A report outlining the environmental impact of a major expansion project proposed for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was released Sept. 14 and the public is getting a chance to take a look at it.
The U.S. Navy released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes the impact of enhancing medical facilities on campus, and expanding the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Construction would occur between 2013 and 2018.
As part of the medical facilities development, five buildings would be demolished, with a new building constructed in their footprint. Temporary medical facilities on campus would insure that patient services would not be interrupted, according to the EIS. Construction would include a five-story medical facilities building and a 500-space, underground parking garage.
Accessibility would also be improved for wounded warriors, according to the EIS.
The university expansion would see construction of a new education and research building, and a 400-space, above ground parking garage. It would also modernize space in three university buildings.
For the community, the EIS is about more than a couple of new buildings, said Phil Alperson, Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) coordinator for Montgomery County.
"Traffic is definitely worse since BRAC," Alperson said.
Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda merged September 2011 into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as part of the 2005 federal Base Realignment and Closure Act, which called for closing and consolidating hundreds of military facilities nationwide.
The merger brought 2,500 additional employees, for a total of about 10,500, to the campus and was expected to double the number of annual visits to 1 million.
Public hearings on the EIS are scheduled at the Pooks Hill Marriott in Bethesda, 5151 Pooks Hill Road, on Oct. 4 from 1-5 p.m. and Oct. 11 from 5-9 p.m.
A final decision on the construction plans will be made by the Secretary of the Navy or their designee, after releasing a final environmental impact statement, according to the EIS.
That decision is expected in April 2013, depending on a variety of factors, including the number of comments received, said Joe Macri, a spokesman for Naval Support Activity Bethesda.
Comments on the draft EIS must be submitted or postmarked by Oct. 29 to firstname.lastname@example.org or Joseph Macri NSA Bethesda Public Affairs Office 890-1 Wisconsin Avenue Bethesda, MD 20889.