To the Editor:
My name is Paul Krizek, and I am running for delegate in Virginia’s 44th District. I’ve been proud to call the Mt. Vernon community my home for over 40 years, and Route 1 has long been the thoroughfare that has connected me from my home to my work.
I’ve seen Richmond Highway evolve over the years — from when Putt Putt golf was a fun feature of Hybla Valley to our multiplex theatre replaced by a Costco; from pawnshops and seedy motels, to better shopping centers.
We now have a huge economic driver in Ft. Belvoir, with twice as many people working there than at the Pentagon. Mt. Vernon/Lee and the Route 1 corridor has experienced ongoing change to meet the needs of its residents and to ensure that it remains the unique, family-friendly area that we all cherish.
And yet, today, Richmond Highway is the last main thoroughfare in Fairfax County that has not yet experienced a proper revitalization. We can see the negative impacts: excessive traffic congestion, poor pedestrian connectivity and no bicycle lanes, a lack of quality office space, storm water erosion, an explosion of title loan lenders, a dearth of sustainable small businesses.
These challenges pose long-term threats to our economic and environmental health, not to mention younger generations – our children and grandchildren – who are seeking communities that offer multiple transit options and a way to balance work and home, rather than spending hours commuting each day.
With the input from residents and community partners, I think we can achieve important changes such as:
A multi-modal emphasis with Bus Rapid Transit in the short-term and as soon as possible, expansion of the Metro system down the corridor with stops at Beacon Mall and Hybla Valley
Burying the power-lines to eliminate an unsightly feature of Richmond Highway and an impractical and risky design during storms;
Create new jobs and keep existing jobs in the community, and thus also add valuable tax dollars to the community; and
Maintain the affordable housing options that are one of Fairfax County’s most notable successes in community development.
On March 31 at the South County Center, a public hearing of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (called by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay) was held with a great outpouring of public support for widening Route 1 from Ft. Belvoir to the Costco.
More than 400 people signed a petition circulated by Delegate Surovell and me urging the Authority to reconsider the prioritization of projects to place widening of Richmond Highway between Mount Vernon Memorial Highway and Napper Road (near the Costco) on the list for funding in 2015-16. A packed house included dozens of knowledgeable, concerned citizens and civic groups that testified. It was great to see this first step towards a community-led revitalization of a very important road that is our “Main Street” here for Mt. Vernon and Lee, which we know as U.S. Rt. 1, or as many of us prefer, Richmond Highway.