One of the most frustrating parts of living in the Washington area is trying to drive into the nation’s capital during rush hour.
And if the Defense Department follows through with its current relocation plans, commuting might get worse.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said in an Aug. 6 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the department’s “ill-advised” plans to move 6,409 employees to the Mark Center complex in Alexandria, Va., will cause catastrophic traffic jams on roads — including Interstate –395, the main corridor Virginians take to commute into Washington.
The Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure committee originally recommended moving those employees — who now work at leased offices around the capital area — further south to Fort Belvoir in Virginia. But Defense officials decided to look elsewhere when an Army study found it would cause three to four hours of congestion around Belvoir, and tie up traffic along the I-95 corridor by up to two more hours.
But Moran said the Army’s latest transportation plan found that the move would result in “failing levels of service” on local roads, intersections and I-395. Those roads would be gridlocked even if enough commuters carpooled or took public transportation to cut single-occupancy vehicles by 40 percent, he said.
“The DoD relocation to the Mark Center will undoubtedly delay tens of thousands of commuters to Washington in the morning and a comparable number returning home on I-395 in the evening,” Moran said. “The toll on the federal work force in terms of lost productivity, not to mention quality of life issues such as expanded work day, day care pickups, etc., is difficult to quantify but hard to overstate.” Moran asked Gates to “personally ensure” the relocation does not cause roads to fail.
Defense is supposed to finish its BRAC relocations by September 2011.
Moran is also worried that the Army hasn’t struck a deal with Alexandria to provide fire and emergency medical services to the Mark Center. He said that Alexandria’s emergency response resources are already stretched thin, and adding thousands more Defense workers would increase the burden.