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Report: Army Used Poor Data For BRAC Traffic Assessment

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Critics of the DoD's new Mark Center building say the 6000 workers scheduled to start working there in September could add an extra two hours of traffic for commuters on I-395.
Jonathan Wilson
Critics of the DoD's new Mark Center building say the 6000 workers scheduled to start working there in September could add an extra two hours of traffic for commuters on I-395.

The U.S. military used poor data in a traffic assessment it conducted before relocating thousands of workers in Northern Virginia through its Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), according to a new report [PDF] from the Department of Defense's Inspector General. Virginia lawmakers are furious over the findings.

The traffic surrounding Alexandria’s Mark Center -- the new home to DOD's Washington Headquarters Service located at Interstate-395 and Seminary Road -- is bad now, and the new report says it’s only going to get worse unless Army officials act soon. The Pentagon is shifting more than 6,000 people to the new office complex, but outside experts say the roads surrounding the space can't handle all the new traffic.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) says the Army seems to have misled local and federal leaders in order to get speedy approval of their relocation plan. "It appears that there was, in a sense, cooking the books going on, in terms of when and how these first traffic studies were conducted," says Warner.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the Army created the mess and now it's their duty to come up with a plan to avoid turning some roads in Alexandria into parking lots. "We can avoid chaos if we act now," he says. "We would like for them to come up with some solutions themselves, but we do think there are some practical solutions.” 

Moran is calling on the Pentagon to limit the number of open parking spaces at the Mark Center and consider shuttling in some workers to decrease the expected congestion. The Army is questioning its own inspector general's report, and says it's already providing more than $20 million for road improvements in the area.

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