Democratic congressmen from Virginia sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticizing the department’s move of nearly 5,000 federal workers to the Mark Center site by December, before any significant transportation infrastructure will be built.
Reps. James P. Moran Jr. and Gerald E. Connolly and Sens. James Webb and Mark Warner wrote in a letter dated July 14 that the plan “contravenes the department’s assurances to work with the Virginia delegation and local governments to ensure that the occupation of the Mark Center does not cause failing levels of service to surrounding roadways and intersections, including Interstate 395.”
The congressmen request that Panetta reconsider the occupancy and transportation plans for the Mark Center.
The move is part of the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process.
Federal workers will start occupying the new office building that towers over Seminary Road and Interstate 395 in Alexandria on Aug. 9, according to the occupancy plan. By mid-September, 2,300 personnel will be in the building. An additional 2,600 should be in by December. The final 1,400 come after the new year, according to the plan.
The plan contradicts reports that only 2,200 people would be moved into the facility by the end of the year.
The Defense Department has paid $20 million for short- and mid-term transportation improvements around the site, such as extended turning lanes and widened ramps from the interstate, but those projects are not expected to be completed for up to two years. The state has put up $80 million for a ramp from the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes of I-395 to Seminary Road, but that ramp won’t be finished for at least five years.
The congressmen said they “are particularly distressed that the DoD intends to use up to 3,800 parking spaces.” Moran included a 1,000-space parking cap into pending legislation.
“We therefore ask that you immediately reconsider and revise the recently released occupation schedule and transportation plan for the Mark Center complex by incorporating a self-imposed parking restriction in order to mitigate failing levels of service to any local roadway or intersection,” the congressmen wrote.