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NIH Approves Controversial Plan for Bethesda Campus

The National Institutes of Health’s 310-acre campus (above) may get more than a dozen new buildings and 3,000 new employees over the next 20 years, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it, reports Bethesda Now. The Record of Decision issued Friday revealed NIH chose a contentious proposal that has neighbors and county planning officials worried it will increase traffic in an already congested area between Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road. NIH’s response: What’s a few more cars? They figure 3,000 additional staff would mean 12% more NIH vehicles, which would only impact the community by 3% when you consider NIH contributes to 25% of the traffic. NIH would also like to remind everyone that this will be a 20-year evolution, and eventually the Purple Line and Bus Rapid Transit might be ready, offsetting that measly 3%. Adding to the issue, NIH insists on maintaining its 2-to-1 employee to parking space ratio even though federal standards recommend a 3-to-1 ratio to encourage carpooling and transit use.