Pentagon officials are still weighing whether to subsidize bus service between the King Street Metro and Mark Center, leaving Alexandria in limbo over spending $600,000 to renovate four old DASH buses. Mayor Bill Euille said Defense Department lawyers are still analyzing the contract, which City Council Vice Chairman Kerry Donley had expected to have done last week.

The city council agreed to spend the money to renovate the old buses and put them back into circulation to provide more frequent service between a major Metro and Virginia Railway Express stop in Alexandria provided the Pentagon reimburse the city and pay to run the additional service.

In return, Defense Department employees would get a free ride on any part of the DASH bus system, giving them an incentive not to drive to work at the Army's new office space at the Mark Center along a congested segment of Interstate 395.

DASH officials said fixing each bus would cost $150,000 per vehicle and take about five months. Officials want enough time to fix the buses and run trials along the new routes before early August, when the first new workers begin arriving at the Mark Center.

"We certainly want this to happen sooner than later," Euille said. "We want to be able to get the contract out and have those buses overhauled."

Pentagon officials involved in the transition to the Mark Center downplayed last week's deadline, saying lawyers are still poring over the contract. Alexandria city attorney Chris Spera said they city views the deal as an agreement in principle with a few details still being negotiated.

Four Virginia congressmen and senators, all Democrats, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week requesting several concessions from the Pentagon to fix Mark Center transportation concerns, including the bus subsidy. The lawmakers want the Pentagon to waive the normal Defense Access Roads Program criteria, which currently prevents the Army from funding several short- and long-term traffic improvements near the intersection of I-395 and Seminary Road.

Rep. Jim Moran, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Sen. Mark Warner, and Sen. Jim Webb each signed the letter.