Moran: BRAC move would snarl NoVa traffic


The under-construction Mark Center in Alexandria, Va., next to I-395 at dawn Aug. 4/from U.S. Army's Flickr page

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.


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  1. Cong. Moran is spot on! It was ill-advised to locate 6,400 employees and construct a multi-story office building adjacent to I-395. One of the main reasons for consolidation of military functions is ‘force protection’ and this location does not provide for the secure environment that our military and DoD civilian workforce deserve. Additionally, something needs to be done by DoD, Alexandria, and Arlington/Fairfax Counties to provide mass transit alternatives. This movement of personnel to the Mark Center has all the elements of a making a bad decision even worse. What was DoD thinking?

  2. Daniel from Virginia on

    Unfortunately, the honorable senator Moran believes that Alexandria doesn’t need the extra money this would bring to the area that would create additional tax receipts to the area. This only provides for clear example of our politicians not thinking as opposed to what DoD was thinking.

  3. Paul;

    The BRAC has nothing to do with “force protection”. BRAC stands for Base Relocation And Closure. In the early 1980’s, Congress authorized three BRAC committees for be formed over the course of 20 years. The United States had too many bases around the world, inlcuding the United States, that were established during WWII, Korea, and the Cold War. Since the Cold War was pretty much over, and new rapid transporation systems were in place, we did not need all the bases. Hence, the BRAC. The third and final
    BRAC was held in 2002/03.

    Daniel, the relocation to Alexandria will generate very little tax receipts since almost all the assigned members live outside the area, their money will be spent outside the area yet Alexandria will be required to provide emergency services without suffice funding to expand.

    As for the traffic problems, hey, I live in New Orleans, I have enough to worry about with oil and hurricanes.

  4. Immediate savings in the SECDEF’s efforts to trim the overhead will be lost on the day the Mark Center is populated. Productivity and morale will be immediately effected by the commute realities. Those who are marketable will leave, those in high competivive careers or less marketable will stay. It will have the effect of a major reorganization which can have impacts up to 5 years. One mitigating tactic offered early was the increased use of telecommuting. There has to be a surge in this opportunity and if not implemented and refined in the most immediate future it will fail miserably by trying to do too much in too short a time. Organizations (managers and workers) can handle only so much stress and change in such a short period and this move will produce considerable changes in the work and home life.

  5. Cheri Raimondo on

    I live on N. Beauregard, a stone’s throw from the Mark Center. I speak for those who live in this area when I say this move will only make what is already intolerable downright impossible. Work has begun to widen Beauregard to accomodate the projected increase in traffic. I teach in Arlington County, just 4 miles from my workplace. According to Mapquest, it should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to travel. In reality, this is rarely less than a 40 minute trip from home to work. I am not that well read on this issue, so I ask those who know, must this relocation be made to an already over-congested inside-the-beltway Northern Virginia?

  6. Paul, Cong. Moran is quite right, but the new BRAC building at Mark Center (renamed Ft.Belvoir North, a painful reminder of where it should have been built) is largely complete and will be manned by Sept 2011, despite his effort to block DoD from occupancy until the massive transportation problems have been solved. a laughable requirement. BRAC was intended to consolidate military bases on existing bases, not add to them by renaming new, DoD structures in civilian residential neighborhoods as fictitious parts of a base. As for “force protection,” personnel being moved to Mark Center have operated for years in leased, relatively anonymous commercial office buildings (mostly in Arlington County) which were served by Metro subways. Now they will be in twin towers very much identified as a Defense facility with controlled access, secure surroundings, remote vehicle inspection area, etc. And 40% of them will be required to take shuttle buses to/from a variety of Metro stations.
    Daniel, Alexandria gains exactly nothing. In fact, it loses $4-5 million annually in real estate taxes because DoD-owned property is exempt. While the City should have done something to prevent the building coming here (by stating preference for the alternate site, which has Metro access and is not in a residential area) it is residents of the area, like me, who have to suffer the traffic consequences of the City’s neglect.

  7. Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and just say, “It’s all just a dream.” Before this plan was approved the DoD asked everyone and their grandma for input. I was there!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of this deal. I thought it was ill-advised from the start. I found it laughable that the Army Corp of engineers was in charge of the original study which found that their would be “no tangible” impact on the area… I mean, come on! THat’s 1/4 of the Pentagon that’s moving to the Mark Center, THE MARK CENTER! A business area where the owner said back when when was developing it said, “it will be used for low rise, low density projects.”

    To cry fould now is just grand standing, the DoD doesn’t fart without 60 senators and congressmen smelling it to make sure it will smell to their liking… To come in now and say those things sound earily like a line from Casablanca, ‘I am shocked, shocked I say to find gambling going on in here.’

    Here are your winnings, sir Moran. Now have a nice day.

  8. Neighbor of Mark Center BRAC on

    The existing neighbors in the Mark Center BRAC vicinity have fought a losing battle to try to stop the horrible development. While the Army is to blame, as is Duke Realty who sold the land to the Army, the great culprit is the City of Alexandria. City Council members gave the go-ahead to this development without doing any homework, it seems. There will be no tax income from the development, only worse and worse traffic congestion since neither the City, nor Duke Realty, nor the Army did any transportation studies. VDOT has already given the Beauregard/Seminary intersection an “F”, and there is no indication that current plans will improve that. In fact, it appears that traffic will become substantially worse. There is no redeeming value in this BRAC relocation at all.

  9. If the goal is to truly take the profit out of it, then the law makers should take away the possession limit. Compare it to cherry tomatoes. Every year I grow so many tomatoes that I give pounds of them to my neighbors and friends. So same model, eventually their would be so much cannabis that it would be free. We still would need to get a card or permit, but eventually it would be free.Well before the reality of the MMA I had friends who grew there own and yes they gave it away.

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