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Transcript: Episode #14

Getting Onto NIH Campus – Driving or Walking?  Give Yourself Time!

Uploaded:  January 12, 2008
Running Time:  5:47

SCHMALFELDT: From the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, this is CLINICAL CENTER RADIO.

Folks who have been around awhile might recall a time when accessing most non-military government facilities was a simple thing to do.  The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the terrorist attacks of 9-11 changed that forever.  Security is tighter now at all government facilities.  But for visitors who understand that it takes a bit of time and patience, getting onto the campus at NIH is not a hassle -- especially since the opening of the new Gateway Center visitor’s complex in August 2008.  In fact, the few extra minutes it takes to get on the campus will result in easier access to the rest of the NIH complex, according to Brad Moss, Communications Officer for the NIH Office of Research Services and Office of Research Facilities.

MOSS: Now, given obviously there are caveats with certain buildings on campus where there are additional security measures in place, overall, we think it actually opens up the campus a bit more in the sense that, let’s say you have a visitor that needed to go to multiple buildings on campus.  They’d have to go through multiple security checks.  If they went to Building 10 they’d go through a security check to go in there, then they’d go to Building 31 and go through a security check there, then let’s say they went to Building 1, they’d go through a third one there – each time they entered a new building.  All of that went down to one security check at the perimeter, and that was one of the premises behind doing that.

SCHMALFELDT: Pedestrians arriving at the Medical Center Metro station need only step off the escalator to find themselves at the front door of the new Gateway Center.  If you’ve ever gone through airport security, this first part will be familiar.  You’ll place your coat, hat, briefcase and anything else you’re carrying onto a conveyor belt for X-ray examination.  You’ll take all the change and keys out of your pockets and step through a metal detector.  Then you’ll be asked to present a valid, government-issued photo ID, after which you’ll be given a visitor’s ID badge.  Depending on how many folks are trying to access the campus at the same time you are, the whole process takes but a few minutes.  When you step through the door on the other side of the Gateway Center, you will find yourself at the stop for the campus shuttle busses. 

If you plan to drive onto the campus, that’s a slightly different story, as Moss explained.

MOSS: You would want to come in through what is called NIH Gateway Drive, which is a new entrance to campus, just south of what people would envision as our old visitor’s entrance to campus called South Drive.  If you’re driving southbound on Rockville Pike, you’re going to go past South Drive – which looks like it’s our main entrance – and go just past the Metro to NIH Gateway Drive.  From there, once you enter, you’re going to have a choice to make – either you’re going to determine that you want to continue onto campus, in which case you will go through a vehicle inspection, or you’re going to choose to park at the multilevel parking garage that we have there that’s outside of the fence.  If you choose to park at that location, you will not go through a vehicle inspection so you do save a little bit of time in that regard. 

SCHMALFELDT: For pedestrians, the Gateway Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Visitors wishing to drive onto the campus may do so at the Gateway Inspection Station Monday through Friday from 5 am until 10 pm.  On weekends, the Gateway Inspection Station is open 6 am to 6 pm.  The multilevel parking structure opens at 6 am, with the last car in by 9 pm, last car out by 11 pm.  After 10 pm on weekdays, 6 pm on weekends, visitors in vehicles can enter the campus through the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Station, just north of the employee entrance on Rockville Pike and South Drive.  The Commercial Vehicle Inspection Station is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Pedestrians may also enter the campus through the West Gateway Center near Old Georgetown Road and South Drive, Monday through Friday from 6 am to 12 pm.  Patients and patient visitors may also access the campus through the entrance at Cedar Lane and West Drive, with valet parking at the Clinical Center entrance.

As always, visitors are welcome at NIH whether you are here on business, are attending a lecture – such as the “Medicine for the Public” series at the NIH Clinical Center or are an outpatient taking part in a clinical trial.  Just remember that it takes a bit of time and patience to get on the campus.  And placed into a post 9-11 perspective, it really isn’t much of a hassle at all.

MOSS: I think with the new Gateway Center complex we’ve opened, I don’t think – given the security procedures that are in place now for most government installations – that this could be any easier.  It doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to have to factor a few extra moments in your time to deal with getting a visitor’s badge, getting a security check, in some cases getting your vehicle checked.  But, I mean, we have this process down.  We’ve been working on it for several years.

SCHMALFELDT:  Visitors to the NIH campus can find more information online at  Click the “Visitor Info” link.  And for more information about the NIH Clinical Center, including news about the medical research going on here every day, log on to  From America’s Clinical Research Hospital, this has been CLINICAL CENTER RADIO.  In Bethesda, Maryland, I’m Bill Schmalfeldt at the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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This page last reviewed on 01/13/09

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