The Metro Board Finance and Administration Committee today endorsed a new entrance at the Medical Center station that it says will support increased ridership from employees at the expanded Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Metro is one of the entities involved in a $68 million, federally-funded pedestrian tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue that will help Metro riders who now must cross busy Rockville Pike to get to the Medical Center gate on the east side of the road.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation will build the tunnel, with construction expected to start in 2014 and last two years. Prior to Walter Reed’s move to the Navy National Medical Center in 2011, there were 3,000 pedestrian crossings at the crosswalk per day. That number is expected to increase to 7,000 per day, according to Montgomery County BRAC coordinator Phil Alperson.

Four new escalators and two new elevators will provide access to the tunnel from the street level on the west side of Rockville Pike. The tunnel will be just beneath the street. On the east side of the street, three high-speed elevators will connect the pedestrian tunnel to the station platform 120 feet below ground.

Metro general manager and CEO Richard Sarles said the two new escalators will also be key as an alternative to enter the station when Metro replaces the existing escalators in the next few years.

“The new entrance and pedestrian tunnel will make it easier and safer for pedestrians traveling between the station and the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,” Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles said in a statement. “The project has the added benefit of providing redundancy to the existing station entrance escalators, which will be replaced in the coming years. I want to express our gratitude to Senators Mikulski and Cardin, Representative Van Hollen, Montgomery County Executive Legget, and Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner for their support of this improvement.”


Image via Montgomery County Department of Transportation