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McDonnell asks DoD to delay BRAC transfer

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Gov. Bob McDonnell has asked the Defense Department to delay the relocation of thousands of military workers to the Mark Center in Alexandria.

Citing recent reports issued by the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) that foretell of gridlock around the site, Mr. McDonnell in a May 6 letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked for more time to complete transportation improvements.

The letter, released Wednesday, asks the Defense Department to delay the part of the Army's Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan mandating that 6,400 DOD employees be moved to the Mark Center by September.

Located at the intersection of I-395 and Seminary Road, the area is likely to become heavily congested as a result of the relocation.

VDOT has recommended a package of short-term transportation improvements and an HOV/transit ramp from Interstate 395 to Seminary Road. About $80 million for the ramp was included in Mr. McDonnell's recently approved state transportation funding package.

"However, since these improvements are several years away from full implementation, the Commonwealth recommends that the DoD delay full employee relocations to the Mark Center until the short-term and HOV/Transit ramp projects are operational," Mr. McDonnell, a Republican, said in the letter.

"If this recommendation is adopted, we further suggest employee relocations should be coordinated with the Commonwealth, phased in and continually monitored to determine the maximum number of employees the transportation systems can accommodate," he said.

Mr. McDonnell suggested last month that he would ask for the delay, after local officials indicated they were unlikely to sue the federal government to push back the transfer.

Mr. McDonnell also requested funding through the defense Access Road Program to help pay for the I-395/Seminary Road HOV/Transit Ramp.

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