When Congress passed the Appropriations Bill last week, the Eighth District got millions in funds for a variety of projects.
“Generally, I am pleased with what we were able to get in the Appropriations Bill. We got some of everything we wanted for the District,” said U.S. Rep Jim Moran (D-8)
Transportation funding was high on Moran’s priority list. Alexandria will get $2.9 million for improvements on Duke Street. “We want to be able to synchronize the traffic signals and use smart message boards to communicate to drivers about traffic jams,” Moran said. “Also, we'd like to see the city begin to use satellites to communicate to people on their PDA’s and computers about when buses arrive. This can be accomplished by laying fiber optics under the street.”
The city's deputy director for Transportation and Environmental Services says this is a priority for the city as well. "We have already begun work on signal synchronization,” said Tom Culpepper. “That will help with traffic calming along Duke Street and we welcome the federal assistance.”
The Potomac Yard corridor also got Moran's attention. There is $250,000 to look at an interim step between nothing and possible light rail. “To really study light rail, we need to do a thorough environmental impact study,” Culpepper said. “There just isn't sufficient funding to do that and ensure that the shelf life of the study won't expire before there is funding for the implementation of light rail.
“However, we would like to study using a bus from Crystal City to Braddock Road and this will allow us to do that.”
The additional $800,000 will be used for looking at a dedicated bus lane to carry passengers through this developing corridor. Currently, dedicated bus lanes are not part of the Potomac Yard plan.
"We have to do something to get people between these two Metro stations,” Moran said. “As the development is approved, it simply does not have the density to support a Metro rail station. Light rail is the option everyone seems to want to look at in the long-term.”
In past years, Moran has obtained money for modifying the intersection at Braddock, King and Quaker. Nothing has happened with that money. “It is very frustrating,” Moran said. “Everyone agrees that something needs to be done. We got the money and no one can agree about exactly what needs to be done.”
ALEXANDRIA WILL RECEIVE an additional $1 million to replace existing combined storm and sanitary sewers in the Four Mile Run area. "We have obtained money for this in the past and this is simply a continuation of that project,” Moran said. “These sewers are very old and are dumping sanitary sewage into Four Mile Run when they overflow. We must do something about that."
Four Mile Run will also receive additional funds. Arlington and Alexandria are working together on a revitalization and redesign project that will turn Four Mile Run into a clean, vital waterfront area with wetlands and more urban hardscapes that people can use for a variety of activities.
“With this appropriation, we have gotten over $5 million for that project," Moran said.
The Northern Virginia Urban League is getting more than $270,000 to renovate its historic headquarters in Alexandria. “This was one of our highest priorities,” Moran said. "We were fortunate enough to obtain money in two places for this project and the Urban League now has about twice as much money as they asked for.”
Alexandria's 219-year-old Lee-Fendall property will receive $75,000 in capital improvement funding through the Save Our Treasures Program. There will be $50,000 for the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum.
"These two historic resources need renovation and we are pleased to help with their capital needs,” Moran said.
The Campagna Center will also get some possible capital improvement money because the Navy agreed to purchase the Presidential Yacht Sequoia for which Moran had obtained $75,000. “They could use this money to fix their roof,” he said.
IN FAIRFAX COUNTY and Alexandria, Moran obtained $300,000 to repair parkway damage from Hurricane Isabel. Also in Fairfax County, there is money to fix Old Mill Road to provide a connection from Telegraph Road to Route 1.
Homeland security got attention in the District as well. The Alexandria Police Department will receive an additional $400,000. Earlier in the fall, Moran obtained $750,000 for the department to purchase computer equipment and additional police cruisers.
Rail security is important. “Every day, hazardous materials pass through Alexandria on freight trains,” Moran said. "We have obtained money to upgrade security on CSX trains to protect against hazardous material accidents or terrorism.”
While No Child Left Behind received further cuts, Moran obtained funding for the Family and Child Network Centers to expand their facilities. "It is vitally important that we provide solid early childhood education to all of our children,” he said. “You learn more between zero and five years of age than you do at any other time in your life”
The model program between Arlington and Alexandria schools and the Library of Congress will receive additional funding as well. “The pilot has been quite successful,” Moran said. "The teachers can access original source materials at the Library of Congress and share them with students. We hope to expand this to other jurisdictions throughout the country.”
Liberty's Promise will bring interns to industry, service organizations and even to Congressional offices. "This program is designed to give first generation Americans access to job opportunities that they would not ordinarily have,” Moran said. The program is for 15- to 21-year-olds and is funded at $1 million this year.