The Department of Defense's occupancy plans for the Washington Headquarters Services facility at Alexandria's Mark Center property has been met by "strong opposition" by members of Northern Virginia's congressional delegation.
It is widely agreed that the road network surrounding the facility cannot currently meet rising demand. The facility has to be ready for operation by Sept. 15, 2011.
"The plan… contravenes the department’s assurances to work with the Virginia delegation and local governments to ensure that the occupation of the Mark Center does not cause failing levels of service to surrounding roadways and intersections, including Interstate I-395," wrote U.S. Senators Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D), and Reps. Jim Moran (D-8th) and Gerry Connolly (D-11th) in a July 14, 2011, letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
According to the DoD, employees will start moving from leased offices in Crystal City to the facility on August 9. Approximately 2,300 employees will be working at the building on Sept. 15. Another 2,600 will be moved into the facility from September to December.
The final relocation of 1,400 employees will begin in January. “We are particularly distressed that the DOD intends to use up to 3,800 parking spaces at the Mark Center,” the letter said. “There is no rule, regulation or statute preventing the department from self-imposing a parking limitation to 1,000 until there is sufficient transportation infrastructure. This self-imposed parking limitation would incentivize DOD personnel to rely on the alternate modes of transportation described in the Army’s traffic management plan.
“Legislation has passed the House of Representatives and is pending before the Senate that would impose a statutory restriction of 1,000 spaces if you fail to act. We therefore ask that you immediately reconsider and revise the recently released occupation schedule and transportation plan for the Mark Center complex by incorporating a self-imposed parking restriction in order to mitigate failing levels of service to any local roadway or intersection.”
The parking restriction legislation would limit the number of allowed parking spaces at the facility to l,000. Lawmakers hope it can lessen the number of cars on the road until short, mid, and long-term road improvements are complete. The DoD directed $20 million for these improvements, which will not be complete for 18-24 months. VDOT has also agreed to fund $80 million to build a ramp from the HOV lane to Seminary Road, which could be completed by 2016.