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GAO says Pentagon can do more to fix traffic around growing bases like JBLM

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Feb. 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
February 25, 2011 12:01 pm

Another government report is urging the Pentagon to improve roads around growing military installations, such as Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Today’s comes from the Government Accountability Office, which found that the Pentagon’s main fund to pay for off-base traffic improvements is difficult to use and poorly understood.

The National Research Council earlier this month reached a similar conclusion, finding that the threshold to utilize the Defense Access Roads program is out of reach for military bases in developed areas. It requires traffic to double around a base before the Pentagon can open its coffers to pay for traffic improvements.

The GAO also encouraged the Pentagon to call together a little-used committee of 22 federal agencies that has the power to coordinate traffic projects around military bases. That committee could identify available funding and make sure it’s spent well.

“Without this leadership, it is unlikely that the federal agencies can provide the effective interagency and intergovernmental coordination and potential funds needed to help address the unmet transportation needs of defense-affected communities,” the GAO report says.

South Sound residents and local governments have been looking for solutions to thick traffic around Lewis-McChord, which has nearly twice as many soldiers assigned to it today than it had a decade ago.  Officials at the base are partnering with the state Department of Transportation and local governments to identify projects that can help. The state estimates it would cost $1 billion to pay for the full list 0f traffic improvements.

The GAO looked at 26 growing bases at the request of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Lewis-McChord is the only one west of Texas.

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