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DOD Project Gets More Funding, But Ramp Construction Is Delayed

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The $20 million will go mainly toward needed improvements to the Seminary Road intersection near the new complex. But now the Federal Highway Administration is also forcing a delay in the construction of a ramp that would have connected Mark Center to I-395's HOV lanes.

Virginia had argued the ramp was small enough to make an environmental study unnecessary, but the Highway Administration disagreed.

Stewart Schwartz, with the Coalition for Smarter Growth, says the study is probably a good thing in the long run.

"The last administration for a multibillion-dollar project said, 'No you don't have to look at alternatives.' But here for...a $100 million ramp, they're saying, 'Yes you need to look at alternatives,'" he says.

Abi Lerner, with the City of Alexandria, says he always thought the decision could have gone either way.

"Federal Highway, the experts, decided this needs to be an environmental assessment, therefore we just want to get it going as soon as possible," Lerner says.

Schwartz says the ramp would have helped, but now that it won't be done for at least 18 months, it's up to the Department of Defense to make sure all the other measures to help traffic are up and running this fall.

"If any agency of government can do it, it's the hierarchical military," he says.

Schwartz says if the Defense Department incentivizes four-person carpools for its employees, it could make a big difference.

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