Commentary: Prioritizing Route 1

Commentary: Prioritizing Route 1

— Since I first took office, improving Route 1 has been a major priority of mine. It’s where I spent my entire childhood, and is critical to the county’s economic success. Route 1 received a boost on Tuesday when the entire Board of Supervisors voted to list our Route 1 widening and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects as the top two priorities for regional and federal funding over the next eight years through the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA).

Smart infrastructure investments pay off huge dividends in the long term, both in saving money and congestion relief, a major factor in my decision on the vote. Overall, the funds will have a major positive impact on the residents who live along Route 1 and the thousands of people who commute on it every day. Adding on to the widening, the Richmond Highway project will also add bike and pedestrian lanes, as well as reworking traffic timing to address rush hour congestion along the highway. The BRT project includes median running BRT from the Huntington Metrorail Station to Fort Belvoir, and will include new transit stations, facilities for bicycle, pedestrian and vehicle travel modes.

While this is a great step ahead, I remain committed to continuing to work on securing additional funding to get these improvements built. While there has been misinformation floating around in the last few months that Fairfax County is less committed to Route 1, that is simply not true. Projects in Mount Vernon and Lee make up 43.8 percent of the list of projects that we have requested NVTA funding for, nearly half of all countywide requested funds.

In the past years, the county has been making many improvements that have been long overdue as a result of lacking state funding. Almost all sidewalk, bus and road improvements made over the past 10 years have been paid for by the county, despite the roads being state-owned.

While superficial results are fast and easy, true revitalization takes time and effort. I am proud that the Board of Supervisors voted to approve this funding request that prioritizes Route 1. While the widening and improvement along the highway is complicated and takes time, getting funding is the critical step necessary to really get going beyond planning and towards implementation.