The Washington Times - September 28, 2011, 02:41PM

The battle over the Mark Center continues.

Four members of Virginia’s congressional delegation have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressing concern with the Department of Defense’s ability to prevent a traffic nightmare surrounding the site in Alexandria in light of the department’s “aggressive” occupancy schedule, which will transfer almost 5,000 employees to the site by the end of the year.

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“We are concerned that the Department’s occupation plan is going forward before the appropriate transportation improvements and mitigation measures are in place. In particular, we were disappointed to learn that the DoD has decided to reduce the number of shuttle routes from Metro to the Mark Center from five to four, in clear contravention of the Department’s July 2010 Final [transportation management plan],” wrote Reps. James P. Moran Jr. and Gerald E. Connolly and U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb.

The Department has committed about $20 million in transportation improvements in the vicinity, and the Virginia Department of Transportation is planning to spend $80 million on a reversible ramp from the High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Interstate 395 to Seminary Road, but the 6,400 workers will all be moved in before those improvements can be finished.

The Democratic congressmen asked that the Department provide a list of changes — and any justification for such changes — that have been made to the transportation management plan and consider mandating measures such as alternative work schedules and telecommuting, and publish any increases in traffic volume at 30-day intervals.

The location of the site, which was selected as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission, has come under heavy fire because of its lack of direct access to a Metro station. The occupancy plan calls for the department to utilize 3,800 parking spaces at the complex, but multiple studies have predicted a traffic nightmare on local roadways, intersections, and on I-395 as a result.