Metro plans additional bus routes to ease Mark Center traffic nightmare

The clock is ticking for thousands of government workers who will being their move from Crystal City to the Mark Center in Alexandria in about a month. To ease the feared traffic nightmare, Metro says it will offer additional bus routes.

With jam-packed highways and little public transportation, commuting to the Mark Center complex is already difficult. An additional 6,000 government workers will have to make the trip to the Mark Center once the relocation is complete.

Sterling resident Jim Perkins said it takes him about an hour to get to work, and he’s not alone in that.

Beverly Howell commutes about two and a half hours from her Stafford home to her workplace. “It's going to be horrendous, especially with the Mark Center,” Howell said.

Now Metro is stepping in. At a board meeting Thursday, it laid out plans to create new bus lines that will run frequent express service for government employees.

One line would run from the Pentagon to the Mark Center, another from Franconia-Springfield to Fort Belvoir. If people switch to the busses, Metro says it could dramatically reduce congestion.

“We'll be able to reduce by hundreds if not thousands the number of cars around the region,” said Jim Hamre, director of bus planning for Metro.

“Whatever they can do would be great. It doesn't sound like nearly enough has been done, though,” said Jim Bock of Columbia, Md., whose commute is about an hour long.

Metro admits the new bus service won't be enough and it says it would have started planning earlier, but the Defense Department and the City of Alexandria only recently agreed to funding the project.

Howell isn’t swayed by the added busses. “That's still gonna be horrendous," she said.

One Virginia congressman estimates that every one of the 200,000 people who drive past Seminary Road on I-395 each day will have to add an hour to their commuting time after the BRAC moves are complete.