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Mount Vernon: More Money For Route 1

Photo courtesy of the Washington Post

Fairfax County elected officials were pleased with recent announcements from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and Commonwealth Transportation Board that included increased funding for transportation improvements along U.S. Route 1.

As part of its FY 2015-2016 Program, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority voted through an additional $1 million on top of a previously allocated $9 million in federal funding towards widening the highway from Mount Vernon Memorial Highway to Napper Road. This initial funding would support preliminary work like design, environmental analysis and potential land acquisition.

The new Six Year Improvement Plan of the Commonwealth Transportation Board includes a proposed $4 million, also for preliminary work to do engineering and environmental impact studies for the addition of a Bus Rapid Transit system, a recommendation of the 2014 Route 1 Multimodal Study completed by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit.

“The big, big picture is all of this is the first step to extending the Yellow Line into Hybla Valley, laying the groundwork for that,” said Del. Scott Surovell (D-44). “Beneath that, the next step from the $14 million we just secured, what it’s really about is a completely new vision for the Route 1 corridor and the infrastructure that’s there to support it.”

Surovell sees the additional $1 million and support from the Commonwealth Transportation Board as significant interest from those groups in funding the projects going forward.

Justin Brown, a Democratic candidate for 44th district House of Delegates seat, disagrees.

“I have heard from our residents, they see this for what it is, it’s political hush money that allows [the Northern Virginia Transit Authority] to kick our project down the road, provide more money for Tyson’s Corner and Reston, and disregard South County.”

A candidate for the same seat, Paul Krizek said, “This is very good news and just shows the power of the Mount Vernon-Lee community when it speaks with one strong voice. I am very proud of the almost 500 citizens that signed Del. Scott Surovell and my petition that we circulated, and the 130 citizens that came together at the [Northern Virginia Transit Authority] hearing last month. Clearly our message was heard.”

In a statement, Board of Supervisors chairman Sharon Bulova also referenced the March 31 community meeting where numerous citizens voiced their opinions that the road widening be made a higher priority by the Northern Virginia Transit Authority.

“We heard constituents loud and clear, and have since been hard at work to secure additional [Northern Virginia Transit Authority] funding for this area,” Bulova said. “Transit improvements will bring new development, residents and businesses to the area and help transform the Route 1 Corridor into a vibrant destination spot in Fairfax County,” Bulova said.

With preliminary funding in place, Surovell said the next question is “Where do we find $600 million to fund all these improvements?”

The sources, he believes, ought to be the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Federal Transit Administration, the U.S. Army (“I’m hopeful they will step up to the plate — a lot of need for this was driven by changes at Fort Belvoir,” Surovell said) and Fairfax County.

“The county made some big commitments in Tysons Corner and Dulles; I think they should make a similar commitment to Route 1, on our end of Fairfax,” Surovell said.

Subtitle: 
Improvement projects for corridor gather momentum.