Metro board members on Thursday took another step toward the addition of a new entrance at the Medical Center station, part of a project that would also include a walkway under Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue (MD 355).

This is meant to accommodate the additional riders coming from the west side of Rockville Pike as a result of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) projects in Montgomery County. In particular, Walter Reed Army Medical Center was closed in 2011, and the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center expanded.

This expansion was long expected to dramatically increase the pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area. In particular, the pedestrian crossings over the Rockville Pike between the Metro stop and the medical center were projected to more than double. As Dr. Gridlock noted in 2011, planners had been discussing a tunnel under the Rockville Pike before Walter Reed’s workers, patients and visitors shifted to Bethesda.

Last year, Marjorie Censer reported that Montgomery County received a $40 million grant to improve transportation around the medical center. Another $28.174 million is coming from the Federal Highway Administration, according to Metro.

Board members on Metro’s finance and administration committee voted to allow for an agreement between Metro, Montgomery County, the Maryland State Highway Administration and others as well as a construction agreement (effectively covering Metro’s support for oversight, testing and other parts of the project).

The station’s new entrance, which will be opposite the existing entrance, is expected to open in early 2015.