Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

County revs up as BRAC deadline draws closer

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This month is critical for the Bethesda community’s adjustment during one of the nation’s most prominent military base mergers.

Within three weeks, the county must assemble its response to the Navy’s environmental impact statement on how Bethesda will be affected as the National Naval Medical Center absorbs staff from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure federal decision states that the merger must be finished by 2011 — a breakneck pace for construction and planning that allows for a 45-day window for the public to comment on the Navy’s 548-page EIS document. Comments are due by Jan. 28.

The report said one intersection will suffer directly from the project. Rockville Pike and North Drive will exceed the county traffic limit because of the merger, the report said.

Other intersections near the campus — West Cedar Lane at Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road, and Jones Bridge Road at Rockville Pike and Connecticut Avenue — would have exceeded county limits by 2011 even without the merger, the report said.

Visit Gazette.Net⁄links to read the full report.

Committees, boards, organizations and the Navy are holding multiple forums this month as they finalize their official opinions on the Navy’s report. Those comments will be based in part on citizen feedback collected during hearings and meetings.

*Today and Thursday: The Navy holds public hearings on the Draft EIS from 6-8 p.m. both nights at the Pooks Hill Marriott, 5151 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda.

*Thursday: The Tech Council of Maryland hosts ‘‘Selling to the Military,” a morning event with defense contract managers and military representatives, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Pooks Hill Marriott, 5151 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda. Visit https:⁄⁄⁄events to register.

*Thursday: An afternoon hearing by the Montgomery County Planning Board on the report is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission auditorium, 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.

*Tuesday: Montgomery County Council is tentatively scheduled for a morning public briefing with county planning staff on the Draft EIS report, at the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville.

*Tuesday: The county’s BRAC Implementation Committee meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda.

The county’s BRAC Implementation Committee that advises County Executive Isiah Leggett on the Navy Med expansion met Saturday morning to hash out early responses from the committee’s 31 members.

County BRAC Coordinator Phil Alperson said the committee had ‘‘a lot of concerns about the facts that the Navy is using,” mostly regarding the Navy’s 96-page transportation study that includes nearly 300 pages of appendices.

Del. William A. Bronrott (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda said there were ‘‘no huge surprises” in the draft EIS but that he was concerned about issues such as the expanded base’s ‘‘carbon footprint.”

Alperson said other concerns are demolition and construction on the base and its potential air quality effects, and lodging for visitors or patients during extended stays.