Think your commute is bad? Imagine if it got worse.
It’s a concern in northern Virginia, the location of the Defense Department’s new administration complex, the Mark Center. Part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure plan, an additional 6,400 commuters are expected to move to the facility in Alexandria, Va.
A measure to try to mitigate traffic was not part of the defense authorization bill. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) had proposed to limit parking to 1,000 spots at the Mark Center, but that measure was not included in the defense authorization bill.
With nine months until the expected move, Moran told the DorobekINSIDER that the provision to limit parking was supported in the House version of the defense authorization bill and Moran “had all our ducks in the row” in the Senate.
But he said there were objections from Sen. John McCain’s staff, calling it an earmark.
Instead, the legislation includes compromise language for the military to report on how it will deal with the traffic problem. DoD must submit the plan to Congress before September.
But Moran said any efforts to mitigate traffic before the move will be “impossible.” The only solution is to renew the leases at the office buildings where these thousands of employees now work, Moran said.
Currently, most of the 6,400 DoD employees to make the move to Mark work in centers in northern Virginia that are accessible by the metro, Moran said. The Mark Center is not close to a metro. He said at a minimum commuters should be subsidized for using the public bus.
But the best plan for DoD is to put in an adequate transportation plan before proceeding with the move. Otherwise, “this is going to be chaos,” Moran said.
Moran said the added traffic could add one to two hours to everyone’s commute.
He added, “Effectively, you will only have one passable lane. People should imagine it will be as though there was a car crash that took away two lanes of traffic on 395 every single morning. That’s what we’re facing. That’s why I’ve gotten so focused on this and emotionally involved. We’ve got to stop this.”
But chances are slim of any halt to the Mark move before September. Congress and the DoD have created a situation “where the best I can do is say, I told you so,” Moran said.