Alexandria officials are still waiting for the Pentagon to decide whether it's willing to pay for bus service to its new Mark Center office building, but in the meantime have turned to the state in hopes of funding the projects should the Pentagon refuse to help. City officials anticipate traffic gridlock at the intersection of Interstate 395 and Seminary Road, the site of the Army's new office space for about 6,400 Defense Department employees, unless road improvements are made and public transportation to the site is expanded.
The city council tentatively approved a plan to renovate four DASH buses at a cost of $150,000 each so they could be used to shuttle Mark Center workers between a Metro station and their offices, but officials are still waiting for the Army to approve the agreement. So far, no funds have been secured to improve roads near the site, where employees start work in August.
With federal funding uncertain, and scarce local dollars available for transportation projects, hopes for state funding help are high.
"In reality, given the pace of the federal government, it looks like it is the best bet," said Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, who introduced one of the amendments. "And this is such a temporary fix. I almost think of it like a hemorrhage, and this is just a clamp, just until we can have the major surgery."
Herring's amendment would provide the city $17 million over the next two years to add lanes to I-395 and widen Seminary Road, among other improvements recommended by the Alexandria City Council.
The other amendment, introduced by Del. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, would provide the city $3 million to complete studies of public transportation options along the Beauregard Corridor near the Mark Center.
"The state certainly didn't create this problem, but we've got to be a part of the solution," Ebbin said.