Area Still Waiting on Federal Funding for BRAC Transportation Projects
Language that would designate $300 million for transportation projects near BRAC-impacted military hospitals left out of federal continuing resolution.
Language that would designate a significant amount of federal dollars for transportation improvements around the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, which will receive about 2500 new employees from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center by September of 2011, remains mired in Congress.
The transition of a portion of Walter Reed to NavyMed is part of the federal Base Realignment and Closure process, and with the move comes concerns about traffic and congestion. Despite efforts of local lawmakers, the language that would allocate $300 million for transportation improvements around BRAC-impacted military medical facilities – which includes the facilities at Bethesda, Fort Belvoir, Va., and possibly San Antonio, Texas – was not included in a continuing resolution approved by Congress Sept. 29, according to Phil Alperson, Montgomery County BRAC coordinator. The resolution was put in place because Congress hadn't passed bills to fund federal agencies before the beginning of fiscal year 2011, which started Oct. 1.
The$300 million was appropriated and passed into law in a fiscal 2010 defense appropriations bill, but since the funds were marked to come from a Department of Defense healthcare operations account, the Defense Department couldn't shell out the cash, Alperson said.
"After the law was passed, DOD said, 'You're telling us to spend health care dollars for state and local transportation projects. That doesn't compute,'" he said.
The new language calls for the money to come from the Defense Department's Office of Economic Adjustment, an office that exists to help BRAC-affected communities. OEA provides the grant that funds Alperson's work as county BRAC coordinator.
Lawmakers will now focus on getting that language into the FY2011 defense appropriations bill, Alperson said. Congress will take that bill up again when they reconvene in November, Alperson said. The language is in the current House version of the fiscal 2011 defense appropriations bill, but doesn't appear in the Senate version, Alperson said.