BRAC Deadline Day: Why Locals Feared Sept. 15
2,500 employees moved in; 3,900 to come in the next year to the Mark Center.
Today marks the infamous Sept. 15 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) deadline, but it is not the local traffic doomsday people feared.
That is because only about 2,500 federal employees have moved into Alexandria’s Mark Center at the intersection of I-395 and Seminary Road. The move-in of another 2,500 people will continue slowly through the rest of this year.
The brand-new facility will eventually be the workplace for 6,400 Washington Headquarters Service employees. The remaining 1,400 employees are expected to move into the building by September 2012.
Why So Many Feared Sept. 15
Sept. 15, 2011 was mandated by Congress as the end-date for the BRAC process, establishing a timeline in which the needed buildings had to be constructed and become operational.
Mark Center in particular has become notorious with community members and local lawmakers for the traffic nightmare they say it will bring.
The Department of Defense has been stressing that the move of 6,400 employees to the complex will be completed in phases over the course of a year, as leases on old properties expire. Still, many area residents believed the "BRAC deadline" would be the day on which traffic gridlock would cripple parts of western Alexandria.
It remains to be seen how the arrival of the remaining 3,900 employees will impact traffic.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has approved $80 million for a ramp that will connect the northbound HOV lane of I-395 directly to Seminary Road, but that has also come under fire from residents and would not be complete until at least 2015. During last week's special meeting of Alexandria's BRAC-133 Advisory Group,