BRAC: How bad IS the traffic?

Thursday - 5/12/2011, 8:55am EDT

By Mike Causey
Senior Correspondent
Federal News Radio

If you live and work in the metro Washington area, or visit here for fun or to touch base with headquarters, you have sweat equity in the BRAC realignments taking place here. Tens of thousands of feds are or will be directly impacted. So will contractors, and merchants to support them and commuters and shoppers trying to get from Point A to Point B without aging in place.

This week Federal News Radio WFED and WTOP radio have been running a series on the BRAC changes which are both local and include an influx of thousands of workers from Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey to Ft. Meade, Md. that will involve big life-style changes for tens of thousands of people, including new schools, new shopping patterns, and changes in license plates and drivers licenses. Even people not directly involved in the BRAC migrations will be impacted.

Most of the publicity and comments on the BRAC changes has been, uh, negative. They range from this-wasn't-a-well-thought out plan! to what-idiot-thought-this-one up?

One of the criticisms involves the impact of BRAC on local traffic, especially but not exclusively in nearby Northern Virginia which boasts the second worst gridlock in the nation. Another is that people are being moved from areas with great public transportation to already gridlocked locations where getting there is difficult at best.

But there are some people who are delighted with BRAC, understand why it is being done and who say the picture isn't as bleak as the one painted by politicians and the media. Example:

  • "Like everything else related to mass transit, Metro is 50 years out-of-date as it assumes people are just going from the suburbs to DC. But only getting your information from Congressman Moran isn't going to be enough.

    "You need to do some research on the Mark Center availability.

    "1. The Alexandria Dash bus AT2 route goes from King Street Metro (and VRE station) to a stop across the street from Mark Center in about 20 minutes.
    "2. Metrobus has a route 28F from Pentagon to within about 2 blocks of Mark Center in about 15 minutes.
    "3. Metrobus as a local route 7F from the Pentagon that goes to Mark Center but it takes about 30 minutes.

    "Regarding Fort Belvoir, you also need to do more research.

    "1. Metrobus Red line goes to the main (south) post from Huntington Metro, but it takes about 30 minutes.
    "2. Fairfax County Connector goes to the DLA building from Springfield Metro.

    "None of these are 'perfect' solutions, but they don't imply a total lack of commuter routes to the BRAC affected destinations. What you need to do is contact the bus authorities to find out if Metrobus or Dash are planning on changing any of their routes in anticipation of the Mark Center and Fort Belvoir moves." Douglas S., Alexandria, Va.

  • "Movements such as the ones generated by the BRAC changes in the DC area are always disruptive to some people. Others simply don't like change. But this was pretty well thought out and it has been years in the making. I am surprised that certain politicians are just now cranking up their indignation levels. Where were they three, four and five years ago." Dan D.

  • "Hope your series (of the impact of BRAC moves in the DC area) includes the 1,000 folks moving out of Crystal City to the new building at Arlington Hall Station. Just like the Mark Center (but with less people), the move takes commuters away from VRE and Metro, relies heavily on surface street shuttle buses, has no real increased parking for individuals, carpools, or commuter shuttles, and has no additional food facilities. The 1,000 affected people are joining an existing population of over 1,000, and the nightmare on George Mason Drive is about to commence. Hate to be a resident in the area - there goes the property values, the increase in traffic, and the abuse of the local infrastructure." Frank

  • "I don't understand when the governor of Virginia says they don't have enough time to prepare for the move. This BRAC round has been ongoing/planned for 5 years now. Why did they wait until the last minute to work on this? Now, since the state has procrastinated on building an infrastructure, the workers will pay. Also, the civilians around the area impacted will have more harsh words to say about the DoD government workers (civilian and military.) Two years ago, I opted to take an early retirement when my job moved to a different state, due to BRAC. I imagine a lot of others will too." DoD Civilian, Retired & glad about it!