NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Crosswalk Construction

Pedestrian Safety Improvements Continue on Campus

Current view of the intersection
Shown as it’s configured currently, the intersection of Memorial Dr. and Center Dr., near the northeast corner of the Clinical Research Center will undergo renovation.

NIH has made significant strides to create a safer Bethesda campus for pedestrians. Progress includes the addition of 20 LED-lit crosswalks under construction or already in operation. Over the next 12 months, new safety improvements are planned at several more intersections.

The next major improvement will include the intersection of Memorial Dr. and Center Dr., near the northeast corner of the Clinical Research Center. The reconfigured intersection will improve vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety.

In addition to intersection improvements, the heavily used walkway in front of Bldg. 31A will be replaced. A new accessible walkway has been designed to reduce the steepness of the walk while maintaining existing healthy trees. A retaining wall will be required to accommodate elevation changes and a new pedestrian-activated LED-lit crosswalk and flashing warning signs will be installed across Center Dr. During approximately 30 days of construction, pedestrians will need to follow a detoured path. 

Even though these improvements will help NIH become a safer campus for all, they don’t replace the need to follow the rules of the road. NIH follows Maryland state and Montgomery County laws as they pertain to pedestrian right-of-way. 

At a crosswalk, in most situations, the pedestrian has the right-of-way and a vehicle should come to a complete stop while a pedestrian is crossing or approaching the roadway. However, responsibility is not all on the driver. Maryland code also states “...a pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb...and walk into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield” safely. Also, no bike or other vehicle may pass another vehicle stopped to let a pedestrian cross the roadway.

Installation of these improvements will begin in November. No road closures are expected. Lane closures are limited to nights and weekends and one lane of traffic will be open at all times. Michael Oppelt, the Office of Research Facilities project officer overseeing installation, can be reached at or (301) 435-7827.

The intersection's future look
A rendering of the intersection's future look.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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