A draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for expansion of the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) to accommodate relocation to Bethesda of Walter Reed Army Medical Center
(WRAMC) is scheduled for release in mid-December. DEIS release starts a 45-day period during which public comments on the adequacy of impact identification and mitigation analysis are accepted for subsequent response in a final EIS expected in February 2008.
NNMC expansion is a consequence of the 1990 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law, which requires that an independent commission
periodically review military facility needs and consolidation opportunities. The current round of BRAC recommendations was approved by the President in September 2005 and, in the absence of congressional action, became law in November 2005.
As a result of BRAC 2005, NNMC will be renamed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. About $800 million of medical
facility and parking lot construction and renovation is scheduled to begin in mid-2008. NNMC expansion must be complete before WRAMC permanently closes in September 2011. Currently pending legislation accelerates
this schedule to September 2010. In any event, between 2,500 and 4,000 workers are expected to be added to the existing NNMC and tenant staff of 7,500. In addition, NNMC outpatient visits are expected to double to about 4,000 per weekday.
Given existing peak-hour congestion on the Beltway and local roads that surround NIH, the governor’s BRAC subcabinet and Montgomery County’s BRAC implementation committee have identified increased traffic congestion as a major impact. The DEIS is expected to do the same.
Since BRAC law itself provides no impact-mitigation
funds, transportation improvement projects such as dedicated Beltway and Metro access from the base, local intersection and road upgrades, satellite parking lots, shuttles, expanded transit and incentives, flextime, telework and other measures will likely take years to materialize.
Providing comments on the upcoming DEIS is an opportunity for NIH staff to put on their thinking caps and make creative suggestions about what additional information, analysis or mitigation could better identify, understand or manage the BRAC environmental impacts that will soon affect their daily commutes.
Comments can be submitted to the Navy via email at NNMCEIS@med.navy.mil or by fax at (301) 295-5020. Comments can also be mailed to BRAC Program Manager, Navy Medicine National Capital Area, 8901 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20889-5600.—