What a shock: “Pentagon Plans to Close 180 Sites, Shift Area Jobs to Outer Suburbs” is today’s five column headline in The Washington Post.

And I thought I read the base closing list with some care yesterday…

Never fear. Turn to page 11 and get out your compass. All the “Gain” symbols are within R=20 Miles of the centroid of the Baltimore or the National Capital Subregions, within R=5 Miles of the centroid of urban agglomerations (e.g. Frederick, MD) or are big enough places (e.g. Quantico/East Prince William) to become Balanced Communities. These are just the places where one would expect them.

This is not putting the Department of the Army in Culpeper or even the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (think what they could do to help cure Geographic Literacy) in West Prince William.

This is exactly the sort of media distortion that generates and perpetuates Geographic Illiteracy and the illusion of jobs scattering to the fringes.

Also think how great a story it would be if the Pentagon had said they were going to use the clout of base realignment to create Balanced Communities. Sounds like a column to me.


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  1. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    As if yesterdays headlines on the base closing were not bad enough…

    “Base Plan Undercuts Sprawl Battle” is today’s front page contribution.

    Those who have read “It is Time to Fundamentally Rethink METRO and Mobility in the National Capital Subregion” (html and pdf versions at know we have been arguing for at least 20 years that putting jobs in METRO station areas is a good idea.

    For just as long we have been pointing out that all the jobs cannot be in station-areas near the centroid and all the houses near stations in the outer extremities of the system. It is imperative to have station-area balance AND system-wide balance.

    Military base realignment could contribute to functional human settlement patterns if done intelligently. Core municipalities have to get used to the idea of creating balance in all communities, not just attracting jobs to inner locations and letting the job-holders live “where ever.”

    Oh yes, and the jobs and housing need to be inside the Clear Edge around all urban agglomerations so they contribute to balance, not to scatteration and dysfunctional human settlement patterns.


  2. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    For once EMR and I agree. Moving jobs away from the center reduces congestion in the center. Even 5 or ten miles is a help.

    Even with station area balance and system wide balance Metro can’t begin to handle traffic to all the locations it needs to. In addition stations at the ends of the spokes are farther apart than ever, which means that the purple line is going to get a big boost.

  3. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Actually, I think moving the Defense Mapping Agency (or whatever it is called now) to Vint Hill would be such a bad Idea. All those people who live (or will live) in burgeoning Haymarket – Gainesville would then have(the opportunity of) a short reverse commute, easily of the type supported by jitney service. This would (could) take a huge strain off the western reaches of 66.

    The interesting thing to me about yesterday’s articles was the “instant analysis”. Really, no one knows yet what theimpact of these moves will be. Even if we had all the data we need it would take months or years to exercise the models (which we don’t have) to determing wether these move mean a huge increase in sprawl or a huge decrease in congestion, or both.

    We are not smart enough to know, and having some pundits and special interst spokesmen insantaneously clanging noisy gongs and cymbals was frankly, an insult.

  4. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Jobs scattering to the fringes is not an illusion, its a historical fact.

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