FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Standing at the new home of the Defense Health Headquarters in the Fairview Park section of Fairfax County, Northern Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran shakes his head.
“This should not have happened,” he says.
The DHHQ, as it is known, is the latest Base Realignment and Closure installation with the potential to make life for the neighboring communities tough. Tucked in between U.S. 50, U.S. 29 and the Capital Beltway, the facility will bring all Department of Defense military medical health care operations to a single campus. The facility will house more than 3,000 employees and is expected to be fully up and running by July.
Traffic concerns — check.
Security concerns — check.
“That’s the underlying concern with all of these BRAC moves. They were done with a top-down approach, and kind of an arrogant attitude that they really didn’t need to pay much attention to the affect on the neighborhood,” Moran says.
What’s different about this BRAC move however, is that because the new facility and its employees are moving into pre-existing leased office space that will not require new construction, the site hasn’t had to adhere to certain stringent Base Realignment and Closure guidelines.
For example, the facility doesn’t have to meet a 40 percent reduction in single occupancy vehicles like federally-owned sites.
“It didn’t trigger a lot of the things that would have engaged the county and the public the way other BRAC sites would have,” Fairfax County BRAC Coordinator Laura Miller tells WTOP.
Raytheon, the previous tenant of the building housed a similar number of employees, but traffic has only gotten worse since the company moved out about two years ago, Miller says.
Neighbors are also up in arms about an intimidating vehicle inspection facility that has gone up seemingly in some residents backyards. The security checkpoint, just off busy Route 50, is expected to be the main entrance to the DHHQ.
Moran and Fairfax County Supervisor Linda Smyth, who represents the Providence District, took a tour of the facility Friday.
Moran said the General Services Administration has agreed to increase shuttle service from the nearby Dunn Loring Metro Station as a way to cut down on the number of single occupancy vehicles that will make their way to the campus.
But the Congressman is resigned to one fate.
“We’re stuck with having to deal with the traffic that’s going to back up on Route 50. There isn’t anyone in the Washington area that doesn’t know — Route 50 is a traffic problem,” he says.