Satellite parking suggested to ease Mark Center traffic

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON — More ideas are circulating about how to deal with the expected traffic congestion around the Mark Center in January when the building is supposed to be fully occupied with 6,400 workers.

Virginia’s congressional delegation continues to push for a delay in the full occupancy of the building.

A report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, due out this week, says the Army used bad traffic information to justify moving defense-related employees to the Mark Center off Interstate 395.

Most of the relocating employees are expected to drive to work, adding to already bad backups in Alexandria’s West End. There is no Metro station close to the complex.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called the inspector general’s report a good example of “cooking the books,” since it was done on holidays when traffic was light.

He is among those who wants a delay in full occupancy.

“I’m going to contact [Defense] Secretary Panetta directly on this,” he said.

In the meantime, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who has been highly critical of the Army’s plans for the Mark Center, says the Pentagon should and set up satellite parking with shuttle bus service.

“For example, the Landmark Mall may have spaces, the Pentagon may have additional spaces.”

He says they could set up satellite parking and bus service as far south as Prince William and Stafford counties.

Some road improvements are coming to the area around the Mark Center near Seminary Road, including a new ramp from the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, but that could take two years to build.

Moran says there’s already evidence that even with partial occupancy, many side roads have become more congested around the Mark Center site.

“This shouldn’t be a war. We should be on the same side. I wish the Army would work with us instead of against us,” Moran says.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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