Today, Congressmen Jim Moran, Gerry Connolly and Senators Jim Webb and Mark R. Warner applauded House passage of language both to cap the number of parking spaces at the Mark Center and require that the Army implement the IG’s most recent recommendations. The parking cap is set at roughly 2,000 spaces and the IG recommendations require the Army to complete a new traffic study, with accurate data, and revise and update their transportation management plan to preserve existing levels of service. Both provisions were included in the FY’12 Omnibus Appropriations Bill set for passage in the Senate this afternoon.
“The parking cap is a long fought victory for Northern Virginia commuters, employees at the Mark Center and nearby residents. We cannot stop the Defense Department from fully occupying the building, but we now have assurance they will do so in a way that will mitigate the projected gridlock on I-395,” said Rep. Moran. “This success would not have been possible without the efforts of Congressmen Hal Rogers, Norm Dicks, John Culberson and Sanford Bishop.”
“It’ll be two-to-four years before the I-395 ramp project is completed, and this parking cap should compel the Army to more aggressively work to promote telework, staggered schedules and shuttles to help alleviate the congestion that’s already obvious to anyone who lives or travels in this region,” Sen. Warner said. “Two IG reports now have raised concerns about the quality of the traffic data the Army relied on, so I am pleased we also were able to incorporate language into the conference report requiring the Army to produce more credible traffic data before this cap is lifted.”
“We worked diligently to establish this parking cap in order to limit BRAC’s impact on Northern Virginia’s already strained transportation infrastructure and to allow time for necessary improvements to the roadways servicing the Mark Center” said Senator Webb. “I continue to appreciate the leadership of Congressman Moran on this issue and have every confidence we will ultimately resolve the region’s BRAC-related transportation needs properly.”
“This legislation was truly a team effort. Congressman Moran, our senators, and I were singularly focused on making the federal government shoulder its responsibility in relieving the transportation challenges created by BRAC. The legislation will ensure the Pentagon takes the necessary steps to rectify its flawed traffic analysis at the Mark Center,” Rep. Connolly said. “The parking cap will provide meaningful relief while the Army works to implement recommendations from the recent Inspector General’s report, including revising its traffic management plan and improving coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation.”
The parking cap provision, will limit the number of usable parking spaces to roughly 2,000 unless the Department of Defense can demonstrate for 90 consecutive days that congestion hasn’t reached failing levels of service. If traffic doesn’t materialize, the DOD could partially lift the cap if they and VDOT agree on the number of additional spots that can be used without causing gridlock.
The Inspector General’s recommendations would require the Army to conduct a new traffic study utilizing accurate, reliable and sufficient data. Further, the IG would require the Army to revise and update their transportation management plan to identify the required infrastructure improvements with associated costs and programming to maintain existing levels of service.
Owing to the persistent efforts of Northern Virginia lawmakers, the Defense Department Inspector General released two separate reports denouncing the Mark Center’s environmental assessment and transportation plan. Additionally, the Virginia Department of Transportation has dedicated $80 million for construction for a direct access ramp from the I-395 HOV ramp to Seminary Road. The Defense Department has dedicated $20 million to the short- and mid-term improvements that will be completed in December 2013.
Selected in 2008, the Mark Center facility will accommodate the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) recommendation #133 endorsed by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Approximately 4,000 Defense Department employees have already moved into the building with an additional 500 expected to be relocated by the end of the month. When fully occupied next September, the Mark Center will host 6,400 Defense Department employees.