ROUTE 1 TRANSIT STUDY AND WIDENING
It may take the better part of 35 years, but the Route 1 corridor is in the process of receiving transit updates that include bus rapid transit and light rail. Fall 2014 saw the completion of a study by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) which was passed on to the Board of Supervisors by the Executive Steering Committee: “All the leaders agreed on a vision that affects everything, schools, housing, quality of life, environment, everything.”
In the meantime, the widening of 3.7 miles of Route 1 is currently underway, with the anticipated completion date of Feb 19, 2016.
“I think the community is ready for change,” said Del. Scott Surovell (D-44). “Twenty years ago I’m not sure that it was. Today, people see we need to make major changes in the way we get around. They’ve seen the quality of life changes transit has brought to other areas of northern Virginia and want to see that kind of change here.”
Graham was a second-year student at the University of Virginia and alumna of West Potomac High School where she played in band and on the varsity softball team, and excelled academically. She went missing from Charlottesville in September 2014, before a search team discovered human remains over a month later that were ultimately verified as hers.
“That tragedy really affected a lot of folks in our community,” said Paul Schray, president of the Mount Vernon Civic Association. “A lot of our children play organized sports; the teammates with her, kids now of college age, it hit them hard. She was one of their own. It’s been a difficult time.”
RE-IMAGINING OF WOODLAWN PLANTATION
The Mount Vernon-based non-profit Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture is partnering with National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group to re-imagine Woodlawn Plantation as a multi-acre farm offering summer camp classes, programs for veterans and other food-centered events.
“It’s one of the jewels as we move forward,” said Katherine Ward, the Mount Vernon district representative to the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations. “The re-imagining is just coalescing and we’re very enheartened about the fact this could be a possibility at Woodlawn.”
“It’s been sort of moribund in terms of activities there,” said Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon). “This should bring more people to the site, with a confluence of major historical activities in the area.”
WEGMANS AT HILLTOP VILLAGE CENTER
The grocery heavyweight should be opening its doors in March or April of 2015, according to Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee), though no official date has been announced. A 350,000-square-foot facility will anchor the developing Hilltop Village Center at the corner of Telegraph Road and Beulah Street looks near-completion, but McKay said more complex permits and inspections are required because of the store’s included sit-down restaurant.
“It will change the nature of the district, as people come across Jeff Todd Way,” said Del. Mark Sickles (R-43). “Wegmans tends to draw from a larger radius than typical grocery stores do. Businesses that surround it in that shopping center are in a good position to also benefit.”
OPENING JEFF TODD WAY
After a closure dating back to Sept. 11, 2001, the three-mile, four-lane stretch Jeff Todd Way opened in August 2014, re-connecting Mount Vernon and Lee Districts via Route 1 and Telegraph Road. Named for the late businessman and civic leader, the passage was a collaborative effort among government officials, the Department of Defense the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“It’s been so hard to get from the Route 1 corridor over to Springfield and vice versa,” said McKay. “That really hampered our development.”
“For anyone that lives south of the Costco, trying to escape Route 1 traffic was virtually impossible,” said Surovell. “The cross-connectivity brought by Jeff Todd Way has been a huge relief to anyone who lives in 22309, and was a long time coming.”
OTHER TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS
With money finally coming in from the 2013 transportation bill delegates Tom Rust (R-86) and Dave Albo (R-42) helped bring about, as well as the county’s passage of a transportation bond referendum in 2014, roads like the Fairfax County Parkway and Old Keene Mill Road are being repaved. “The state was so broke, there wasn’t not enough money to put in one stoplight,” said Albo. “This bill, Bob McDonnell’s big achievement, basically cut the gas tax, raised sales tax and created billions of dollars for roads.” Other developments going forward in 2015 include extending Shirley Gate Road to the Fairfax County Parkway and updating the connecting Popes Head Road interchange, and improving the intersection at Kings Highway, Van Dorn Street and Telegraph Road.
“In terms of mileage, we don’t talk that way,” said U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11). “We talk about time: How long does it take? Our congestion is such it’s immaterial how far it is. We haven’t passed a long term transportation and infrastructure bill; we’ve only been doing it year by year and need immediate reform.”
*“We need to make sure that West Potomac and Mount Vernon and the other five elementary schools that are accredited with warning get their accreditation back,” said Surovell. “And make major changes to how accreditation is done in Richmond.”
*“Obviously it’s an election year,” said McKay. “The entire Board of Supervisors, School Board, delegates, among others. That’s exciting. It gives us an opportunity to get a good exchange of ideas out there, get the public more civically involved.”
*“Our $168 million budget shortfall,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield). “Our poor economic growth, dealing with that is going to be a big thing in 2015. Our region ranks below Detroit, and has for the last three years. We have to open Fairfax for business again.”
*Phase I construction of the Silver Line Metro and securing financing for Phase 2.
*New 95 Express Lanes opened in 2014.
*New turf fields installed at Mount Vernon and West Potomac High Schools in 2014.