Maryland officials in charge of easing congestion around Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda are promising not to make an already bad rush hour worse.

Road crews starting work Monday will wait until after 10 p.m. to shut down two lanes of Rockville Pike while they add turning lanes at the intersection with Cedar Lane and will keep any daytime lane closures to a minimum.

Project engineer Matt Bezanson said he has three pages of instructions on what times he can and can't close a lane to do the work.

"That's why it takes a year for us to get through all of this," he said.

Residents and commuters agree something needs to be done.

About 2,500 additional employees and 500,000 more visitors and patients now visit the Bethesda hospital after the Pentagon consolidated its facilities to save money. The Navy is conducting environmental studies before building two more parking garages at the medical center, adding room for about 900 more vehicles.

Fetene Asmamaw, a gas station employee in Bethesda, said customers stop in his store frequently to ask about alternate routes around the traffic at the Walter Reed.

"They just complain," Asmamaw said. "It's crowded -- especially after 4 p.m."

- Liz Essley