State gears up for BRAC
Almost $2B spent on infrastructure, other needs in past two years
Major construction projects are proceeding at full speed at several military bases, and Maryland has authorized hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure and school improvements, as the state braces for up to 60,000 new jobs in the next few years due to the Pentagon's base realignment and closure program.
"Because of our work and our strengthened partnerships, Maryland is ready for BRAC," said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who chairs the state's BRAC subcabinet, in a progress report released last week.
The building projects include a $641 million facility at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda to combine that operation with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Built by a joint venture between Clark Construction Group of Bethesda and Balfour Beatty Construction of Dallas, the project includes some 667,000 square feet of new medical office, emergency room and patient care space, and about 400,000 square feet of renovations.
The companies broke ground on the project, expected to be completed by September 2011, in July.
Other major projects started in 2008 include a $477 million Army complex at Aberdeen Proving Ground to house administrative, training and laboratory buildings being built by Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Baltimore, and a $442 million seven-building complex for the Defense Information Systems Agency at Fort Meade being erected by Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Greeley, Colo.
In addition, Rockville developer Opus East recently finished the first building of a planned 400-acre research and development complex at Aberdeen. The $12 million, 60,000-square-foot building is leased by Arlington, Va., high-tech contractor CACI International.
Site work started in May, and CACI occupied the space in less than seven months, said Matt Holbrook, senior director of real estate for Opus East.
This fiscal year, the state has authorized about $183 million for BRAC-related water and sewer infrastructure improvements, and $733 million for school construction, with most in counties that are slated to receive the most significant growth, according to the latest BRAC report. An additional $220 million is earmarked for capital projects at universities and colleges.
"The state demonstrated its continuing commitment to BRAC preparedness by preserving in the fiscal 2009 budget more than $1 billion in operating and capital funds dedicated to the first phase of the BRAC action plan," the report says. "This funding level brings the total amount dedicated to BRAC-related infrastructure projects over the last two years to $1.8 billion."
Maryland's largest BRAC-related investment this fiscal year is $361 million for transportation projects directly enhancing access to military bases, such as intersection improvements. Among those is a $38 million project to widen parts of Route 24 near Aberdeen expected to be completed by early 2011.
The state is also investing $126 million to expand the MARC train system.
In addition, Maryland has opened career centers at Fort Monmouth, N.J., and at military installations in Northern Virginia to help defense employees who want to move to the state. Fort Monmouth is slated to close and move many of its operations to Aberdeen by 2011, while many agencies from Northern Virginia are moving northward.
State officials expect at least 30 percent of the roughly 5,000 employees at Fort Monmouth to move to Maryland. Virginia has a similar center in Maryland to assist people affected by the transfer of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency from Bethesda to Fort Belvoir who want to move.
While Maryland is gaining thousands of jobs, Virginia and Washington are expected to lose thousands of jobs, according to the latest federal BRAC report.
Five BRAC zones
for infrastructure help
The state also recently designated five BRAC zones, which help local governments fund infrastructure improvements.
One of those zones is in the Westport neighborhood of South Baltimore. Turner Development Group plans to build a $1.4 billion complex there with some 2,000 new housing units, 2 million square feet of office space, 500 hotel rooms and 300,000 square feet of retail space, according to Baltimore city documents.
The area was once the site of a Baltimore Gas & Electric power plant.
The other BRAC zones are near Fort Detrick in Frederick, Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County and around the Odenton and Laurel MARC train stations near Fort Meade.
The economic impact of Maryland's military installations will increase by $5 billion — to some $23 billion — annually due to BRAC.
Maryland has launched a new BRAC Internet site at www.brac.maryland.gov.