New $1B Defense Dept. facility – traffic FAIL
Here’s the problem: With thousands of employees spread out in leased office space all over hell and gone, you need to consolidate. You pick a location but it is an aging facility that won’t handle the influx of new people. What to do? If you’re the government, you gather a bunch of “geniuses” together, spend 5 years planning and building a new $1B facility supposedly in a central location. End result? A spectacular $1B FAIL – the only possible outcome. (story here)
After five years of planning and a $1 billion construction project, a gleaming new Defense Department facility sits atop a hill alongside I-395. The hulking 1.4 million-square-foot landmark will be the new headquarters of the military’s Washington operations.
By next September, the department must relocate 6,400 civilian, military and contractor personnel to the facility — equivalent to more than a quarter of the Pentagon’s staff — in a move driven by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Only problem is, the plan won’t work, according to many experts. There is no agreed-upon way for that many people to get to the building, no place to put all their cars, no nearby Metro or rail station.
Virtually all studies done so far show that surrounding roads — even after planned expansions are completed — cannot accommodate the traffic expected to stream in and out of the Mark Center facility each day. One approach proposed by the Army, which leads the project, would construct a large ramp linking the highway and the building — but it would affect a nearby nature reserve, which the local community rejects.
With no obvious solutions in sight, a battle has erupted on Capitol Hill and the fate of the building lies in limbo, even as the Army puts finishing touches on the facility and pays for construction projects to expand nearby roads and intersections.
“A building of this size — with no access to [Washington’s mass transit system] Metro — should never have been considered at this location,” said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who represents the district where the building — and anticipated traffic catastrophe — is located. “With one year until 6,400 people are slated to begin commuting to the Mark Center, we need to act quickly to minimize the negative impact for Northern Virginia’s roads, businesses and neighborhoods.”
OOOPS! We forgot that little detail, didn’t we? With the stifling traffic problems already present in the DC area, one wonders how these “geniuses” missed this. After all, they have to face the traffic nightmare daily. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to get these employees to carpool and ride their bicycles to work.
Officially, the Army claims it will make the project work by reducing employee commuting traffic and adding more lanes to surrounding local roads. To reduce traffic, it will encourage employees to use mass transit, bikes, carpooling and a new shuttle bus system that connects to area train stations.
In August, Moran fired off a sharply worded letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying the Army’s transportation plan would result in “failing levels” of traffic on I-395 and other nearby roads.
“The DoD relocation to the Mark Center will undoubtedly delay tens of thousands of commuters to Washington in the morning and a comparable number returning home on I-395 in the evening,” he said. He asked Gates to personally ensure the Army develops a better transportation plan.
One year to develop and implement a “better” transportation plan. I wish I could bet on this. I would wager my life savings on this being a stupendous FAIL – the only possible outcome from our government. Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If this isn’t insanity, what is?