Legal action possible against Defense Department for BRAC high-rises at Mark Center

Legal action possible against Defense Department for BRAC high-rises at Mark Center

Alexandrias congressman is talking legal action against the Department of Defense in light of a report questioning the Armys preparation for the Pentagon annexes rising to completion on Alexandrias West End.

About 6,400 defense workers will move into the Washington Headquarters Services buildings in September along with 4,000 additional vehicles and could add about an hour to the commute of I-395 drivers. The neighborhood around the Mark Center will suffer congestion as well, official say.

The Department of Defense Inspector Generals report, released Thursday, claims the Armys planning for the inrush was faulty. The 200-page document just validates what everyone already knew, said Rep. Jim Moran (D-8).

The importance of the Inspector Generals report is that it now confirms what we have been saying, Moran said at a press conference Thursday. The justification their environmental analysis, their transportation analysis that they needed to move to this site was deficient. It has to be redone.

The DoDs original traffic mitigation plan claimed the buildings would have no significant impact on the areas traffic. The watchdog report disagreed and recommended a new study, but Army officials did not oblige when given the draft report in February.

The Army responded to our draft stating that they do not intend to perform any new traffic analyses because recent studies sufficiently support the suggested improvements, the IG report states. However, we found that the recent studies were inadequate and are standing by our recommendation.

The Army has until May 6 to respond to the final report.

Moran wants the Pentagon to postpone the move until sufficient traffic solutions are completed, and taking legal may be the only cards left in the deck, he said. His camp sent a letter to Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, his regional counterparts and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnel.

An injunction would provide the judicial branch the opportunity to evaluate the Armys actions to date at the Mark Center and buy the neighboring communities and commuters across Northern Virginia some relief while more effective mitigation measures are implemented, he stated in the letter.

Mayor Bill Euille has conferred with the city attorney but said he is unsure if getting litigious is worth the money and whether there is firm legal ground for the city to stand on. At the very least, hes hoping for a change in the DoDs mindset. 

What Im hoping is with the IGs findings well find that the Army will be a little more accommodating instead of throwing up their hands and saying Youre being a nuisance, Euille said. Otherwise a lawsuit may be the best option.

Its unclear how much clout the DoD Inspector Generals Office has if the Army still disagrees with the reports findings after the May 6 deadline. In an email, spokesman William Goehring cited a procedural directive stating that the DoD IG must work with DoD components to resolve disagreements about applicable reports. If the discrepancies cannot be negotiated by lower management, the deputy secretary of defense would have final say, he said.