Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Del. Scott Surovell Calls For Widening of Route 1

Whenever you go to community events in the Mt. Vernon area, there are always people there talking about how horrible the traffic is around the Route 1 corridor. In a region that has a lot of traffic problems, the Route 1 corridor definitely stands out as one of the key places that need attention. With the results of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) calling for an expansion of the facilities at Ft. Belvoir, the amount of traffic on Route 1 near the fort is going to make the situation a whole lot worse. Del. Scott Surovell, who represents the 44th District in the House of Delegates and grew up along the Route 1 corridor, has written a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh to recommend the widening of US 1 north of Ft. Belvoir.

According to Scott’s letter, “U.S. 1 has not been widened north of Telegraph Road since 1971” and the funding for the project could come from the $150 million secured by Rep. Jim Moran for improving access to Dewitt Hospital. Widening the highway could also have a very beneficial impact on the economy of the local area as the Mt. Vernon Estate is the largest employer in the 44th and, as Scott points out in his letter, “there are already significant backups around the estate” and it is “planning a $38 million library that will attract even more visitors.” Considering the tough economic times that we’re facing, it’s a good thing that one of the largest private employers in the area will be attracting more customers. Having a good transportation in the area, however, will not only make it easier for people to get to work but will also attract more visitors to the estate and the new library that’s being planned.

If you want to see Scott’s letter in it’s entirety, which goes into some details about the changes that he’d recommend, you can see the entire letter by following this link. Furthermore, I’ve posted a map his office sent out below that also illustrates some of the changes that Scott would recommend (continue below the photo for some of my thoughts on Scott’s recommendations).

There are a couple things to note about Scott’s request to widen Route 1. Firstly, this move wouldn’t replace the development of mass transit but would simply be an added step to help ease the traffic situation in the area. I believe this is important to note because while widening the roads would likely help in this situation, widening roads without also improving the mass transit system would force us to only have to revisit the situation in the future as the area continues to grow. I’m therefore very pleased to see that Scott appears to understand this concept as a statement that he released about the letter does highlight how he believes this widening of US 1 would “complement” the “additional mass transit options” that are outlined in “Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan.”

Secondly, I think it’s important to note that after the economy, “the future impacts caused by the BRAC process was the number one issue on people’s minds as I went door-to-door last summer and fall.” I bring this up because as I have attended community events and talked to voters across the Northern Virginia region, I have also run into a whole lot of people who list traffic as one of there major concerns. In other words, the BRAC process isn’t the only situation that is causing people to be concerned about traffic. Since individual communities in Northern Virginia have their own twist on what makes traffic bad in their area, it is extremely important that we have the leaders who are willing to take the time to really examine the hyper-localized issues and see what can be done to improve the overall traffic situation in the region. I’m glad to see that Scott is taking the time to really study where some changes could be made and I look forward to seeing him continue his work on this topic in the future.

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