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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 .

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 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. 

Harold McClendon April 27, 2011 at 01:37 PM
This entire process has made me very angry at the Defense Department, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Defense Department has repeatedly shown that they will not respond to verbal request from the public or any elected official. They closed a road at Fort Belvoir to public access and refused to entertain any option suggested to keep the road open while maintaining the necessary security. The replacement road will not be finished for several years. I try to avoid letting my anger at the DoD officials affect my respect and admiration of the troops, but it is getting harder by the day.
Laurie Sisson April 27, 2011 at 02:12 PM
So, bottom line: you put 6,400 more cars in the area and close down part of the major highway to the nation's capitol to fix something that should have been done first. That is going to work, how?
Mary Doyle April 27, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Once again, this illustrates the inadequacy of elected officials up and down the chain pertaining to the BRAC decision to move to MARC center. The development of the building itself should be under scrutiny since a bid came in at the last minute, was not detailed to Congress beforehand and was knowingly chosen above two other sites that have access to Metro. Sharon Bulova has been a ghost during the entire process -- all Fairfax County and Alexandria officials care about is development, development, development -- regardless of safety, air quality or any other concerns. This building should be re-purposed to condos, there is no traffic "solution" that will work. The "solutions" already enacted are causing nothing but delays -- and that's before the building opens. The ramp to Seminary will include a traffic light, eliminating the current ability to travel over 395 without stopping. How is that going to impact traffic or haven't they thought about it -- doubtful!!! Why doesn't someone investigate how this occurred in the first place -- The Post has been pitiful in its reporting of the entire process....
Jennifer Porter April 27, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Fairfax County has been asleep at the switch on this issue - not that they did not express concern about the Mark Center BRAC 133 move, they did and repeatedly. The objections were well considered and cogent. The County, however, did not take the only action that would have had any effect on the DOD. The DOD has been intent on complying only with the law requiring it to complete BRAC moves by Sept. 15, 2011. Other laws are less worthy of DOD's respect. Legal action to require the Army to comply with NEPA would have been an appropriate way to protect the interests of those of us in Fairfax County (and elsewhere) who have to live with the mess that the BRAC 133 move has created. The county had an opportunity when the EA was issued, and another opportunity when the TMP came out - it does not surprise me that the county now finds it too late to do anything. The county has demonstrated repeatedly that any time would have been too late to stand up to the DOD and Alexandria on this issue.

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