Virginia elected officials have requested that the Department of Defense delay moving 6,400 federal employees to the Mark Center in five months.
The move, which is scheduled for Sept. 15, is part of the Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, process coming to the Mark Center at Interstate 395 and Seminary Road. Residents and elected officials have been working to solve major traffic complications in the area once the additional workers are on the road.
A recent report by the Defense Department’s Inspector General found the U.S. Army at fault for not fully accessing traffic impacts of the facility, getting enough public input or being near a public transit system, among other items.
Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) sent a letter Thursday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates alerting him he can delay the moves to the Mark Center and seven other locations under provisions within the current fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The House Armed Services Committee included the bill provision Thursday. The full House will consider the legislation the week of May 23.
“In light of the now overwhelming evidence identifying fundamental flaws in the Army’s traffic analysis and transportation management plan, I request that the DOD begin preparations to make full use of the one-year extension,” Moran said in a statement.
The U.S. Army just received a letter from Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) to Gates dated May 6, said Jim Turkel, director of the Belvoir Integration Office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In it, McDonnell asks the Defense Department to hold off on the employee relocations until some short- and mid-term traffic improvements are completed. McDonnell also requested the Defense Department pay the state back for the future construction of an $80 million ramp from the HOV lanes of I-395 to Seminary Road.
“The Commonwealth recommends that the DOD delay full employee relocations to the Mark Center until the short term and HOV/Transit ramp projects are operational,” McDonnell said in the letter. “If this recommendation is adopted, we further suggest employee relocations should be coordinated with the Commonwealth, phased in, and continually monitored to determine the maximum number of employees the transportation systems can accommodate.”
Turkel said the U.S. Army is considering its response to the governor. He also said the response to the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s report is pending.