Reducing the amount of traffic flow congestion on U.S. Route 1 was the topic of discussion during a highway improvement meeting Oct. 20.

Garrison staff, politicians and civilians shared knowledge and opinions on bridges, public transit and road widening in the South County Health Center.

Route 1 is the focus of an ongoing study led by the Federal Highway Administration in cooperation with Fairfax County, the Virginia Department of Transportation and Fort Belvoir.

The objective is to find environmentally safe ways to improve traffic between Telegraph Road and Mount Vernon Memorial Highway.

FHWA officials fielded questions and updated the community on possible congestion solutions.

The study, which has been ongoing since December 2010, is scheduled to be complete next year.

Route 1 is a four to six-lane urban principal arterial. The roadway is primarily four through lanes within the study limits.

A construction project is being funded by the federal government to help reduce the congestion created by the 37,000 to 56,000 vehicles that navigate the road each day.

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran was part of a legislative group that spearheaded the passing of the Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill which includes $300 million for BRAC-related transportation mitigation efforts at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Jeff McKay, Fairfax County Supervisor, Lee District emphasized this project isn't a direct effect from the BRAC increase in personnel.

He said the area needed improvements "20 years before the BRAC was even announced."

McKay said Fairfax County will ask for $185 million from the grant to use for the project.

BRAC affected states Washington and Texas are also attempting to secure funds from the bill which may hinder the amount of money Fairfax receives.

McKay appreciates any help from the federal government, but he also said Virginia should be more involved on the state road.

"The truth is we should have never been put in this position that we're in now with gridlock on Route 1 roads that are fundamentally the states responsibility," McKay said. "The quicker we can get this done the better."

FHWA officials had several displays illustrating potential improvements to the road. Some of the ideas included an elevated bridge carrying traffic left through the intersection of Route 1 and Telegraph Road.

There were also displays showing the potential widening of the road that would include three lanes each way. The road could also have pedestrian and bicycle lanes and a lane specifically designed for a public transit vehicle.

FHWA emphasized the displays were only ideas. The finalized details will be completed after the study period.

The environment will have a big impact on how the project is eventually designed.

There are number of historic resources such as the Woodlawn Plantation and Accotink Wildlife Refuge within the study area that limit construction space.

Residents near the impacted area have raised concerns about construction near homes.

According to the comments FHWA has been collecting throughout the study, congestion is the biggest perceived issue created by the section of Route 1 being studied.

The comment's suggestions for improvements include a public transit, roadway widening and expanded area of study on Route 1.

Col. Mark Moffatt, deputy garrison commander for transformation and BRAC, said the garrison will take the information provided from the study to help new BRAC personnel learn about their commuting options.

"Carpool, vanpool, ride a mass transit bus or use alternate work schedules, whatever it takes to reduce the amount of people riding to work by themselves five days a week and 20 times a month," Moffatt said.

Moffatt also said the garrison will work with the community to help reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles traveling around the area.

This is the second public meeting FHWA has held. The first was in December 2010.

FHWA plans on conducting another public meeting before the completion of this phase of the project.

Page last updated Fri October 28th, 2011 at 14:56