- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fort Belvoir, which is expected to add more than 22,000 jobs in the next five years to traffic-choked Fairfax County, announced preliminary plans yesterday to cluster the vast majority of those workers on a largely undeveloped proving ground near Springfield.

Base officials said a major goal of the site plan is to minimize traffic congestion, which is already high on the Route 1 corridor on which Fort Belvoir sits.

Fort Belvoir spokesman Donald Dees said the site plan calls for locating about 18,000 of the 22,000 jobs at the Engineer Proving Ground near Springfield. That includes the 7,700-member staff of the Bethesda-based National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the new National Museum of the United States Army, which by some estimates could draw more than 1 million visitors a year.

Earlier this year, Fort Belvoir officials said they were exploring several options for locating the workers, including a city-center plan that would cluster the workers and a campus layout that would disperse them.

Local elected officials urged Fort Belvoir to scatter the jobs to try to minimize bottlenecks.

Mr. Dees said the site plan is essentially a hybrid of the campus and city-center models.

The new jobs are coming to Fort Belvoir as part of the Base Closing and Realignment Commission’s recommendations. Fort Belvoir will nearly double its employment base by 2011 and is getting a larger influx of personnel than any other military base in the country affected by the BRAC process.

Many of those jobs are being moved from the D.C. area’s suburbs, including Arlington County’s Crystal City region, which are better served by public transportation. And regional planners have worried that the massive influx of workers to an installation with tight security like Fort Belvoir could make an already tense traffic situation unbearable.

“All of the planning strategies we have examined have been driven in part by concerns over transportation, the environment and infrastructure,” Fort Belvoir commander Col. Brian Lauritzen said.

The site plan is still in preliminary stages and subject to environmental reviews and public hearings, said Army spokesman Dave Foster.

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