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The State of NoVa
Posted at 10:21 PM ET, 12/01/2011

Army on BRAC: “Traffic? We’ve got this Plan, see...”

So when the Army decided it was going to build a gigantic, casino-like building for 6,400 employees in Alexandria, five miles from the nearest Metro station, it was decided they needed to come up with a Transportation Plan. So they did. And then they built the casino. But that Plan...


The new BRAC building overlooking I-395 in Alexandria. If there’s an emergency, the Army says the security force can handle things until the actual ambulance or fire trucks arrive. (Tom Jackman - The Washington Post)
The Post’s Ashley Halsey reported Thursday that the Plan for the Base Realignment and Closure building, or BRAC, analyzed by a Springfield traffic consultant for the Pentagon’s inspector general, was really not so good. In fact, the consultant wrote, “the data, analysis and information contained in the Transportation Plan is suspect and debatable.” This led the inspector general to state, “the output of the simulation is only as good as the validity of the input.”

I’ve seen that put a little less politely.

Examples, you say? How about this: “Traffic counts were conducted around national holidays and while schools were not in session.”

Seriously? “Hey, this 395 traffic isn’t so bad after all.”

“Uh boss, it’s Thanksgiving morning.”

“Yeah, but we’re flying through here.”

The Army’s response to this slight criticism? “Non-concur,” they wrote. “The process and procedures used to develop the Army’s Transportation Plan...were consistent with industry standards.” They just don’t say which industry.

The hilarity continues. If by hilarity we mean traffic and parking gridlock and pedestrian and bicycling non-planning.

The consultant, Strategy and Management Services of Springfield, found that The Plan “fails to adequately address expected congestion on I-395, local arterial roadways and roadways within the site,” which “could result in gridlock.” The Plan “fails to provide a sufficient amount of parking spaces” and used traffic data from 2008.

The Army’s response? “Non-concur.” As with many of its responses, it noted that Alexandria “had approved the proposed zoning and development,” though elsewhere in the analysis, Alexandria “reported litle or no involvement in the preparation or review of” The Plan.

Other key points of the analysis: Alexandria worked with the Army to devise a shuttle bus system from Metro stations, but “The Transportation Plan does not provide an assessment of cost or programming of funds for the shuttle-bus program beyond FY 2012.” That’s soon.

A well-connected, continuous sidewalk system for pedestrian safety and access is not there, and “there is no safe and direct bicycle route serving the site,” which will be a problem for the predicted two percent of BRAC employees predicted to bike to work.

And then there’s this: Heavily congested roads will make it much more difficult for emergency response, such as fire trucks, ambulances or police cars, to make it to the Mark Center in a hurry, the IG’s report states, “impacting life safety.” Nothing big, just lives.

The Army responded (after “non-concur”) that Alexandria has been developing emergency incident planning and that the “Pentagon Force Protection Agency personnel located on site are trained to handle emergencies at the BRAC 133 site until other Emergency Personnel arrive at the scene.”

When a fire breaks out on the fifth floor of the BRAC building, or someone has a heart attack, I’m betting the fine men and women of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency are still going to need some urgent help. And the way it looks, that help will be stuck in traffic.

By  |  10:21 PM ET, 12/01/2011

Categories:  Alexandria, Traffic | Tags:  BRAC, Mark Center, Virginia

 
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