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Posted at 06:57 PM ET, 05/31/2011

Va. lawmakers say Army plan for Mark Center is bad, request delay

The Army’s plan to move 6,400 federal workers to the Mark Center in Alexandria this fall is “partially false” and does not follow federal transportation rules to keep intersections operating at current levels.

That is what Virginia members of Congress said in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday. The letter from Democratic Reps. James P. Moran Jr. and Gerald E. Connolly and Sens. Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb also repeated their request to delay the move to the office building at Interstate 395 and Seminary Road for one year to avoid gridlock.

“The Department [must] consider all options to avoid the severe disruptions to traffic that will affect the nearly 200,000 commuters including Army personnel who travel on I-395 daily,” the letter said.

The lawmakers stated that the Army’s plan, a requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act, did not take into account state and federal transportation studies showing that traffic on I-395 and Seminary Road will slow to a crawl. They also say that the Army’s traffic data is flawed because a small area around the Mark Center site was studied instead of an area with the state- required two-mile radius.

The lawmakers requested a new traffic analysis for the area, which was suggested in the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s report.

The defense reauthorization bill included several key provisions related to the Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, process. One of those provisions gave Gates the ability to delay several BRAC relocations for up to one year.

Also Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee released a draft of the defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2012. The measure includes language requested by Moran — a senior panel member — prohibiting the Pentagon from having more than 1,000 parking spaces at the Mark Center. Similar language was included in the 2012 defense authorization bill that passed the House last week.

Ben Pershing contributed to this post.

By  |  06:57 PM ET, 05/31/2011

 
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