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Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 01/20/2011

Va. congressmen tell Gates how to fix BRAC at Mark Center

By Christy Goodman

Virginia's top Democrats -- U.S. Reps. James P. Moran Jr. and Gerald E. Connolly and Sens. James Webb and Mark Warner -- sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlining road and transit improvements the U.S. Army should consider in Alexandria.

The letter, dated Jan. 19, follows the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011 requirement that the secretary of the Army create a transportation plan for the Base Relocation and Closure, or BRAC, movement to the Mark Center at I-395 and Seminary Road within 90 days.

"Though we have serious doubts that the full implementation of BRAC #133 [Mark Center] will lead to any result other than failing levels of service, the Army can mitigate this by implementing the following recommendations," the letter read.

The recommendations include waiving defense department rules and paying the $20 million for short- and mid-term road improvements at the site; subsidizing local transit and emergency services; and not moving into the new building until transportation improvements are finished.

"We believe that the complete implementation of BRAC #133 will cause a tremendous burden upon not only northern Virginia residents, but also upon the nearly 200,000 commuters that use I-395 every day," the letter read.

All of the items listed in the letter are not new to the U.S. Army and are being reviewed as part of the plan, said Jim Turkel, director of the Belvoir Integration Office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at an Alexandria BRAC advisory group meeting Wednesday night. He said the Army will fulfill all requirements of the law.

Kerry Donley, Alexandria's vice mayor, said he was happy to see a letter from the delegation. "These are the very issues we've been talking about" at the monthly advisory meetings, he said.

Another report from the Defense Department's Inspector General's Office reviewing the environmental and transportation measures taken for the Alexandria site is due from in February.

Virginia's federal delegation also requested state transportation funds be prioritized for the Seminary Road project.

By Christy Goodman  | January 20, 2011; 1:50 PM ET
Categories:  Alexandria, Christy Goodman, Gerald E. Connolly, James P. Moran Jr., James Webb, Mark Warner, Transportation  
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Interesting that our Congressional representatives would suggest that Defense Department should take much needed funds from our national security infrastructure (the troops) to pay for local largesse.

Especially since it was these very same Congressmen who politicked so long and hard to move DoD into the building.

So now it is Defense Department responsibility to subsidize road improvements, public transit and emergency services?

Perhaps our soldiers could also build a few schools, open a couple of public parks, stage a few opera performances, and build a library or two in honor of the Congressmen as well?

Posted by: Vic1 | January 20, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

BRAC was Rumsfeld's plan.

Make him pay for it.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 20, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I've posted before about BRAC 133. The Corps of Engineers knew about the potential traffic impacts before the first shovel of earth was dug for the project at Mark Center. They suspected that they wouldn't be able to get permission to take all, or part, of the neighboring tract, which contains the botanical preserve. They decided to go ahead with the project, hoping to get permission once the project was near completion, to take the preserve by eminent domain. If you look at the site using Google maps, you can see how the parking structure, that sits next to southbound I-395, was designed for a fly-over ramp coming from northbound I-395. That ramp would have required a huge chunk of the preserve for its construction.

Posted by: Physical_Security_Spec | January 20, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

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