Bill to help ease traffic at Fort Belvoir

A defense bill passed this week includes several gridlock-easing measures for southern Fairfax County, where 23,000 jobs are coming to Fort Belvoir, according to the office of Rep. Tom Davis, R-11th.

The 2007 Defense Authorization Act enables the federal government to push forward construction of the missing link of the Fairfax County Parkway and directs the Army to study the effect of transportation on the surrounding area, among other provisions.

Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“That’s all good stuff,” said Del. Mark D. Sickles, D-Arlington, whose district covers Fort Belvoir’s North Post. “That’s very important because there are going to be major impacts off base because of this explosive growth.”

In five years, an estimated 23,000 jobs will be transferred to Fort Belvoir and the nearby Engineer Proving Ground located west of Interstate 95.

The Base Realignment and Closure plan consolidates jobs at military bases throughout the country, including Fort Belvoir and the Quantico Marine Corps base.

Currently there is no easy access to the proving grounds; the last 2.5-mile link of the Fairfax County Parkway was planned to border the site.

Disputed pollution clean-up efforts stalled construction.

Sickles said the state has the money to finish the parkway, but the state won’t accept right of way because the environmental clean up is not done.

A provision in the Defense Authorization Act would “help forge an agreement between Virginia and the Army to complete construction,” according to Davis’ office.

The act also includes $13 million to build the Woodlawn extension, an east-west road that connects Telegraph Road and Richmond Highway.

Woodlawn Road, which locals used to avoid other traffic backups, closed after Sept. 11, 2001.

Other provisions are included in the Defense Authorization Act:

• The Defense Department will be able to consider funding mass transit projects related to Fort Belvoir.

• The Secretary of the Army would study BRAC’s impact on local transportation infrastructure.

• The Army would be required to study moving BRAC jobs to a warehouse within walking distance of the Springfield Metro and Virginia Railway Express stations.

Aside from these provisions, Sickles and Del. Michele McQuigg, R-Occoquan, said the federal government needs to “step up to the plate.”

“It’s horrible now going up Route 1,” McQuigg said. “If you add that many more vehicles, it’s going to be intolerable.”

Both delegates said Virginia does not have the money to add transportation infrastructure in the area where the number of jobs is nearly quadruple the remaining vehicle capacity of U.S. 1.

“As we try to build the infrastructure to support growth at Fort Belvoir, we have to keep all options on the table – roads, buses and transit,” Davis said in a press release.