Montgomery chief assails BRAC plan

December 06, 2007

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett has complained that the state's plan for accommodating military base expansion in Maryland does not address expected growth at the National Naval Medical Hospital in Bethesda.

In a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley, Leggett said the draft plan released Nov. 19 did not propose funding for highway or transit improvements that county officials want to head off what Leggett called "an impending traffic nightmare" when the hospital expands.

The government's plan to move Walter Reed Army Medical Center from the District of Columbia to the Bethesda naval hospital site will add 2,500 workers to the campus. Officials also expect that visits to the facility will double, to a million a year.

Among other requests, county officials want the state to build a dedicated ramp from the Capital Beltway to serve the center.

O'Malley's Cabinet is reviewing the base-growth plan and will submit a final version with budget and legislative recommendations to the governor by Dec. 17.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who is leading the base-expansion planning effort, said the legislature's recent approval of $450 million in new taxes for transportation should enable the state to address the Bethesda traffic.

Brown said the governor will propose new transportation projects in his fiscal 2009 budget but declined to say what proposals, if any, might specifically deal with the medical center.

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