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New working group, same issues with Defense base closure in '11

Northern Virginia officials are starting their own working group to tackle the bevy of funding and traffic concerns connected with the upcoming Defense Department base closure and realignment.

Problem is, the so-called Northern Virginia BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Working Group sounds very similar to a group that has been formed -- one started by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) in 2005 and which handed down a series of overarching recommendations several months later (PDF).

Funding issues and traffic concerns over the planned realignment of Defense jobs along the Interstate 95 corridor in Northern Virginia have lingered for years, and officials are still unsure where more than $400 million in needed ramps, widened roads and soundwalls will come from. But Alexandria officials have been particularly worried about the loss of thousands of jobs to Fairfax County areas because of the move.

The old working group included county Board of Supervisors chairmen, members of the Virginia House and Senate, Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille (D) and business leaders.

The new group, so far, includes Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D), Sen. David W. Marsden (D-Fairfax), at least three delegates and representatives from the Army and the Virginia Department of Transportation. Organizers said the new group is designed more to answer questions from the public who say the half dozen or so government ad hoc committees tasked with BRAC planning don't allow enough another citizen comment.

"This group is not intended to conflict with work that has been done by groups which have already organized," said Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), the self-proclaimed organizer of the new Northern Virginia working group. "Instead, it is intended as a forum for residents to meet, have presentations, discussions and brainstorm on ideas regardless of their physical address."

The new group's first meeting is set to for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Burke Branch Library in Alexandria. (It won't conflict with another planned forum on Tysons Corner and Silver Line development in Northern Virginia slated for Thursday morning at the Ritz-Carlton -- the Bisnow Media-sponsored forum with Greg Riegle and Mark Viani of McGuireWoods.).

Meanwhile, federal officials are wrestling with a technical error that found its way into a $300 million earmark for transportation fixes related to the Defense base closure and move for Maryland and Virginia, with Fairfax officials asking their contract lobbyist to press legislators harder on Capitol Hill.

By Derek Kravitz  |  July 27, 2010; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors , House of Delegates , State Senate , Transportation  
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6000 (six thousand) Pentagon employees will be moving from their present location to BRAC 133, the blot on the landscape rising up at Mark Center Drive and freely visible on the City of Alexandria's website. This project was approved in 2004 with no public input, and zero public announcement and there has been little if any public input up until construction was already started. NOTHING regarding the transportation issues in the area (George Mason Drive to Seminary to Beauregard and environs)has been accomplished, while a neighborhood is being destroyed, affordable housing allowed to deteriorate, and traffic already a serious problem has become a nightmare. Any working group that is designed for public input on these matters is probably too little and far too late, but is welcome nonetheless. Congratulations to those involved, particularly the Delegate (you can edit out self-proclaimed for more accuracy and less patronizing) who is bringing people together. Thanks.

Posted by: jody43jody | July 28, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

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