Column: Route 1 and Mount Vernon Community

Column: Route 1 and Mount Vernon Community

— The Mount Vernon area has been my home since 1975. It has been a wonderful place to raise a family and become a part of the community. We are fortunate to have good schools, the Potomac nearby, biking and hiking trails, Dyke Marsh and Huntley Meadows. History is part of our everyday lives with Mount Vernon, the home of our first President George Washington, and Gunston Hall, home to George Mason, often referred to along with James Madison as the “father of our U.S. Bill of Rights.” But most importantly, the Mount Vernon area is a real community welcoming everyone of any age.

One of the greatest issues facing us is the congestion on Route 1. I’ve fought for improvements to Route 1 since I first took office in 1992 as a delegate in the 44th District of Virginia in the General Assembly. And, I’ve continued that fight since 2000 as the senator from the 36th Senatorial District of Virginia. While in the House of Delegates, I introduced three House Joint (HJ) Resolutions, agreed to by the General Assembly, to mandate the first comprehensive studies of the Route 1 Corridor in Fairfax and Prince William Counties. These studies in 1994, 1996, and 1998 verified that improvement of the highway would result in: increased capacity, improved safety, accommodation of economic redevelopment, and improved pedestrian access.

During this time, the federal, state, and local governments have worked together to bring about much needed positive change to the Route 1 area, the economic route as well as the only direct alternative or emergency diversion route for Interstate 95. It has been a challenge to get funding.

In 2011, I introduced and got passed a bill to initiate and fund the Route 1 Transit Study in both Fairfax and Prince William counties. My Transit Study bill was approved and funded.

The Fairfax Department of Transportation is planning to perform an alternative analysis study to recommend various ways to assist with transit in the area. They have applied for a $2 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit has made available $500,000 to assist with the alternative analysis study. Completing this alternative study is key to receiving Federal funding whether it is bus rapid transit, eventually metro, or any other type of transit service. The county is hoping to be able to announce that the Federal grant has been approved soon. It will take two years to complete the transit analysis in Fairfax.

Congressman Jim Moran was able to obtain $180 million in Federal funding to provide congestion relief exacerbated by the new community hospital at Fort Belvoir between Woodlawn Plantation south to Telegraph Road. In that project, the right of way for future transit will be saved to be ready to hook up with whatever transit decision is made and built. The Federal Highway Administration has held community meetings and should be making a decision as to which alternative can be worked out to widen Route 1 in that area.

Making improvements to Route 1 area transportation and transit are important to our area. With the addition of personnel to Fort Belvoir, we are experiencing more overflow traffic on side streets and on Fort Hunt Road. We must continue to improve our infrastructure to keep our community a thriving but also welcoming to those who make their homes here and travel our roadways.