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Vol. LXIV, No. 22
October 26, 2012

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: MLP-8 nightmare—during the evening rush, traffic backs up in the garage and extends up the entire length of its ramps. Takes me 25-30 minutes to exit the garage. A solid line of traffic lines up all along Lincoln Dr. until it reaches Old Georgetown Rd. I have seen and have verified with NIH Police numerous road rage incidents and accidents between autos and near misses with people on foot. Why not make Lincoln all lanes one way out during rush hour? Or will ORS/ORF wait until a serious incident occurs?

Response from the Office of Research Services and Office of Research Facilities: The Division of Facilities Planning within the Office of Research Facilities is presently engaged with a planning and transportation engineering consultant on an intersection and crosswalk study for the Bethesda campus in order to limit potential risks at locations where pedestrian and vehicles come in contact. Part of this study includes the area on Lincoln and Convent Dr. near MLP-6 and MLP-8.

Safety is clearly one of the many concerns that are considered when ORF and ORS would make such a routing design change. We will ask the traffic consultant to assess the feasibility of making Lincoln a one-way exit during rush hour, knowing many factors would need to be considered in addition to safety. These include: exit points from the garages; existing traffic patterns; shuttle routing; emergency response from police and fire departments; pedestrian movements and crossings; dynamic lane indicators; employee populations in the area; the future opening of Porter II; and, coordination with the State Highway Administration for the signal timing.

The present situation at Lincoln is exacerbated by the temporary closure of Convent Dr. between Lincoln and South Dr. This closure is the result of required utility access associated with the construction of the expansion of the Porter Neuroscience Research Center. As you may have witnessed, the temporary closure prohibits right turns from Lincoln onto Convent and therefore forces all westbound garage traffic to exit to Old Georgetown Rd. via Lincoln. Once access to Convent Dr. is restored in December 2012, congestion should decrease.

We encourage drivers and pedestrians to be patient and exercise caution when traveling through these highly congested areas.

Feedback: The ramp that leads from just in front of the Gateway Center to the pedestrian entrance leading to Natcher is already falling apart, although it was just recently completed. Several of the stone blocks are cracked and dislodged and several of the fittings around the lights are loose. The appearance is pretty shabby. Will this be repaired and will NIH have to pay for it or will the contractor be held responsible for what appears to be shoddy work?

Response from ORF: Thank you for bringing this problem to our attention. You’re absolutely right that the stone masonry on the ramp is cracked and broken, mostly around the railing posts. In addition, the railings themselves are now misaligned and there are problems with the light fixtures. We have investigated in some detail and found that this damage originated from the weather conditions and snow removal activities during and after the major snowstorms two winters ago. The broken lights resulted from being struck by snow removal equipment and from the freeze/thaw cycle, where water penetrated the stonework, froze and expanded. This caused significant damage to the stonework and subsequently also caused the railings to misalign. Some of the damage may come from other causes as well, but the original construction does not appear to be the only, or even most important, factor. ORF has initiated a repair project. The timing of the project will depend on several factors, including weather, so we anticipate repairs to be completed this fall or next spring.

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