By Rebecca Sheir
Congress has awarded $300 million to fight road congestion near two major military hospitals in Virginia and Maryland, and lawmakers in Maryland are applauding the long-awaited move.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) says families of troops wait long enough for their loved ones to return home. "We shouldn't ask them to be waiting in traffic to see their loved ones when they've been wounded on the battlefield," says van Hollen.
Van Hollen joined U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) in securing the Base Realignment and Closure funds for Maryland. The money will go toward improving transportation to and from the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, scheduled to open in 2011 on the Bethesda campus of the National Naval Medical Center.
"And for those who are familiar with getting to this area on Wisconsin Avenue," says Cardin, "you know how challenging the transportation can be."
Cardin says the change not only will improve access for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and Metro riders, but will bring 45,000 to 60,000 new jobs to Maryland by the year 2020. He says it could be the first time Congress has designated base realignment money to ease traffic.