Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fighting for the Future of U.S. 1

In December, Congressman Moran announced that he secured a $150 million earmark to improve transportation access to the new $800 million Dewitt Hospital on Fort Belvoir.

The Department of Army was given 90 days to make recommendations as to how to invest these monies. U.S. 1 needs to be widened south of Lorton and there are also needs for other transportation improvements to improve access to Fort Belvoir from Interstate 95.

However, the biggest transportation priority in our area is improving U.S. 1 between Hybla Valley and Woodlawn. Right now, we have 12-16 lanes on either side feeding into 4. This map below demonstrates the problem.

(Click On Map To Enlarge)

It is clogged with traffic during the week and especially on weekends. Lack of accessibility has prevent our area from attracting investment and being redeveloped. Congestion in the U.S. 1 Corridor is a major quality of life problem in Mount Vernon.

The changes bring brought by the BRAC process are going to be massive. The Pentagon is spending $6 billion on the base and shifting over 12,000 jobs to Fort Belvoir. The Fort Belvoir BRAC project is the single largest BRAC realignment in the United States. The Mount Vernon community stands to be significantly impacted by it.

Yesterday, I sent a letter to the Secretary of the Army. You can see my letter by clicking here. Here is the text.

February 21, 2010

Secretary John McHugh
Department of the Army
1400 Defense
Washington, D.C. 20301-4000

Colonel Jerry L. Blixt
Department of Army
U.S. Army Garrison,
Fort Belvoir
Command Group
9820 Flagler Road
Fort Belvoir, VA

Re: $150 Million BRAC Dewitt Access Improvements
Dear Secretary McHugh and
Colonel Blixt:

Since the beginning of the announced changes to Fort Belvoir caused by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), I have been very impressed by your team’s engagement in the community, willingness to listen and effort to communicate as we move through the changes coming to Fort Belvoir.

I am writing to express my recommendations on the use of the funds secured by Congressman James Moran for transportation improvements needed because of the BRAC changes. My delegate seat effectively consists of everything north of Ft. Belvoir along U.S. 1 and the Potomac River.

It is my understanding that you are considering recommending the widening of U.S. 1 along with numerous interchange improvements. I have lived in this community my entire life and my family moved to the Mount Vernon area in 1941. U.S. 1 has not been widened north of Telegraph Road since the year I was born – 1971 – and we are seeing the adverse impacts of that today.

After the state of our economy, U.S. 1 and the future traffic 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. The U.S. 1 corridor is our business community, the key to future economic development in southeastern Fairfax County and the heart of my delegate seat.

If you look at the attached map you can see that the problem is fairly simple. The central part of U.S. 1 is a small collector road for dozens of lanes.

  • U.S. 1 is fed from the South by (a) four lanes of U.S. 1 (dark blue), (b) 2 lanes from Telegraph Road (light blue), and (c) 2 lanes from Fairfax County Parkway (VA 7100) (light blue).
  • U.S. 1 is fed from the North by (a) 6-8 lanes of U.S. 1, (b) 2 lanes of Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway (VA 235) via G.W. Parkway, (c) Mulligan Road (light blue), and (d) dozens of 2-lane local roads.

Four lanes simply cannot handle eight lanes from the south and twelve-plus lanes from the North. This will be catastrophic once the volume from Dewitt Hospital, the BRAC changes, and the U.S. Army Museum is added. The part of the road I highlighted in bright red is in desperate need of widening and improved transit facilities.

If U.S. 1 is not widened north of Woodlawn, the new hospital at Fort Belvoir will only be truly accessible from the south or west. The U.S. 1 bottleneck just south of the Multiplex property currently forces traffic to substantially back up in Hybla Valley. My constituents avoid it. Without widening, emergency medical and other vehicles will be seriously hampered in trying to get to the new hospital.

In addition, if U. S. 1 is not widened, hospital users travelling from Maryland or through Alexandria from the north will be forced to use the Davidson Gate or Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (VA 235) via George Washington Memorial Parkway because of traffic bottlenecks on U.S. 1. The parkway, a highway designed in the 1930s, already has far more traffic than it was designed to handle and it is already unsafe. It was never designed to be a major thoroughfare or a commuter route. The parkway was conceived as means to conservation. It is part of a national park. In other words, it is a road running through a park. It was intended to conserve the natural and scenic values of the Potomac River and not as an “entryway” to the first President’s home or a military base. All trucking traffic is illegal on the road.

Every entrance to the parkway that has been added since construction – Belleview Boulevard, Tulane Dive, Morningside Lane, Waynewood Boulevard and Stratford Lane -- has increased traffic and accidents as people attempt to access a high-speed road without modern-day merge lanes or exits. Moreover, increased southbound traffic on the parkway will simply cause significant backups at the Mount Vernon Estate and where the parkway goes from four lanes to two or north back into the city of Alexandria.

The Mount Vernon Estate is the largest private employer in my district, has over 1,000,000 visitors and is also planning a $38 million library that will attract
even more visitors. In the summer, there are already significant backups around Mount Vernon.

Additionally, by widening U.S. 1 north to the Multiplex property, the dedicated transit lanes called for in Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan can be constructed and mass transit will operate much more reliably. Better mass transit will further mitigate traffic impacts through, to, and from the post all the way to Lorton. As long as the dedicated transit lanes are not built, buses will not be able to adhere to their schedules because of traffic delays. This will discourage people from using mass transit.

Finally, widening the red section of U.S. 1 would dovetail perfectly with the $58.8 million of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) stimulus funding that was awarded under the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government just last week to enhance transit service in the U.S. 1 Corridor.

We are currently presented with an opportunity to make a significant long-term impact on our community, one that will generate significant synergies for our area. The most logical investment of these transportation funds to improve access to Dewitt is to widen U.S. 1 as far north as possible – to the Multiplex bottleneck if at all possible.

I appreciate your considering my recommendations and the views of the community that I represent. I look forward to your decision and working closely with you toward a solution that is best for our community.

Sincerely Yours,
/s/ Scott A. Surovell
Delegate Scott A. Surovell
44th District

1 comment:

  1. Great job, Delegate Surovell! As a resident of Woodlawn precinct, near Frye Road, I cannot stress my agreement with you enough!