The Baltimore Sun - March 8, 2013, By DAVID ANDERSON
In the wake of a lengthy BRAC process that has brought more jobs – and traffic – to Harford County, a transportation assistance operation has been set up to help Aberdeen Proving Ground's 21,000 employees find alternative ways to get to work.
Known as the APG-CSSC Transportation Center, the office is a cooperative venture involving officials from the post and Harford County Government with the goal of finding federal employees ways to get to and from their job sites on APG without using their personal vehicles.
A grand opening of the Transportation Center is scheduled for Tuesday in APG's Recreation Center.
Kelly Luster, a spokesman for the post, wrote in an e-mail Thursday that the office will "directly contribute to the reduction of single-occupant vehicles and traffic congestion on the installation."
"This new office will compliment the installation's Traffic Demand Management Plan and is great stride toward reducing our energy consumption and realizing our energy conservation goals," Luster stated. "By reducing vehicular traffic on Aberdeen Proving Ground, we will be increasing our energy conservation efforts as a community."
The Transportation Center is funded through Harford County's federal grant-supported Chesapeake Science & Security Corridor of Aberdeen – part of the county's Office of Economic Development – at a cost of more than $234,000.
The money will go toward Transportation Coordinator Syreeta Gross's annual salary of $52,000, a "telework study" to determine how other communities with military installations handle their traffic issues, and various administrative costs, Karen Holt, BRAC manager with the APG-CSSC Regional BRAC Office at CSSC, said.
Gross will work to educate APG's military and civilian employees of the post's more than 90 "tenant organizations" – the various commands – as well as defense contractors in Aberdeen and Edgewood about their alternate transportation options.
Those options include commuter rail, a private bus line that runs to and from New Jersey each day, carpooling, van sharing and the Guaranteed Ride Home Program, which provides employees enrolled in the program with four free rides home in case of an emergency.
"Everybody's excited," Gross, who has been on the job since Feb. 19, said Thursday. "They're excited about the partnership outside of the gate and they're excited that there's going to be someone at Aberdeen Proving Ground promoting mass transit and ride-share options."
Gross is scheduled to be available to employees in the lobby of APG's Recreation Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and at various locations around Edgewood on Wednesdays. She is also available by appointment.
The federal government's BRAC process had a major impact in Harford County when it began in 2005, through the closure of installations in New Jersey with missions similar to APG and the resettlement of many of those employees at APG.
The BRAC process ended in September 2011.
"And now we can actually see those tangibles, like the increased number of commuters entering Aberdeen Proving Ground," Holt explained.
She noted APG is the largest employer in Harford County and the third-largest "by population" in Maryland.
She said about 60 percent of the installation's employees reside in Harford and about 18 percent in Cecil County. Others live in New Castle County, Del., southeastern Pennsylvania, the Baltimore-Washington region and Northern Virginia.
The CSSC has received more than $8 million in federal grant funds toward its mission of helping Harford County and the surrounding region handle BRAC-related growth.
"We recognize the workforce at Aberdeen Proving Ground resides in the jurisdictions around it, so it's really been a regional effort," Holt said.
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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.