Five leaders of Maryland jurisdictions joined together Friday to urge Congress to pay for infrastructure improvements to accomodate the relocation of military bases under the Base Realignment and Closure plan.
“Just recently the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies produced a congressionally mandated study that found the Department of Defense has placed the entire burden of the BRAC 2005 related transportation costs on to state and local governments,” executives from Prince George’s, Howard, Anne Arundel, Harford and Laurel wrote in a letter to members of the Maryland congressional delegation.
The base changes will add 5,600 to Aberdeen Proving Ground, 2,500 to the Naval Medical Center and 11,000 to Fort Meade in Maryland and 36,000 people to Fort Belvoir in Virginia. And while the influx may boost the tax base--if workers relocate or spend money on their way to work--it will also worsen congestion on the roads , especially if large-scale improvements aren’t made.
“Department of Defense should accept greater financial responsibility – financial and programmatic - for impacts on transportation facilities serving military bases in much the same way that the private developers are assessed impact fees for the cost they impose,” they wrote, summarizing the report.
“The anticipated growth resulting from the recommendations from Base Closure and Realignment Commission indeed is a positive impact; however, I strongly believe that our local jurisdictions should not have to shoulder the responsibility alone to provide these transportation improvements,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said in a statement.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said: “Over the next 10 years Fort Meade growth will bring thousands of new jobs to Howard County and the region. All of this is happening while much of the country is working through job loss and extreme economic challenges,” said Ulman. “But with this growth comes responsibility: Federal, State and local governments must continue to work together to address the challenges and costs related to all regional growth, not just Fort Meade’s.”