- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 21, 2007

A plan to develop federal land near the Franconia-Springfield Metro station to accommodate 9,000 of the new workers slated for Fort Belvoir cannot be completed by a 2011 deadline, an Army study has concluded.

Fort Belvoir will gain 22,000 jobs in the military’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan, which must be completed by September 2011.

Officials hoping to alleviate traffic congestion had hoped to put 9,000 jobs on a site owned by the General Services Administration (GSA), which is near Fort Belvoir and only a half-mile from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station. In addition to giving employees Metro access, the plan would reduce traffic to the main installation.

But the Army report, requested by Congress, concluded that Fort Belvoir could prepare the site for only 3,000 employees in time to meet the deadline and that the project would cost $415 million. Developing the site to accommodate 9,000 employees would take more than six years and cost about $1 billion, according to the report.

Fort Belvoir also cannot begin developing the site because it does not own the land. Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, are working to transfer ownership from the GSA to the military installation.

Aides to both congressmen said the study’s revelation does not necessarily prevent Fort Belvoir from putting more than 3,000 jobs on the site.

“We’ve questioned whether or not they’re going to make that deadline all along, so we don’t view the concern that the GSA property wouldn’t be ready [by 2011] as an automatic disqualifier” to putting 9,000 employees on the site, said Bill Womack, legislative director for Mr. Davis.

An aide to Mr. Moran said that because there is no penalty for missing the 2011 deadline, officials could go ahead with the best option, even if it doesn’t fit the BRAC timeline.

Officials with the Army and the GSA have talked about the transfer and are willing partners, though the two agencies disagree about compensation, the Moran aide said, adding that the congressmen would be willing to step in with legislation if negotiations fail. The congressmen have also indicated support in the past for pushing back the BRAC deadline, arguing that Virginia will not be ready for the employee influx by 2011.

Fort Belvoir officials won’t plan for the move until the property is theirs, but spokesman Donald N. Carr said the Army would consider using the site if it acquires the land.

Another report released by the Army last month warned of dire traffic consequences unless at least $450 million in road upgrades are not completed. Most of the road projects have yet to be funded by either the federal or state governments.

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