Ari Ashe, wtop.com
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – It’s 25 miles from the Quantico Marine Corps Base to Fort Belvoir – possibly one of the longer trips in the region.
“It’s a Route 1 major nightmare and I’m forced to travel it everyday,” says Sandra Wilson of Woodbridge.
“If you don’t live on Route 1 and have to travel on Route 1, you will be so frustrated on it. The traffic is like being at Kings Dominion on Fourth of July weekend,” she says.
“You put the radio on and that’s basically it. You can’t do anything else. You just sit in traffic forever,” says Elliott Bouchard, who works at Fort Belvoir.
On a good day, Bouchard’s 10-mile trip to work takes about 30 to 35 minutes. However, he says at least three days a week it can take more than an hour.
According to transportation officials, between 50,000 and 70,000 vehicles travel the stretch between Quantico and Fort Belvoir every weekday, and that’s gone up since the military relocations under the Base Realignment and Closure plan a few years ago.
It’s also a popular bailout route when any traffic builds up on Interstate 95 between Stafford and Fairfax counties.
“It’s a highly congested road,” says Tom Blaser, director of transportation in Prince William County.
He says transportation officials grade roads on an A-to-F report card-type scale.
“On a good day, Route 1 gets a D. On a bad day, it gets an F,” Blaser says.
But Prince William County hopes the new transportation funding bill from Richmond will allow the county to get money for two major projects to help U.S. 1.
First, replacing the light at Va. 123 with an interchange to improve traffic over the Occoquan River on the border with Fairfax County, at a cost of about $94 million.
Second, widening U.S. 1 between Featherstone Road and Neabsco Mills Road from four- to six lanes. That will cost about $40 million.
Blaser hopes to eventually link up the widening to Va. 123 on the north and Dumfries to the south, although that’ll likely take several years.
“I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll get state money. It’s Route 1, it’s very regional and we can make a case that it’s very congested. So we think it meets the criteria to get those funds,” says Blaser.
A state transportation official tells WTOP that every project must meet certain guidelines for congestion relief and emergency evacuations to receive money. The official also says the U.S. 1 project hasn’t been fully reviewed yet and it would be premature to speculate whether it will be funded.
Meanwhile some still aren’t sure it will solve the core problem.
“It’s too small. Save the money and fix Route 1 from Stafford all the way to Alexandria. There are so many people who commute from Stafford all the way to D.C.,” says Wilson.
“It’ll just bottleneck where it goes back from six to four lanes. You’re just moving the traffic to another area,” says Bouchard.
Fairfax County also is widening U.S. 1 at Ft. Belvoir between Telegraph Road and Mount Vernon Memorial Highway. Construction could start at the end of the year.
Whether to widen other parts of U.S. 1, including the 4-mile stretch between Telegraph Road and the Occoquan River, also will be studied by the county. However, any construction projects would be many years away.