- The Washington Times
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fairfax County officials say they won’t sue the Defense Department over the relocation of thousands of workers from Arlington to Alexandria, despite a report that showed the Army misled lawmakers about potential traffic gridlock around the new offices.

Fairfax County Supervisor Jeffrey C. McKay said the board doesn’t think it has enough reason to seek an injunction to delay the relocation, even though such an action has been strongly suggested by Rep. James P. Moran.

“While we remain concerned about the significant traffic impact expected from that new facility, we have determined that federal law does not give the county an opportunity to challenge that environmental assessment at this time,” said Mr. McKay, a Democrat, after the board met in closed session on Tuesday.

The Department of Defense (DOD) inspector general last week criticized an environmental analysis performed by the Army that claims the relocation won’t cause significant traffic problems. The inspector general’s report said two traffic studies provided in the analysis offer insufficient evidence and the analysis needs to be redone.

After the report was released, Mr. Moran asked officials in Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties to consider seeking an injunction to delay the part of the Army’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan mandating that 6,400 DOD employees be moved to the Mark Center in Alexandria by September. Located at the intersection of I-395 and Seminary Road, the area is likely to become heavily congested as a result of the relocation.

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart has said he had no interest in joining a lawsuit, blaming Mr. Moran and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, both Democrats, for failing to prevent construction at the Mark Center in the first place.

But Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille, a Democrat, has said the city council would consider taking legal action only if it was certain to be effective. The council had initially supported the Mark Center relocation in August 2008.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell weighed in on the controversy, telling WTOP Radio’s “Ask the Governor” program Tuesday that he will be sending a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that spells out his concerns about the move and suggests a few solutions. The state is paying $80 million for a ramp near the Alexandria site, but the project won’t even be started by the transition’s September deadline.

“The problem is, we’ve been advised by the federal government that we have to do an environmental impact statement, which means there are 18 months before we can even start,” said Mr. McDonnell, a Republican. “Perhaps they would delay moving people there before the infrastructure improvements are done.”

• Paige Winfield Cunningham can be reached at pcunningham@washingtontimes.com.

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