Blame Army for coming Mark Center gridlock Re: "Still no exit strategy for Mark Center," Jan. 5

Barbara Hollingsworth's recent op-ed is either misinformed or willfully ignores the facts pertaining to my efforts to fight the threat the Mark Center poses to traffic in Northern Virginia. Let me set the record straight.

Tom Davis and I voted against the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission's recommendations over concerns that adding 22,000 additional personnel to Fort Belvoir's Engineering Proving Ground would cripple the area's traffic. In part because of those concerns, in 2007 the Army decided to seek a different location to relocate 6,400 Washington Headquarters Service employees. At that time I made my preference clear: either the GSA warehouse facility at the Springfield Metro or the Victory Center on Eisenhower Avenue was a suitable option because of their access to Metro.

But on Sept. 29, 2008, the Mark Center site was chosen by the Army because it was the lowest cost bid. That selection took at face value the developer's transportation plan, which included a number of glaring errors that would have been identified had they not prevented VDOT from reviewing it.

Since that wrong decision, I have worked to force the Army to mitigate the severe traffic congestion that will be created at Interstate 395 and Seminary Road. Because to date the Army's efforts have been woefully insufficient, I provided my own solution: implementing a 1,000-car parking cap until adequate infrastructure was in place. Unfortunately, after passing the House, it was taken out of the Defense Authorization bill over objections by Senate Republicans who were threatening to filibuster all but a narrow, streamlined bill.

While the parking cap was taken out, I was able to add language requiring the Army to provide a plan to prevent failing levels of service at six key intersections and to identify where the funding to make those improvements would come from. While not everything we wanted, it does have the benefit of bringing the Army legally and directly into the traffic mitigation process.

Given the questionable actions that took place all along the way during this process, the Department of Defense inspector general is now taking a look at the entire matter, which I requested. The IG will issue a public report in the coming months that should help push the Army to do more to fix the major traffic problems they are about to create.

I suggest Mrs. Hollingsworth use her pen to spend more time pressing the Army to step up to the plate for Northern Virginia to prevent the coming traffic meltdown, rather than attacking those who have been fighting tooth and nail to bring the situation to heel.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th


Reusable grocery bags have higher carbon footprint

 Re: "D.C.'s nickel-a-bag fee nets city $2 million so far," Jan. 5

Consumers have been told that plastic and paper bags harm the environment. What we haven't been told is that hastily implemented, ill-thought-out policies to switch to reusable bags might be doing more harm than good. The Wall Street Journal reports each reusable bag has a carbon footprint some 28 times higher than their plastic brethren.

A new poll from Opinion Research Corp. found that only two out of five consumers reuse their bag "most" or "all" of the time. What do they do when they forget their reusable bags? They end up using plastic bags from the store or buying even more reusable bags!

These unintended consequences occur every time the government rushes to pass feel-good measures designed to shape public behavior. In this case, the D.C. Council has introduced new problems that might be worse than the ones they were trying to solve.

J. Justin Wilson

Senior research analyst, Center for Consumer Freedom

Homes should get priority over vehicles

If the headlines saying that a rise in gas prices is not only possible but probable are true, homes that are heated with fuel oil should get first priority.

Bernard Helinski