ANNAPOLIS — About 1,400 people have already moved to Aberdeen Proving Ground as part of Base Realignment and Closure transitions, Army and Harford County officials told a Maryland Senate committee Wednesday.
And about 4,000 more are projected to move to Aberdeen this year, said David Craig, Harford County executive.
“BRAC is not coming in 2011, BRAC has already arrived,” said Col. Andrew Nelson, Aberdeen’s deputy garrison commander for transformation.
Nelson, Craig and James Richardson, director of Harford County’s Office of Economic Development, addressed the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee as part of a BRAC update.
Aberdeen Proving Ground is one of five military installations in Maryland affected by BRAC — the Department of Defense’s base reorganization process. The proving ground is slated to gain a net of 4,700 jobs in the process, Richardson said.
However, Richardson estimates the county will need about 10,000 additional housing units because the percentage of people who live on post will decrease dramatically.
One of the three units leaving Aberdeen is an ordnance training school — mainly young students who live in the barracks and stay 120 to 150 days, Nelson said. The majority of jobs coming to Aberdeen are permanent civilian jobs.
So when the transition is complete, Nelson said, the proving ground will have nearly 20,000 jobs, but only 10 percent will be uniformed service members. The number of people living on post will shrink from 5,000 to about 300, Nelson said.
“We are really transforming what the proving ground will look like,” he said.
More than 20 defense contractors have also relocated to Harford County as a result of the transformation, Richardson said, which could eventually result in 12,000 to 20,000 additional jobs.
But while Harford County has already invested $250 million in school and water treatment plant upgrades to become BRAC ready, transportation funding lags.
Richardson said the county identified 36 intersections that need upgrades, then narrowed the list down to eight critical intersections. Only one has been funded — and even with the upgrades, the travel time through the area is expected to balloon from five minutes to 35 minutes during peak hours, Richardson said.
Funding road improvements near growing military installations is a major issue around the state, said Sen. Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George’s, the committee’s chairman.
“The transportation needs are tremendous, and we have no money,” he said.
Each installation area was awarded an average of $2 million to $3 million in federal earmarks for transportation upgrades, said Andrew Scott of the Maryland Department of Transportation. And Gov. Martin O’Malley budgeted $300,000 this year for a program that supports infrastructure improvements.
Those funds are only a small percentage of what is needed, but Scott said the money is still significant.
“We’re trying to patch together money wherever we can get it,” he told the Senate committee. “These are jobs that are coming from other states to Maryland. We are the winners, and we’re committed to make it work.”