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Upgrade coming for neglected part of Route 1

Wednesday - 1/25/2012, 7:32pm  ET

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Auto parts store owner, Rick Jones, points to two buildings next to his store that will be taken down because of the road widening. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)
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Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WOODBRIDGE,Va. - Big changes are coming to a long-neglected stretch of one of America's oldest highways.

Negotiations will begin soon along Route 1 in north Woodbridge where the state will spend $144 millions to widen the highway to six lanes adding a median and a walkway.

The project will also widen Route 123 from U.S. 1 to the Interstate 95 interchange.

The stretch between Mary's Way and the Occoquan River, a major traffic bottleneck during rush hour is cluttered with abandoned stores and vacant lots.

Business owners in the area are bracing for the changes.

Rick Jones, who owns Total Auto Parts store, will lose part of his property to the new lanes.

"Now that I know what's gonna happen I'm gonna fix up the store, and repave the parking and do some things," Jones says.

But he says Route 1 really needs to be widened all the way to the Prince William Parkway. He's also worried about disruption during the construction which is not scheduled to start until 2015.

Jones is just recovering from the flooding of the Marumsco Creek last summer which damaged his phones and computers.

Just south of his business on Route one is A&M Auto repair. The owner there, Buddy Sigmun, also survived the recent flooding. But he won't survive the highway widening. He's been told he has to move.

"I doubt it will be here on Route 1 because Route 1 is so expensive, so I will have to move back in a hole somewhere," Sigmun says.

He's just hoping to get a good price from the state when his property is taken.

There are already signs of change along this stretch including the renovation of the VRE station. But it could take several years for a direct impact.

At the nearby Marumsco Plaza, which was full of vacant stores the last few years, most stores have been re-occupied and new construction is underway.

Jones says he expects traffic to flow better once the construction his finished. His only worry is that it will move so fast, nobody will stop for auto parts.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)