Virginia commuters, pay attention: Thursday may well be a good or bad day for your future commute, depending on how the House of Representatives vote on Jim Moran’s proposal. Moran is asking Congress to halt the transfer of thousands of defense workers to a new office building in Alexandria until the Pentagon can guarantee new commuting patterns won’t make what’s already a traffic headache becoming a full-blown migraine.
The Pentagon’s original plan, part of the 2005 federal base realignment, would relocate 6,400 workers to the Mark Center, located off Seminary Road near I-395. There are no immediate Metro access points to the building (it’s two miles from the closest rail station, but is serviced by a couple of bus routes), which would almost immediately spike the number of cars traveling to and from the center during rush hour. Moran’s measure aims to limit the Pentagon’s transfers to 1,000 cars, forcing the Pentagon to either delay most of the planned moves or come up with alternative carpool, bus, and/or telecommuting plans. One current solution – construction of an exit ramp off 395 that leads to the building – is currently on hold because of environmental issues.
Roughly 20,000 defense workers are being relocated to car-dependent work sites all along the I-95 corridor, which is projected to create two nasty traffic choke points: the Mark Center location, and near Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County. Moran’s proposal gives Congress the final say over the military’s traffic-management plan. It targets traffic at six intersections and forces the Pentagon to complete construction of access roads and ramps before the 1,00 car parking cap can be lifted.
Without changes, VDOT predicts “complete gridlock” on Seminary Road and “severe congestion” between the King Street and Duke Street exits on I-395.