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House approves $300M for Virginia and Maryland for BRAC

About $300 million seems to be on its way to military bases in Maryland and Virginia as part of the complex and costly movement of Defense Department jobs around the Washington region.

The House passed the Defense Appropriations Bill on Wednesday, which includes $300 million to be split between the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and Fort Belvoir in Northern Virginia.

"Without this money we would have had complete chaos when nearly 20,000 more people tried to get to Fort Belvoir as a result of BRAC relocations," said U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.).

The Senate is expected to approve the bill in the coming days before it is forwarded to President Obama.

The reorganization is the result of the Pentagon's 2005 base realignment and closure plan (BRAC), an effort to streamline defense resources across the country and upgrade them to new security standards. Local officials say the projects will be completed by September 2011.

Still unclear is how the $300 million will be divided between Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir.

Full release on the Defense bill money is below:

Moran, Van Hollen Secure $300 Million for BRAC Traffic Fix
Defense Bill Includes Transportation Upgrades Connecting New Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir Hospitals to Surrounding Communities

Washington, DC - Congressmen Jim Moran and Chris Van Hollen welcomed the House's passage of the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill which includes $300 million for BRAC-related transportation mitigation efforts at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Both installations and their surrounding communities stand to be heavily impacted by the 2005 BRAC-mandated consolidation, set to conclude in September 2011. At Fort Belvoir, the Army Corps of Engineers estimates that without this infrastructure investment, commuters who use I-95 or Rt. 1 would have experienced a three to four hour delay each rush hour.

"Without this money we would have had complete chaos when nearly 20,000 more people tried to get to Fort Belvoir as a result of BRAC relocations," said Moran. "In Northern Virginia, the principle purpose of this money is to widen U.S. Route 1 so that our military personnel and their families can access the new, state of the art Fort Belvoir Community Hospital currently under construction. While this funding will help, the Defense Department must do more to address the looming traffic nightmare that will still occur in Northern Virginia due to BRAC."

"I am especially pleased that today's DoD Appropriations bill includes an unprecedented fund of $300 million set aside for the purpose of mitigating BRAC-related transportation and community impacts at the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir," said Van Hollen. "Congress is committed to building world class facilities for our wounded warriors in the national capital region, and these funds are an integral part of that effort. I want to thank Congressman Moran, Chairman Murtha, and Chairman Obey, as well as Senator Mikulski and Senator Cardin, for their partnership on this initiative. I look forward to working with our Senate colleagues, the Department of Defense, and other stakeholders to make these funds available for their intended purpose at the soonest possible date."

The Senate is poised to pass the Defense bill in the coming days. It will then be sent to the President for his signature.

By Derek Kravitz  |  December 17, 2009; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , James P. Moran Jr.  
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