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Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) at Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) is in the process of making most of the installation’s sidewalks compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The project, aimed at making sidewalks more accessible for those using wheelchairs or other mobility assistance technology, is being completed in stages via contractors.

According to the construction manager for the current project Greg Lucas, the projects - numbering three so far - are a result of an accessibility study that was done two years ago.

Billy Jaeger, design manager for the current contract, clarified that the NSA Bethesda Accessibility Plan was finished in April 2011. “Part I of the [resulting] construction was completed in August of 2011,” he added.

To be ADA compliant, the sidewalks must meet certain width requirements, and include access ramps and crosswalks. When the project began, explained Lucas, the first focus was the area with the highest traffic and need. “The first part covered the sidewalks between the hospital and the wounded warrior barracks,” he said. That included Buildings 60, 61 and 62.

Jaeger said the urgency to complete Part I was in part because of the merger between Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center. The scope of that project was determined by looking at the finances and time available to complete the work, he said.

Part II, said Lucas, covers much more and is slated to cost $1.9 million. The cost includes most of the remainder of the installation. Both projects also include flashing signage and signals designed to alerts drivers to when crosswalks are being used.

According to Lucas, Part II is about 50 percent completed. Once finished, future work will be done as needed through a third and possibly fourth contract, said Jaeger. According to Lucas, however, the next project is expected to cover the remainder of recommendations that came from the accessibility study.

Lucas, who serves in the Navy Reserve as a Seabee, said he’s particularly proud to be associated with this project because of the impact it will have. “This is going to make it easier for our wounded warriors to get around. I’m glad we’re giving attention to making these sidewalks compliant.”

He noted that most installations wouldn’t go to these lengths because “they don’t have the same need for it that we do here,” referring to NSAB’s mission of supporting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the tenants units that in turn support wounded warriors and their families.

Jaeger added that Part III, which will be awarded as a MILCON (military contract), is in the design stage by Washington Navy Yard. It is currently expected to be a much larger project than Part II, covering the remainder of NSAB, including paths alongside Stoney Creek, access to the bowling alley and better access to Building 50.

Despite the narrow focus of this series of projects, other needs are always under consideration, said Lucas. “We’re constantly looking at what needs to be done or retrofitted,” he emphasized. “Constantly.”