The House passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act Thursday that includes several provisions aimed at solving some of the region’s traffic woes.
The $690 billion Defense Authorization includes the option to delay seven Base Realignment and Closure moves, the ability to fund roadwork outside of military installations and caps parking at the Mark Center site in Alexandria.
The House bill gives Defense Secretary Robert Gates the ability to delay seven BRAC moves, including the Mark Center, by up to one year in order to get necessary road and support infrastructure in place.
Current law requires transportation planners to prove traffic volumes will double outside of a military base or installation before federal funding can be used making it difficult for many projects in the D.C. metropolitan area to qualify.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D) successfully included language that changes that law to make those funds more readily available and retroactive for requirements applying to the current BRAC movements.
“Without this language DoD cannot make improvements outside the base without a determination that traffic would double due to base expansion,” Connolly said in a statement. “That’s tough to do. How do you double gridlock?”
Parking will be held to 1,000 spaces at the Mark Center until further transportation improvements are addressed at the site, located at Interstate 395 and Seminary Road, thanks to an amendment by Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D).
“The BRAC moves in Northern Virginia have caused a six-year headache,” Moran said in a statement. “Transportation issues at Ft. Belvoir and the Mark Center serve as glaring examples of the flaws in the current BRAC process. The reforms included in the NDAA will allow the DoD to learn from the costly mistakes of BRAC 2005.”
The Senate must first pass its version of the Defense Authorization and then hash out the differences between its version and the House version. The Senate is expected to discuss its version of the bill next month.