Obama, Kaine make historic visit to Fort Belvoir
February 12, 2009
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - President Barack Obama joined Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine at a construction site near Fort Belvoir's north area, also known as the Engineer Proving Ground, Wednesday.
The commander-in-chief visited the site in the hopes of spurring quick action on a proposed economic stimulus package.
According to the Associated Press, both House and Senate negotiators are in the midst of narrowing their difference over the estimated $800 billion package. Congress hopes to get it to the president's desk by Friday.
"Enacting this plan is both urgent and essential to our recovery. The time for talk has passed," Obama said. "Now we've got to get a final version to my desk so I can sign it, so that here in Virginia and across the country people can use it."
Kaine and Obama were met at the Fairfax County Parkway connector construction site by Installation Commander Col. Jerry Blixt and deputy installation commander for base realignment and closure and transformation, Col. Mark Moffatt.
Local officials have been trying to complete the project for approximately two decades. Kaine said completion of the project is critical to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is under construction at Fort Belvoir's north area, according to Media General News Service.
The NGA is a DoD combat support agency and a member of the national intelligence community. It develops imagery and map-based intelligence solutions for U.S. national defense, homeland security and safety navigation.
"That project would serve 8,500 people and is important to the nation's security," Kaine said. "It was a huge get for Virginia and for Fort Belvoir to have the NGA here, but the significant concern about it was obviously transportation infrastructure."
Kaine said two phases of the parkway are not funded, which means Virginia can't serve the agency or the surrounding community as well as it could. Obama added the Springfield site is an example of the nation's unfinished business that the economic package would help address.
According to Obama, heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar has also informed him that it would rehire some of the thousands of workers it has laid off in recent weeks if an economic stimulus package is passed by Congress.
"Completion of the Fairfax County Parkway is exactly the kind of project we need to be funding with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," Congressman Jim Moran said in a Congressional Delegation release. "I appreciate President Obama's laser-like focus on creating jobs and rebuilding our critical infrastructure."
Congressman Gerry Connolly agreed in his statement.
"This is one of many examples of how the economic recovery plan will have a positive impact on our communities and residents," Connolly said. "Completion of this final segment of Fairfax County Parkway will fulfill a vision that began more than 50 years ago by providing an alternate route for commuters and commerce to traverse northern Virginia outside the capital beltway."
Blixt and Moffatt said it was an honor to have the two visit the post.
"This is a historic day in our history as an installation to have the governor and commander-in-chief visit us," Blixt said. "This project is very important to us. To know that it's a high level of importance to them is really saying something. I'm honored they decided to visit Belvoir."
While phases one and two of the highway project have been funded, Moffatt said the remaining two have not. The Army has agreed to provide a 130-acre easement for the 1.9 mile connecting project, while the state has agreed to fund its construction.
When completed, Moffatt said the "missing link" would allow interconnected traffic from U.S. Route 1 to U.S. Route 7 in the west.
(Belvoir Eagle reporter Paul Bello contributed to this report.)