Berliner proposes more Metro stops in Bethesda
Councilman wants SHA to study adding new stops between Grosvenor-Strathmore and White Flint
A Montgomery County councilman believes adding additional stations along the Metro Red Line should be considered to ease traffic along Rockville Pike.
Councilman Roger Berliner, in a Monday letter to the State Highway Administration, asked it to investigate the "economic feasibility" of adding one or more Metro stations in the White Flint area, which currently has one Metro station. Berliner said his proposal would include the area from the Grosvenor-Strathmore station to the White Flint station, which he said was "poorly named" because it did not serve White Flint well.
Berliner said he is interested in the idea as a way to manage transportation in White Flint, where county planners are in the process of drafting a sector plan to shape the long-term development in North Bethesda, as well as the Base Realignment and Closure project at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda further south on Rockville Pike. The project would relocate the Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Washington, D.C. to Navy Med.
"To the extent to which we have an existing infrastructure that we could advance that would be of the highest quality, I think that's worth a good look," said Berliner (D-Dist.1) of Potomac in an April 22 interview.
Berliner said his idea was very preliminary and that a cost-benefit analysis was needed. He said it was his understanding was that a new station in the White Flint area could cost $70 million, although that this was only a "ballpark" figure. Compared to the maximum $215 million required to improve four intersections around Navy Med to handle BRAC, Berliner said, $70 million per station would begin to "look more reasonable."
Proposed improvements at the four intersections from the State Highway Administration primarily focus on adding through and turn lanes at Jones Bridge Road and Connecticut Avenue, Jones Bridge Road and Rockville Pike, Rockville Pike and Cedar Lane, and West Cedar Lane and Old Georgetown Road.
Angela Gates, a spokeswoman for the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority that oversees the Red Line, said that no study has been done by WMATA to contemplate new stations at White Flint. She said it was difficult to put a cost figure on new stations, but noted that the new Metro station being contemplated in Alexandria, Va. on the Blue and Yellow lines had a preliminary cost estimate of $140 million to $200 million as an above-ground station. Cost comparisons between stations were difficult, Gates noted.
Gates also said she wasn't sure where Berliner got the $70 million estimate for a new station. Asked if a $140 million to $200 million price tag for each new station would change his mind, Berliner said such figures would "impact his thinking."
"It's really up to local jurisdictions to come up with the money to build a new station," Gates said. "They do the planning studies and analysis."
Dan Hardy, transportation planning chief for the Planning Department, said the department had not considered adding new Metro stations on the Red Line at White Flint.
"It's not something we're working on," Hardy said.
Berliner said he did not have specific locations in mind for new stations in the White Flint area, and he wasn't sure of the exact distances there should be between the stations. But he also said he envisioned a station pattern that resembled some of the Red Line's stops in Washington, D.C., with the stations relatively close together.
Andy Scott, special assistant for economic development to State Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari who has dealt with the BRAC intersection projects, said the idea could benefit the higher-density development of White Flint, but could also cause congestion and capacity issues on the Red Line.
"That's something that would have to be studied," Scott said.