Sunday, February 14, 2016

Embark Richmond Highway Embarks!

There are exciting things afoot on U.S. 1 in Fairfax County.  The condition of U.S. 1 is tied to everything in our community - property values, schools, environment, and quality of life.  When I was elected in 2009, I promised voters that my number one priority would be facilitating the redevelopment and revitalization of the U.S. 1 Corridor. 

After consulting with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), we determined that the first step was to develop a coherent consensus view of transit and land use in the corridor.  In 2011, Senator Toddy Puller and I pushed through SJ292 which commissioned the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis and Senator Puller and I secured $2 million to fund the study working with Governor Robert McDonnell and Secretary of Transportation Sean CoNnaughton. 

The study wrapped up last year and included collaboration from myself, Senators Toddy Puller and Adam Ebbin, Delegates Mark Sickles and Dave Albo, and Supervisors Gerry Hyland and Jeff McKay.  The final report is 500 pages long and you can read it here:

The study recommended a four phase approach to construct:
  • Sidewalks down the entire 14-mile length of U.S. 1 and a multi-use path for pedestrian and cycling.
  • Widening U.S. 1 to six lanes its entire length.
  • Constructing a median-dedicated bus rapid transit system from the Huntington Metro to the Woodbridge Virginia Railway Express Station.
  • Extend the Yellow Line from Huntington Metro to Beacon Hill and Hybla Valley. 
This was endorsed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last year.  Making this a reality will require long-term hard work and collaboration between the Federal, State and Local governments and all of Mt. Vernon and Lee District's elected officials.   

U.S. 1 and Beacon Hill Road - Yellow Line Scenario #3
The study also recommended major land use changes to the U.S. 1 Corridor to support the 80,000 new residents in population densities necessary to support beefed up transit systems.  To bring this to reality, Fairfax County has created a citizen-advisory group called Embark Richmond Highway which has begun meeting.  Public hearings will start this Spring.   

Hybla Valley Rendering - Yellow Line Scenario #3
(Building Heights in Parenthesis)
In 20 years, U.S. 1 will look more like the Arlington Metro Corridor.  To accomplish this requires major changes to land use, the street grid, and must be completed in a way that preserves affordable housing, respects our local history, and honors citizen input.  Many of these priorities compete with each other and will be difficult to balance and will require sacrifices by all involved. 

At the suggestion of Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, Embark Richmond Highway recently creates a simplified summary fact sheet for the public to explain its purpose.  You can view it and/or download it below.

To stay in touch on this, please sign up for email updates on my website - - and email if you have any feedback. 

I look forward to working with the community to see this come to reality!  


  1. Great to hear that there appears to finally be some focus on the corridor and commitment coming out of Fairfax to revitalize this region. Pity that there is a proposal to have another self storage facility on the corridor where the Brookside Motel exists before this process gets seriously underway. A portion of the site is in the Quander Brook RPA. Prior comp plans stated that public storage facilities were not consistent with revitalization of Richmond Highway. Having such a use makes for a great welcome to the Mount Vernon District right at the "Gateway" entrance to this area of Fairfax County. Simply looks like another example of the poor planning that has plagued the corridor for decades. Given that there are so many brightly painted eyesore car title loan businesses nearby, perhaps some feel such a place is an upgrade. A modern replacement motel closer to the highway and out of the RPA makes more economic sense and aesthetic sense given that the casino is opening on the other side of the river. I don't see how this kind of use will benefit the future 80K plus citizens on the corridor where there is already a shortage of park and recreation opportunities. This kind of proposed development on the Quander Brook stream valley squanders the opportunity for this Embark process to plan for a stream valley park with a safe pedestrian and bicycle trail that would run from Kings Crossing to the beltway intersection with Route 1 and link to the existing pedestrian and bike trails already there.

  2. If you do a bit of research, VDOT has plans in the books to widen Rt 1 from Woodbridge to Alexandria since 1968. Why spend millions every few years to study these plans drawn long ago?

    I'll be very surprised if you get the yellow line to Beacon Hill, considering there is right of way and laid tracks down Springfield.

    Keep dreaming