Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work - $1 Billion Dollars Used for Office Building to Nowhere

That's right, the brilliant people who use our hard-earned tax payer dollars have built a new office complex in Alexandria, VA that has no parking lot.  The office building is set to be used for up to 6,600 workers for the defense department but not one single parking space. 

The building is in a section of Alexandria called Mark Center.  I happened to have the misfortune of living in Mark Center many years ago.  I don't say that because it is a bad neighborhood, as it really is not as long as you don't have to drive anywhere.  The traffic is awful no matter what time of day you are driving.  For example, at the time I worked less than five miles to where I worked in Old Town Alexandria.  It would take me thirty minutes on a good day to get to and fo to work.  You don't even want to hear my horror stories of when the weather was bad or there was snow on the roads.  I have been known to say on many occassions that Duke Street should be outlawed. 

To make matters even worse there is no metro stop near this building either.  The closest one is about 6 to 8 miles away.  Mark Center does run along a highway - 395 - but there is no exit that is directly close to the building.  The initial plans by the Army was to build an exit that went directly to the building to try and reduce the extra traffic that will come once this building is set to open.  But, alas, there is a problem with that plan as well; there is a nature reserve there, so it can't be built.  While I understand that some may say to heck with the nature reserve, just remember when you live in a metropolitian area, you need to have some open spaces to take your kids, walk your dogs, and just have some peaceful place to sit and enjoy the outdoors.  So damaging this area really isn't going to sit well with the residents of Alexandria; and I personally don't blame them. 

You also may not understand exactly how bad the traffic is in this area.  We have the second worst traffic in the country; we are only behind Los Angeles.  It can take you two hours to go several miles if there is an accident, and believe me you curse when you find out it is going to rain during rush hour.  Our rush hour is also very extended compared to many other areas.  Government workers start to leave work as early as 2 pm so our rush hours run from 5 AM to 10 AM and start up again 2 PM to 7 PM.  so we have 10 hours a day of rush hour traffic. 

So, you can just imagine how local people feel when they hear that it is going to get increased yet again. 
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.

Now, the federal government has gotten involved with the "solutions".  Congressman Moron Moran has decided to put a limit of 1,000 parking spaces until the Army comes up with a workable solution to the parking and traffic congestion problems.  But the Obama administration doesn't like this idea:
"These restrictions are unnecessary and set an undesirable precedent on addressing challenging BRAC execution issues,"
Just one more example of the federal government thinking that it's desires are more important than the desires of the state and the residents of that state.  As a person who is going to have deal with the additional traffic and the time suck that we spend in our cars, I think we have right to limit the ramifications that directly affect our lives.  The Washington Post does occasional studies on how much time Washingtontians spend in their cars commuting and the number is astounding; something like 100 hours per year. 

So they have wasted a billion dollars building an office complex that cannot be used to it's capacity for at least several years and they have made the lives of the people who live in this area that much more difficult by increasing our traffic and taking more time away from our families and private lives as we will be sitting in traffic.  Gotta love the federal government and their bright ideas. 

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