Commentary: In Support of Two Richmond Highway Projects

Commentary: In Support of Two Richmond Highway Projects


Edythe Kelleher.

Edythe Kelleher, executive director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, testified before the NVTA in favor of the two Richmond Highway projects up for consideration on Thursday, May 10.

Good evening Chairman Nohe and members of the Authority. I am Edythe Kelleher, executive director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, or SFDC. We are a non-profit economic development organization that has taken the lead on revitalization in the Richmond Highway Corridor since 1981.

Thank you for your hard work thus far, and for providing me the opportunity to emphasize the critical importance of widening Richmond Highway – Route 1 – from Napper Road to the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway and Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit (projects 2018-006-1 and 007). Since the Federal widening project to the south is completed, this is one of two remaining bottlenecks along this part of the Highway that connects Prince William County and the City of Alexandria.

This segment is approximately three miles of a busy, urbanizing corridor. Yet it is four lanes separated by only a double yellow line, with few curbs, sidewalks or storm water management. The speed limit is 45 mph, as it is on the rest of Route 1. Problems in this section include flooding, erosion, and increased pedestrian accidents, including pedestrian deaths.

It is gratifying to see the strong community support for these projects, and for the new Embark Richmond Highway Comprehensive Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors. The Embark Plan coordinates BRT stops with development of the Community Business Centers along the corridor as pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly mixed-use environments, a transformation that has already begun in the northern portion.

We realize that recent funding reallocation to WMATA has made your decisions much more difficult. But transportation funding that promotes economic development, as along Richmond Highway, is not a zero-sum game – it’s not just costs. The public funding contributes to multiplied private investment, which increases state and local tax revenues while enhancing quality of life. The long-awaited improvements to this area will not only relieve congestion, improve safety, enhance walkability, connect multiple jurisdictions and access employment centers, they will provide significant “bang for the buck” economic development in the corridor.

I appreciate your taking the time to listen to my testimony, and hope that you will consider these comments favorably as you make your funding decisions.