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Metro considers changing the name of the White Flint station to North Bethesda

Metro said Montgomery leaders want the station to reflect development in the surrounding area.

A sign at the White Flint Metro station in Bethesda. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

At the request of Montgomery County officials, Metro is considering changing the name of the White Flint Metro station to North Bethesda.

With the closure and dismantling of the White Flint Mall, Metro said Montgomery leaders want the Metro station at 5500 Marinelli Rd. — near Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road — to reflect the surrounding area’s development. The mall officially closed in January 2015.

The county has sought to make the car-centric area — home to multiple high-rises, as well as shopping and dining options — more urban, transit-oriented and walkable. County leaders said the “North Bethesda” name is more vibrant and relevant than White Flint, helping with development and regional competitiveness when trying to attract new businesses.

Metro allows local governments to request name changes for stations within their boundaries, and a handful of the transit agency’s 91 stations have seen their names change in recent years. Often stations are renamed after the departure of a landmark, such as a university campus that has closed or relocated.

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Montgomery officials told Metro their request has been screened and supported by residents and local business leaders. In a May 20 letter that Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) sent to Metro requesting the change, Elrich said “much has changed in North Bethesda.” The mall’s buildings were dismantled between 2017 and 2020, he said, adding that “White Flint” is no longer commonly used to identify the area. “A key goal for the community — both residential and business — is identity” and “White Flint is no longer a relevant name or term used,” Elrich wrote.

Last year, he said, the county collaborated with the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of White Flint, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee and other community leaders to come up with a new name. “North Bethesda” was the name selected during a public meeting with the groups earlier this year.

Metro’s Board of Directors will make the final decision after the transit agency reaches out to the public for feedback, as is Metro’s policy. Metro said it is seeking public feedback on the proposed name change through an online survey. Responses will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Sept. 28.

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Jurisdictions requesting name changes are required to pay related costs, which include reprinting transit system maps, changing fixed station and track signs, and reprogramming announcements and electronic messages at stations and onboard trains and buses. Elrich said the state of Maryland is putting $250,000 toward the costs, while the county is contributing $50,000. Property owners near the station have committed to paying the remaining costs, he said.

State Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery) helped to secure money from Maryland, Elrich said. “The entire Montgomery County House and Senate Delegations recognize the economic potential of ‘North Bethesda,’” Korman said in a statement. “Rebranding the Metro station is crucial to achieving that success and we were pleased to fight to obtain that state investment.”

Feedback can also be provided at wmata.com/whiteflintsurvey.

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