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Rejoice? Your Daily Commute Could Change!

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    Posted: 19 May 2005 at 10:50am
From the WTOP News website:

QUOTE: Housing Prices Put Pressure on Rural Areas
Updated: Thursday, May. 19, 2005 - 7:27 AM ......

WASHINGTON - As housing prices in the immediate metro area rise, traffic pressure grows and may get worse if tens of thousands of jobs are shifted to Fort Belvoir, Va.

"This is going to promote sprawl pressures as far out as Caroline County to the south, Culpeper and Shenandoah Valley to the west," says Stewart Schwartz, executive director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

He says those traditionally rural areas already are experiencing growing pressures.

"We certainly are finding we can't get away from it all," Schwartz says.

If the Defense Department moves the 18,000 jobs to southern Fairfax County from Arlington County, Va., Bethesda, Md., and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C., Fairfax County Supervisor Dana Kauffman believes Fairfax County will be able to adapt. He says it's too soon to predict the impact on traffic.

"The jobs may move, but they may be moving closer to where the people live," Kauffman says.

Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, studies the area's economy and housing.

The military relocations, if they happen, will be gradual over the next several years.

"I just don't think that's going to have much effect on where people are going to live in the short term." Fuller says.

Because the metro area is sustaining job growth of 53,000 jobs a year or more, Fuller says the housing market will continue to grow, and so will the prices.

But Fuller says he thinks buyers are "absolutely nuts" to pay what they are for housing. He believes the market will normalize in the next couple of years.

As people are moving farther south and west, some counties, including Stafford County, Va., are actively recruiting defense-related businesses.

"If we build buildings to DoD standards with proper setbacks and bomb prevention measures clearly we have put our buildings above others," says Stafford County Economic Development Director Timothy J. Baroody.

But Baroody says workers wouldn't necessarily live in Stafford. In fact, Stafford is not encouraging massive housing developments.

"The reverse commute is obviously a very good thing for us," he says.

To handle the prospect of reverse commuters, Stafford County is widening Routes 610 and 17 and it will get a new Interstate 95 interchange in late summer or early fall.

Visit their website for more info on local growth, sprawl and crawl.

Keep on sluggin'! [:)]
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