Commuters could experience backups on Md. 355 due to increased security measures at Naval Support Activity Bethesda and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Credit: Photo by Dan Schere

Restrictions on the number of gates open at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bethesda and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center could mean backups on Md. 355.

On Saturday, NSA Bethesda implemented security measures in response to ongoing unrest in the Middle East.

On Friday, Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani was killed by a U.S. airstrike, leading to concerns over the possibility of war in the region. Iran has since declared that it would not abide by the terms of a 2015 agreement that requires it to roll back its nuclear program. Additionally, Iraq’s parliament has voted to expel American troops.

The new security measures include closing gate 4, which is near the Navy Lodge according to a press release.

On Monday morning, gate 3 near the Bethesda Navy Exchange was closed, but has since been opened to inbound traffic from 5 to 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and outbound traffic from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Additionally, gate 2, across from the Medical Center metro station, is open to traffic from 9:01 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, although pedestrian access will remain available at all times. On Monday morning, traffic in and out of this gate had been restricted to peak travel periods, with only outbound traffic permitted in the afternoon.

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Gate 2 will be closed on weekends.

Gate 5, near the Uniformed Services University, will be open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

NSA Bethesda spokesman Jeremy Brooks said in an interview that the changes would be in effect “until further notice.”

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“Changes in security measures happen constantly. Sometimes they’re visible, sometimes not. We’re constantly assessing what’s needed for security based on the current environment,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com