Franchot dubious about long-promised Bethesda Metro South Entrance

By Christopher Goins

Bethesda Metro escalators

Bethesda Metro escalators (Photo by ehpien on flickr)

A visibly skeptical and hesitant Comptroller Peter Franchot ultimately sided with the governor and treasurer on the Board of Public Works and approved $2.3 million of funding that went to the “fabled long-awaited” South Entrance to the Bethesda Metro station, as he put it. The entrance would connect the end of the proposed Purple Line to the Red Line.

The money towards the long put-off project was a part of $21 million approved for additional spending on seven active Maryland Transit Administration contracts in a Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday. It extends each contract by 18 months, including three contracts that collectively sent millions towards the Montgomery County Metro project.

Franchot wanted to make sure the contracts were “managed properly” and that the state is not “simply spending dollars because there are some hungry consultants out there.”

He noted that the proposed South Entrance to the Bethesda Metro station was discussed for years when he chaired a transportation subcommittee in the Maryland House of Delegates, prior to taking office as comptroller in 2007.

“Let me know if the south entrance ever gets built,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot

“I’ve been hearing and reading about studies on this south entrance for I want to say years,” he said. “It might be a decade,” adding that WMATA released a detailed analysis of the proposed entrance back in 2005.

State money to pay for engineering, county funding construction

Henry Kay, MTA executive director of transit development and delivery, said that the BPW money will pay for the MTA will do the engineering for the entrance, and the county will pay for the construction of the entrance. On its website, the Action Committee for Transit, a Montgomery County transit advocacy group, states construction is slated to begin in 2016.

Transportation Secretary James Smith assured Franchot that funding would not be spent on redundant and wasteful studies.

The extension of contracts will help with projects the contractors have underway and “new project tasks throughout the final design of the contract for the MTA’s Office of Facilities Engineering, ADA and Sustainability Division,” according to the agency’s remarks in the agenda.

“Let me know if the south entrance ever gets built,” Franchot said moments before the board moved to approve the contracts.

Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, LLP; Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP; and Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., all of Baltimore, will be working on projects related to the Bethesda Metro south entrance.