Ryan Emery encourages people to continue using their normal commute patterns.
“I would tell people to keep using the same gates they usually use,” he said.
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.