Legislative routes have yet to slow BRAC traffic concerns

Legislative routes have yet to slow BRAC traffic concerns

Between 50 and 100 Defense Department workers began moving into their new offices in Mark Center Monday, the first of about 6,400 expected to occupy the Pentagon annex by next year, while bids by lawmakers to slow the influx remain stalled.

Congestion on the West End near I-395 and Seminary Road is expected to surge beyond capacity and the Virginia Department of Transportation will not break ground a two-way high-occupancy vehicle ramp to relieve traffic flow until 2012. 

Though language included in the Defense Authorization bill calls for capping parking spaces at the new Washington Headquarters Services at 1,000, that legislation continues to sit on the Senates side of the Hill untouched, as it has for months. 

Another part of the bill would authorize Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to delay the move, part of the federally mandated Base Realignment and Closure Act, for up to a year. 

The legislative vehicles passed by the House are the best solutions to address the coming traffic situation, said Anne Hughes, spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Moran (D-8). 

Meanwhile, DoD workers have begun packing their desks and moving from metro-accessible buildings in Arlington, to Alexandria, where the closest metro is more than 3 miles away. A free shuttle from King Street Metro Station began Monday and was successful, said Rich Baier, director of the citys transportation department, though the number of commuters pale in comparison to the eventual figures.

About 2,300 employees will move to Mark Center by September 15. By the end of the year 2,500 more will join them. The final 1,600 federal workers will move in by December 31, 2012, according to the DoD.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) announced the creation of a task force, headed by the Virginia Department of Transportation, to monitor and improve traffic congestion at Mark Center Monday.

The opening of this new facility will have wide-reaching impacts that will be felt across the Northern Virginia region and throughout the Commonwealth, so we must do everything possible to mitigate the effects on traffic and the quality of life of residents and those who travel I-395,” McDonnell said in a statement.