The House Armed Services Committee approved language last week that could delay 6,400 employees from moving into the Defense Department buildings on Alexandria’s West End for up to a year.
The Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990 requires workers to move into the Pentagon annex by September 15, but as the deadline approaches, Congress is considering giving Secretary of Defense Robert Gates the authority to extend it for seven unnamed projects.
“My understanding is that the DoD knows they need the extra time to complete all the BRAC recommendations, particularly Mark Center,” said Rep. Jim Moran (D-8). “Our hope is that the secretary will be supportive of the delay and take proactive steps while the legislative process works its will.”
It’s welcome news for Alexandria, which has been bracing for an influx of workers expected to strain the city’s transportation system. But a one-year delay would not alleviate long-term problems, said Rich Baier, director of Alexandria’s Transportation Department.
“It gives us time to work out the kinks and get a couple of the short-term construction projects done, and public education and outreach,” Baier said. “But a year does not provide time for major construction projects.”
A new ramp from the HOV lane of I-395 is one of those projects, Baier said.