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