WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today gathered at the edge of MD-355 and steps away from the Medical Center Metro Station with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Patrick O’Neil, Chairman of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, to announce $300 million in funding for BRAC-related transportation projects. This unprecedented federal investment will provide for improvements to the surrounding roads, including MD-355, and upgrades to the Metro station.
The fiscal year 2011 Continuing Resolution, signed into law last week, included $300 million for BRAC-related transportation mitigation efforts for the future Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda (currently the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center) and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. Both installations and their surrounding communities stand to be heavily impacted by the 2005 BRAC-mandated consolidation, which is set to conclude in September 2011.Â Â
“I fought in the Senate to BRAC-proof Maryland’s bases, now I am working to BRAC-ready our transportation systems. Our troops fight overseas to protect our freedom, they shouldn’t have to fight traffic to get the care they’ve earned when they get back,” saidÂ Senator Mikulski, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, who fought for this funding in the Continuing Resolution. “The Walter Reed National Military Center at Bethesda will be the frontline in delivering care to our wounded warriors. I am proud to partner with my Team Maryland colleagues to make BRAC a success and secure the federal funding needed to meet the increased demands on our communities.”Â Â
“This announcement is welcome news for the thousands of wounded warriors and their families who will use the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as well as Montgomery County’s beleaguered commuters,” Senator Cardin said. “As a delegation, we have been united in our efforts to ensure federal support for the expanded medical facility and the tens of thousands of new military and civilian jobs being brought to our state through the BRAC process.Â I am pleased that we will be able to provide much-needed transportation upgrades to meet the needs of those traveling to or near the new military medical facility. “Â
“This unprecedented investment will help ensure that the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is a world-class center of excellence, and that the demands placed on the surrounding area as a result of this relocation are adequately addressed. It is a win for our wounded warriors and a win for our community,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
“I cannot overstate how important this long overdue federal funding is to our troops and their families, to the Bethesda community, and to strengthening Maryland’s economy,” said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, chair of the Governor’s Subcabinet on Base Realignment and Closure.Â “The traffic improvement projects that can now move forward will help our wounded servicemen and women access the care they need while at same time creating jobs and easing congestion in Montgomery County. Â I would like to thank Senator Mikulski, Senator Cardin, Congressman Van Hollen, and the entire Maryland Congressional Delegation for their hard work and dedication in securing these critical funds.”
“We owe a great debt to our Congressional delegation for their very hard work and leadership in securing these urgently needed BRAC funds,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. Â ”Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Congressman Chris Van Hollen took the lead and worked hand-in-hand to move this funding through both houses of Congress.Â I also want to commend Bethesda’s good friends, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, the County’s BRAC Implementation Committee, Congressman Bill Young of Florida, the late Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, whose selfless devotion to our men and women in uniform is well known, particularly at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals.Â It may take awhile, but the projects that will go forward with this additional funding will truly make a difference in alleviating traffic gridlock in Bethesda and making sure that patients, doctors and families visiting our wounded warriors can receive the service they deserve.”Â Â
“The business community extends our sincere gratitude to our Congressional Delegation for helping to secure the funding needed to improve the infrastructure surrounding this most important medical center,” said Patrick L. O’Neil, Chairman of The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.Â ”For over four years, this community, comprised of business, civic, and government representatives, has worked tirelessly in planning for the opening day, just 5 months away.Â Because of this close relationship, our BRAC improvements will be shovel-ready as soon as the funding is received. This could not be done without the help of Congressman Van Hollen, Senator Mikulski and Senator Cardin.”Â Â
Maryland’s Congressional delegation has fought to prepare Maryland communities and military bases for the 2005 BRAC process. The BRAC Commission’s recommendations were a huge success and will bring about 2,000 jobs to Bethesda Naval by 2020, as well as new sources of state revenue.