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For Town of Quantico residents, there’s one way in and one way out.
Since 2020, access to the only town in the U.S. located within a military base has been restricted to only those who live and work in the town. Revenues from parking tickets and other fines are up, and so are tax revenues, as the Marines and civilians who work on base adequately support the businesses in town, Mayor Kevin Brown told PLN.
However, in recent months, town officials have asked the Marines to reopen multiple streets that were closed after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 2, 2020. After Solemani’s death, the Marine Corps ratcheted up security and required everyone entering the base to have a military ID or get special clearance.
Drivers must pass through the base to get to the town, which predates the base’s 1917 opening.
The town’s main entrance and exit is Potomac Avenue, the town’s main street with a view of the river that shares its name. Most of the town shops sit on the avenue.
There’s also a railroad track at the entrance to the town that carries Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express, and freight trains. The base is putting the finishing touches on improvements to the passenger train station at the entrance to town.
When trains stop on the tracks for extended periods, that spells problems for residents, Mayor Kevin Brown told PLN, preventing them from leaving. Brown said stalled trains prevent emergency vehicles from entering to render aid promptly.
“We’ve said to [the Marines] someone is going to die,” Brown told PLN.
Before the restrictions, drivers could also enter the town on Broadway Street or use a railroad underpass on Martin Street.
Capt. Michael Curtis, a Quantico Marine Corps Base spokesman, said Base Commander Col. Michael L. Brooks continues to work with the town and federal officials to ensure access to the town. While it’s not like it used to be before 202o when civilians could show a Virginia license at the main gate and drive to town, the Marine Corps is working on a solution to fit the needs of residents and Marines.
“The safety and security of all who work and live on Marine Corps Base Quantico is the base commander’s top priority. “…the base commander understands and always considers how base decisions impact the visitors, residents, and business owners of the Town of Quantico,” said Curtis.
The Marine Corps will review the concerns of residents and business owners before finalizing any new base access policy, adds Curtis. Brooks continues to talk with local, state, and federal leaders about base access policy. However, Curtis did not signal a coming change in the policy in his response to PLN.
A special procedure is in place to provide additional access to the town if a train is stalled for 15 minutes or more, adds Curtis.
Brown says there’s been a renewed interest in the Town of Quantico, which had an unprecedented 13 candidates running for six town council seats in the Fall 2022 General Election.
Ten years ago, Quantico began holding a series of firework shows on Memorial Day. The tradition, open to the public and held at Raftelis Potomac River Park, lasted at least three years.
Brown told PLN he would like to someday bring back the fireworks tradition to the town, as it was a way to bring new visitors and customers to Quantico’s shops.
About 600 people live in Quantico town.
Town leaders ask Marines for more street access
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