Language Extending BRAC Deadline, Authority to Mitigate Traffic Impacts Passes House
Several critical provisions affecting the implementation of the 2005 round of base closures are one step closer to becoming law, after the House Thursday approved its version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill.
The most significant provision would extend the deadline for carrying out up to seven BRAC recommendations to Sept. 15, 2012, one year beyond the statutory deadline. Likely candidates to qualify for an extension include:
- realignment of Walter Reed Army Medical Center to Bethesda, Md., and Fort Belvoir;
- shift of inpatient care at Lackland Air Force Base’s Wilford Hall Medical Center to Fort Sam Houston’s Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio;
- creation of a joint medical command headquarters in the Washington, D.C. area; and
- relocation of miscellaneous defense agencies from leased locations to the Mark Center complex, Alexandria, Va.
Before the implementation deadline for a recommendation could be extended, the defense secretary would need to submit a report justifying the extension, certifying that the extension is needed to ensure the operational readiness of units or functions being relocated, and explaining the impact of the extension on affected communities.
Several provisions in H.R. 1540 would increase the likelihood that growth communities will be able to obtain federal funds to alleviate expected traffic congestion outside the gates of a neighboring installation.
One would expand DOD’s authority to use military construction appropriations to mitigate impacts on local roads stemming from mission growth. The defense secretary would determine “the magnitude of the required improvements without regard to the extent to which traffic generated by the reservation is greater than other traffic in the vicinity of the reservation,” according to the legislation.
The measure also calls for DOD to convene the Economic Adjustment Committee to consider additional sources of funding for the Defense Access Roads program, which provides a mechanism for DOD to fund public road improvements required as the result of sudden defense-generated impacts. The defense secretary would be required to submit an implementation plan for expanding funding sources to mitigate significant transportation impacts to military installations.
An amendment adopted in committee would authorize the Defense Access Roads program to spend $40 million. The amendment would establish a budget line item for the Defense Access Roads program, something it currently does not have. Now projects are funded from the military construction account of the service benefiting from the improvement.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the annual policy bill next month. For more details about H.R 1540, visit the House Armed Services Committee’s website.