The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will create a task force to help manage the growth that would come with the addition of more than 3,000 jobs to Quantico Marine Base, as called for in the Pentagon's base realignment and closure plan.
The task force, which will study the effects of the influx of jobs, will report its findings to the Defense Department's Office of Economic Adjustment, Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries) said.
Known as the OEA, the office is currently recommending that all affected communities create task forces, which it has dubbed "growth management committees." The office will review the findings to determine what kind of assistance it might be able to provide.
The OEA's Cyrena Eitler gave a presentation to board members at a meeting last week.
Caddigan, who has worked closely with the Marine Corps base and the town of Quantico through the years, said the county should welcome the concern from the federal government. The biggest issue for the area surrounding Quantico, like everywhere else in the county, is "transportation, transportation, transportation," she said. "We need some help with Route 1."
Route 1 is the main artery for local stops through the eastern part of the county, home to the military base that straddles the border with Stafford County.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is under construction in the area, and organizers estimate that it could draw at least 300,000 visitors annually. The first phase is scheduled to open next November. At the same time, the town of Quantico is revitalizing its downtown in an effort to increase foot traffic to shops and cater to the additional employees expected at the base.
Currently, vehicles inch along Route 1 during rush hour, and county officials fear that 3,000 more jobs would worsen the traffic.
Prince William voters will go to the polls next November to decide on a $75 million bond referendum to widen part of Route 1 to six lanes.
In June, Caddigan and other county officials met with Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) to request that he push for $50 million in additional federal funding to help ease traffic on Route 1 in the Quantico area.
Caddigan said she is hoping the OEA's involvement will boost the county's chances of getting federal funds for road projects.
But transportation is not the OEA's only concern, according to a county report. The growth management plan includes school and housing construction; government services, such as police and fire personnel; and economic development, such as jobs for spouses of employees who relocate to the area, the report says.
Sean T. Connaughton (R), chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, said the county will try to work with the OEA and officials in Stafford County to handle the influx of people.
Connaughton said that although growth has its drawbacks, the county could have been one of those communities that lost jobs in the realignment. The base closings report transfers those 3,000 employees into Quantico from Fort Belvoir and Andrews Air Force Base. Although Congress has accepted the Pentagon's plan, the Defense Department has until September 2007 to begin to close and realign bases.
"There are going to be challenges with this, but we are very lucky compared to what's going on around the country," Connaughton said.