Fairfax County Officials Will Not Sue Over BRAC Report
McDonnell has written to the Secretary of Defense asking for a delay
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday afternoon they would not proceed with legal action pertaining to a federal report about the Mark Center in Alexandria that was released last week.
In a statement delivered by Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, the board concluded that they could not file for an injunction to delay the move of 6,400 Department of Defense employees to the Mark Center.
The move is part of the federal government's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. The Mark Center is located at the intersection of I-395 and Seminary Road, and local officials and residents alike have expressed concerns about the potential increase in traffic around the Mark Center when 6,400 employees start work there later this year.
“Fairfax County and others have been concerned about increased traffic and the implementation of a transportation management plan related to the opening of the new the Department of Defense facility at the Mark Center in Alexandria,” McKay said in the statement. “Those concerns were heightened and validated earlier this month when the Inspector General of the Department of Defense published a report that was critical of the environmental assessment completed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2008.
“Fairfax County has reviewed the matter, and while we remain concerned about the significant traffic impact expected from that new facility, we have determined that federal law does not give the County an opportunity to challenge that environmental assessment at this time. We will continue to explore all of our options both legally and legislatively with our federal legislative delegation.”
The inspector general’s report claims that the studies the Army used failed to take into account the current and projected traffic conditions near the Mark Center, and that a Transportation Management Plan (TMP) from 2010 did not include or address a sufficient way to reduce traffic.
But a delay isn’t entirely out of the cards. During a Tuesday interview with WTOP-FM, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates detailing his concerns. According to the interview, McDonnell suggested the Army delay moving any employees until after the state developed an adequate solution to the transportation problems.
The state is already planning both short- and long-term improvements to mitigate traffic congestion around the Mark Center. These short-term improvements include ramp-widening and redoing the stripes in traffic lanes. Eventually, the state intends to build a ramp from the northbound HOV lane of I-395 to directly to Seminary Road.
Construction on these improvements will not begin until after this year and the scheduled September 15 move-in date of the DoD employees.