How Much Have We Lost?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Working to Transform U.S. 1

The following article was published in the Mount Vernon Gazette and the Mount Vernon Voice on February 25, 2010.

Transportation has barely been on the agenda in Richmond this session, but our federal elected officials are coming through for us. Last week, Senators Webb and Warner and Congressmen Moran and Connolly announced $30 million in Northern Virginia transit funding including monies for transit on U.S. 1. Most importantly, Congressman Moran announced that he had secured approximately $150 million to improve access to the new $800 million Dewitt Hospital on Fort Belvoir in December. Aside from intersection improvements there has not been a single new lane of asphalt paved in my delegate seat since I was born in 1971. This funding is the best opportunity we have to improve the transportation infrastructure inside the Mount Vernon community in four decades.

The Army has 90 days to recommend how to invest the money. There is some risk the money could get spent south or west of Mount Vernon. Therefore, I have sent a letter to the Secretary of the Army asking that the monies be invested between Woodlawn and Hybla Valley consistent with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.

Today, there are 12-16+ lanes feeding eight lanes between Woodlawn and Hybla Valley from all directions. The Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan calls for that section of U.S. 1 to be widened to six lanes with two additional center lanes dedicated to transit or light rail. Widening U.S. 1 north of Woodlawn is absolutely critical to get traffic moving, make transit services more reliable, and to stimulate economic development in our community. Otherwise, U.S. 1 will become utterly gridlocked and Fort Belvoir traffic will shift to the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

You can read the full text of my letter along with maps on my blog, The Dixie Pig (scottsurovell.blogspot.com), or my Web site, http://www.scottsurovell.org/. All interested parties should also write to Secretary John McHugh at the Pentagon.

This week, I also put together a bipartisan coalition of 19 delegates and 11 senators asking the Governor to amend legislation to designate all of U.S. 1 as "Historic U.S. 1." This designation would confirm the road’s historic significance in the Commonwealth, stimulate its tourism potential and enhance visibility as a community asset.

Finally, the second half of the legislative session moves us into the budget debates. This year’s budget is horrific. It is the worst budget cycle since the Great Depression with the largest General Fund revenue decline in 70 years. It is the first time revenue has gone down in consecutive budget cycles since the 1930s. I will write more about the budget situation next week, but our community has more to lose from decreased state funding than any other part of Northern Virginia. We have significant populations of at-risk children, Medicaid recipients, and families in need of government services. The Stimulus Act papered over these losses last year and it is now time to pay the bills. The proposed budget reductions will push our local schools, hospitals, justice system, local governments, and charities to the limit.

In the meantime, please visit my blog, The Dixie Pig, at scottsurovell.blogspot.com for three to four more articles per week and many of my floor speeches. I need your input so please communicate with me. It is an honor to serve as your state delegate.

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