Missing your commute over the weekend?

There’s been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of BRAC on Maryland’s roadways lately.

While BRAC will recapture some Maryland workers who have been lost to jobs in Washington and Virginia, many commuters are hoping the state’s real BRAC gain could come in the form of speedier commutes — that is, if mass-transit projects result.

The number of workers commuting from the Baltimore region to Washington grew by 26 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to a recent story in the Baltimore Examiner. And Virginia gets about 116,000 Maryland workers every day (most of them from PG and MoCo, but about 13,000 come from Baltimore).

From the story:

More and more, Baltimore-area commuters are taking long commutes toward Washington’s suburbs in southern Maryland and Northern Virginia. But planners are hoping that growth tied to military bases near Baltimore and suburban Virginia will reverse some of those trends.

Some suggestions on the table: Anne Arundel County would like an extension of the Metro’s Green Line to BWI airport. Harford County has gotten funds for a new MARC station in Edgewood and has proposed a new transit center in Aberdeen.

Do you employ public transit in your daily commute, or is it too time-consuming or inefficient for you? Do you think Maryland needs to shape up its transit systems – and is BRAC its only chance to do it?

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

GAO: Base closings to cost more, save less

Surprised?

A report (PDF) from the Government Accountability Office yesterday says that the Pentagon is planning to run over about $10 billion on base closings and realignments. Oh, and there’ll be about $200 million less in savings.

“The Defense Department expects to spend $31 billion to implement Base Closing and Realignment Commission’s recommendations and predicted net annual savings of $4 billion. Also, it will take until 2017 for the Defense Department to recover upfront costs, four years longer than the base closing commission predicted.”

In addition, the closure of New Jersey’s Fort Monmouth will cost more than any other installation on the Pentagon’s 2005 “hit list” (it’s now estimated at $1.5 billion). The new information has fueled many Garden Staters who call for the decision to be re-examined.

Other one-time cost increases include:

-$970 million more for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency at Fort Belvoir, Virginia

-$700 million more to relocate and realign Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

What’s BRAC mean to you?

BRAC is coming. No, this big, ugly acronym is not the newest nemesis of Godzilla. Though, Mothra has got to be collecting mothballs by now (yes, a sad pun, but I couldn’t help myself).

BRAC, translated from governmental jargon, is the Defense Department’s base realignment and closure process. And the areas near Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground are set to reap the bounty of defense workers who will soon be flooding into our state from the soon-to-be shuttered Fort Monmouth in New Jersey.

Yes, it means more jobs for Maryland, which will be a boost to the state’s economy, along with more people looking to buy homes and possibly more home construction to accommodate the new residents, which could boost a slumping housing market. All positive things, I admit.

But to me, and further confirmation that I’ve slowly morphed into a grumpy old curmudgeon, BRAC just means more traffic and more profanity-laced rides to work. Yes, I’m happy for the state of Maryland, but I’m full of fear and loathing for the state of commuters who already seem to suffer from declining motor skills and mental capacity in larger and larger numbers.

Barring my rage-fueled roadside rant, what does BRAC mean to you?

-FRANCIS SMITH, Assistant Special Publications Editor

Ode to acronyms

There’s no question that we like it short and sweet in this country. Who needs to watch Entertainment Television when we can watch E! ? Why send the President of the United States to the North American Aerospace Defense Command center in a time of crisis when POTUS can go to NORAD?

Nobody creates acronyms better that the United States — or should I say U.S. of A.

Here in Maryland, with thousands of jobs coming as part of the military’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, acronyms and abbreviations are going to become an even bigger part of our everyday lives. If we’re to survive the influx of the military and its contractors, we better figure out what they are saying…ASAP.

To help us out, the Chesapeake Science & Security Corridor — a.k.a. the CSSC, which is made up of the counties in central Maryland affected by BRAC — came out with a handy pamphlet called BRACANYMS.

BRACANYMS translates military speak for the average citizen or business owner. Some of the entries are pretty straightforward and already part of our everyday lexicon: AACC stands for Anne Arundel Community College; DPW is the Department of Public Works; MTA is the Maryland Transit Authority; HQ is headquarters.

Others, though, are perplexing and lead one to wonder: Is this English? Is this where my tax dollars are going?

There is NETOPS, which is how the military says Network Operations; RDECOM which is the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command; O&M, which is the government’s way of untwisting the complicated phrase Operations and Maintenance.

Then there is the PEO family with PEO, PEO C3T, PEO EIS and PEO IEW&S. As far as I can tell they have something to do with offices that manage a group of programs.

Sigh.

Do we really need guide to acronyms? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place without them? How about a ban on government acronyms altogether?

Which acronyms would you like to see disappear?

Send us your nominations PDQ.

—LOUIS LLOVIO, Business Writer