Opinion: Letter to the Editor: How Widening Happened

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: How Widening Happened

Last week's article, "Woodlawn Stables Relocation Update," suggests there may still be misunderstanding about the relationship of Fort Belvoir's BRAC realignment to the Route 1 widening and the move of the stables. Fact is the only thing BRAC or Belvoir had to do with it is that the post's new hospital provided the impetus for U.S. Rep. Jim Moran to get funds needed for the long-planned project.

Need for the widening was not brought about by BRAC's realignment of Fort Belvoir. Plans for widening the road had been on the books for nearly 20 years at the time BRAC came about. VDOT had detailed plans drawn up, and had held a number of public meetings about it. (See http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/studynova-rt1.asp) For whatever reason, however, neither the state nor the county were ever able to fund the project. Moran, along with the Maryland delegation, was able to go to their colleagues in Congress and make the case that road improvements around Belvoir and Bethesda were critical to ensuring our Wounded Warriors and military beneficiaries could get to the military medical facilities as conveniently as possible. Congress appropriated $300 million to DoD, $180 million of which was used to widen Route 1 from Telegraph Road to Jeff Todd Way.

The widening was done largely according to VDOT's long-prepared plans, including the entire stretch that cuts across Belvoir. The only real deviation from those plans occurs north of the post, near the Baptist church, where the new alignment was curved south, across the land occupied by the stables. That entire issue was solely between the stables and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The NTHP owns the land where the stables were. For reasons only coincidentally related to the road widening, the NTHP had opted not to renew the stable lease. That alone is what "forced" the stables to move. You would need to ask the NTHP, VDOT, and, the Mount Vernon supervisor why things happened the way they did with that part of the Route 1 widening.

Again, please understand the post had no interest in how that part of the road was aligned since it is completely off the installation. The widening could just as easily have been made along the road's original alignment straight to Jeff Todd Way with no impact on Belvoir's mission or on how people get onto or off the post. I'll re-emphasize, too, that, had it not been for the BRAC realignment of Belvoir (specifically the new hospital), the community's long-needed widening might never have happened.

Don Carr