Lawmakers cite flawed Army study of transportation impacts
Jun 01 2011
Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Jim Moran, Gerry Connolly and Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner wrote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressing concern with the recently submitted Army Transportation Plan for the implementation of BRAC Recommendation #133 at Fort Belvoir-Mark Center, Virginia. Citing inaccuracies throughout the plan, the lawmakers call on Secretary Gates to delay the Mark Center move for one year.
In their letter, the lawmakers highlight significant flaws in the Army’s Transportation Plan, required by the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, including:
- The Army’s failure to take into account findings from studies completed by both the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). The studies reported severe congestion on I-395, I-395 on- and off- ramps, and surrounding roadways when 6,400 defense employees are shifted to Mark Center.
- The Army’s refusal to examine the traffic effects of the relocation beyond .3 miles of the Mark Center. This small radius was a key reason the Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) faulted the Army’s 2008 Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI) in its recent report; and
- The plan does not satisfy the requirement of Section 2704 of the FY ’11 National Defense Authorization Act, which mandated a Transportation Plan that will preserve existing levels of service at six identified intersections. The Army’s report accepts the most recent VDOT analysis which shows that without the proposed short- and mid-term improvements, five of the six intersections evaluated will experience failing levels of service.
“The Department [must] consider all options to avoid the severe disruptions to traffic that will affect the nearly 200,000 commuters including Army personnel who travel on I-395 daily,” the lawmakers wrote. “In particular, we ask that the Department begin preparations to utilize the BRAC deadline extension as modified by H.R. 1540, the House-passed Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.”
The DOD IG released an April report “Assessment of BRAC 133 Final Environmental Assessment of July 2008 and Transportation Management Plan (TMP) of July 2010, stating the Army mishandled the selection of the Mark Center and recommended the Army complete a new traffic impact analysis. In their letter, the lawmakers note that “the Army’s inability to produce a transportation plan that satisfies the law further highlights the need for the Department to accept the recommendations of the Inspector General and undertake its own comprehensive Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA)…To date, the Army has not accepted the IG’s recommendations. This is unacceptable.”