- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2007

Between $450 million and $740 million in upgrades to roads around Fort Belvoir will be needed before 22,000 new jobs arrive there in 2011, a report released by the Army concluded yesterday, but that money is not included in the federal budget through fiscal 2009.

“We need to have a plan in place that is going to prevent a very dire traffic situation,” said Bill Womack, legislative director for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican. “We’ve asked [the Department of Defense] to pay for road improvements made necessary by Department of Defense actions. Are they going to change their mind, and get on this? They’re going to have to.”

Mr.Davis, along with Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, and Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, has indicated he will try to push back the September 2011 deadline for the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan because Virginia’s infrastructure will not be ready for the influx of jobs by then.

The Army’s report, which is a draft environmental impact statement, spelled out the toll the realignment will take on the area, looking at transportation, land use, air quality and other areas affected by the growth. The report considers four alternatives for the location of the incoming agencies, gauging the effect of each.

Under the realignment, portions of Walter Reed Army Medical Center will be moved to Fort Belvoir, as will the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Defense Department’s Washington Headquarters Services and several other military groups.

The necessary transportation improvement costs vary by alternative; the “preferred alternative” would require $458 million be devoted to area roads, while the most expensive plan would need $742 million in improvements.

Mr. Womack said Mr. Davis is trying to prod the secretary of the Army to come up with some of the funding for the roads. Mr. Davis and Mr. Moran are looking at shifting money designated for building construction for the expansion to road construction.

“Our concern is that you’re going to put people in the buildings and they won’t be able to go anywhere,” Mr. Womack said.

But a Department of Defense spokesman said the situation is “predecisional.”

“The costs of the transportation are being analyzed by the various parties involved, both governmental and military, who are determining the best way forward,” the spokesman said.

The environmental impact statement estimates that effects in other areas will be minimal. The report will be available for public comment for more than a month before a final decision is made.

Fairfax County Parkway, Route 1 and Interstate 95 likely will be most affected by Fort Belvoir’s growth.

A BRAC Board of Advisors meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday at Fort Belvoir.

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