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ExEcutivE Summary t he Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) 2005 round is fundamentally different from previous rounds. It concen- trates tens of thousands of additional personnel at a number of bases, some of which are located in metropolitan areas with already congested transportation infrastructure. The time period by which BRAC decisions must be fully implemented (September 2011) is far too short for some bases and surrounding communities to avoid significant added traffic congestion for military personnel and other commuters during peak travel periods. The resulting traffic delays will impose substantial costs on surrounding communities and may even be harmful to the military. The existing funding mechanisms, through the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense (DoD), are incapable of addressing the problems in terms of both the speed with which they can be implemented and the resources they have available. Moreover, base commanders lack incentives, guidance, and resources to address the problems bases cause outside their gates. In cases documented in this report, base growth due to BRAC and other DoD policies outstrips communities’ abilities to respond. This prob- lem is partly due to the controversy and difficulty of expanding capac- ity in built-up areas in response to growing populations and travel and partly due to severely constrained resources. • The prescribed planning and decision-making processes that metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) must follow often require more than a decade to complete environmental assess- ments, follow public participation requirements, and develop political consensus on priorities. MPOs typically have far more projects proposed for their capital plans than can be funded. • Funding of surface transportation infrastructure depends heavily on motor fuel tax revenues, which are declining in real terms because of an aversion to higher taxes, improved fuel economy, and new automotive fuels. The recent recession has reduced tax revenues far below levels needed to expand, or even maintain, capacity in response to normal demand, much less to address rapid, large-scale increases. 1
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FEdEral Funding oF tranSportation improvEmEntS in Brac caSES DoD sees its responsibilities for off-base transportation facilities as limited. The only DoD program available to assist in funding transportation infrastructure off the base—the Defense Access Roads (DAR) program—is inadequate for base expansion in built-up areas. Eligibility is determined by the criterion of a doubling of traffic, which is impossible on already congested facilities. Aside from DAR, DoD policy states that local and state authorities are responsible for off-base transportation facilities even if DoD decisions increase congestion; this policy is unrealistic for congested metropolitan transportation networks. Moreover, off-base projects compete poorly in the military construction (MILCON) budget, which also funds the higher priorities of base commanders for on-base facilities. Finally, DAR is limited to road projects, whereas transit is often necessary to serve some travel demand in congested metropolitan areas. Over the next few years, the specific problems caused by BRAC 2005 can be ameliorated by the committee’s recommendations, which are briefly summarized in the following paragraphs and described in detail in Chapter 5. • DoD should accept more financial responsibility for problems it causes on the transportation facilities serving military bases in much the same way that private developers are assessed impact fees for the costs they impose. The DAR program should be revised to pay for the military’s share of road improvements and a separate DoD program should be established to fund the transit services necessary to meet military needs. These changes will require increased funding and segregation of these funds within the MILCON budget. • Additional traffic in congested areas has a nonlinear effect; each added vehicle causes a disproportionate delay on other users. As a result, strategies to shift modes, change time of travel, and encourage telework and carpools, while modest in appearance, have substantial benefit. Increased funding and segregation of base operating and maintenance accounts, as well as monetary incentives for base commanders to prioritize and implement transportation management measures, will also be needed. • In some cases, the facilities affected by base expansion are part of a dense network where the bottlenecks caused by increased military-related traffic may occur miles from where the base is located. The military cost responsibility should be based on a detailed analysis of how expanded base traffic affects delay and the cost of improving facilities to accommodate traffic growth attributed to the military. 2
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ExEcutivE Summary • Communities that benefit economically from the presence of military bases should pay their share of needed transportation improvements, relying on normal transportation resources. Metropolitan areas may need to shift priorities in their capital plans accordingly. • Bases and metropolitan areas should greatly improve commu- nication and coordination concerning base demands on the infrastructure of their surrounding communities. DoD should provide base commanders guidance and resources to expand military base master plans to include necessary infrastructure off the base. This should be accomplished by expanding services provided by DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment. Federal surface transportation-planning regulations should be revised to require MPOs to include base officials in their decision-making processes. • The recommendations made above will not be sufficient to address the immediate impacts of BRAC 2005, which may be severe in some areas. Congress should consider a special appro- priation or reallocation of stimulus funds to pay for near-term improvements in the most adversely affected communities. The cost of these improvements should be estimated by the Secretary of Transportation, who should also award funding to projects that will provide the most near-term relief to the most severe problems. Resolving metropolitan area transportation congestion problems is a complex, expensive, and ongoing effort. The additional travel demand caused by BRAC 2005 on congested routes serving bases cannot be accommodated in a matter of a few months or years. Over time, delays can be eased, but greater DoD funding, realigned metropolitan area priorities, and better communication between base commanders and civilian authorities will be required. Adoption of the committee’s recom- mendations to improve base–community communication and planning will help avoid future problems caused by rapid growth in personnel at military bases. 3
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