Today, Representatives Jim Moran, Gerry Connolly, and Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner wrote Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressing their concern with the recently released occupancy plan for the implementation of BRAC Recommendation #133. The plan moves nearly 5,000 employees to the Mark Center facility by December 2011 – before vital transportation infrastructure improvements are put in place.
Department of Defense (DOD) officials have laid out the following plan:
- August 9th - Occupation of the Mark Center begins
- September 15th - 2,300 personnel will be housed in the building
- September 15th – December 31st - another 2,600 are scheduled to move in
- January 1, 2012 – Relocation of final 1,400 employees begins
“The plan…contravenes the department’s assurances to work with the Virginia delegation and local governments to ensure that the occupation of the Mark Center does not cause failing levels of service to surrounding roadways and intersections, including Interstate 395,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We are particularly distressed that the DOD intends to use up to 3,800 parking spaces at the Mark Center,” the lawmakers continued. “There is no rule, regulation or statute preventing the department from self-imposing a parking limitation to 1,000 until there is sufficient transportation infrastructure. This self-imposed parking limitation would incentivize DOD personnel to rely on the alternate modes of transportation described in the Army’s traffic management plan.”
“Legislation has passed the House of Representatives and is pending before the Senate that would impose a statutory restriction of 1,000 spaces if you fail to act. We therefore ask that you immediately reconsider and revise the recently released occupation schedule and transportation plan for the Mark Center complex by incorporating a self-imposed parking restriction in order to mitigate failing levels of service to any local roadway or intersection.”
The parking restriction legislation would limit to l,000 the number of parking spaces, and in turn new vehicles on the road, until short, mid, and long-term road fixes are complete. Funding from the Federal Government and the Commonwealth has been secured to carry out these projects. The DOD directed $20 million for these improvements, which will not be complete for 18-24 months. VDOT has also agreed to fund $80 million to build a ramp from the HOV lane to Seminary Road, projected to be completed by 2016.
BRAC #133 will relocate 6,400 DOD employees from Metro-accessible office space to the Mark Center facility off Seminary Road and I-395. With no direct access to a metro station, the occupancy plan calls for the DOD to fully utilize the 3,800 parking spaces available at the Mark Center complex, causing unacceptable traffic on local roadways, intersections and for the 200,000 commuters on I-395.