BRAC project under investigation

BRAC project under investigation

The Defense Departments Office of the Inspector General will investigate the decision to build two high-rises in Alexandrias West End after completing a questionable traffic impact study, according to Rep. Jim Morans (D-8) office.

The two Washington Headquarters Services buildings are expected to bring 6,400 workers to the city and clog commutes with an additional 3,800 vehicles daily once construction completes in September of next year.     

This is a big deal, Moran said Wednesday in a phone interview. The inspector general needs to come to a conclusion on why a quick superficial analysis was done instead of a complete comprehensive analysis.

The move is mandated under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005.

Theres no way a competent study was done if the Defense Department concluded that moving the WHS from Arlington would have no significant impact from a transportation perspective at Mark Center in Alexandria, Moran said. He wants the WHS opening delayed.

The ideal outcome is a delay of several years, and that move would only occur if and when adequate transportation infrastructure was in place so that it doesnt create a one- to two-hour back log on I-395, Moran said.

Multiple environmental impact studies have surfaced since the Defense Departments decision to move its administrative headquarters to Alexandria, including one from the Virginia Department of Transportation that counters the Armys findings.

This is not an investigation into any wrongdoing and the assessment will not impact the plans for the September 2011 deadline regarding the Mark Center, said Wendy L. Snyder, U.S. Defense press officer. 

Snyder said the inquiry is a result of pending legislation and in response to a personal request from Congressman Moran.

Moran inserted language into the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, expected to pass the Senate this month, that would mandate an inquiry of the events that led to the structures being built with no Metro station or other mass transit options in site. It would also cap the amount of parking spaces allowed until a traffic management plan is in place. Though the bill has yet to be passed, the investigation will conclude by February of next year, said Emily Blout, Morans press secretary.

The Defense Departments Inspector Generals Office will be one of the administrative arms moving into the new buildings, creating a conflict of interest, Moran said. So the office has contracted with McLean-based Acelsior, Inc. to investigate the matter, he said.

The City of Alexandria wants the Defense Department to pay for transportation infrastructure made necessary by WHS, and Moran said that would be the likely outcome.

In addition to the 2008 Army assessment, the inquiry will vet the Armys current transportation management plan to determine it provides adequate commuting alternatives for employees, Blout said.