Supervisors Take Vote on Rt. 1 Road Widening
Sept. 25 public hearing nixed for vote taken Tuesday.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the revised bypass option Tuesday for the widening of Route 1 near Fort Belvoir.
The board voted on the bypass as an action item, so it was not open for public comment. The Board of Supervisors was originally going to vote on the bypass on Sept. 25, but it was moved to Tuesday in order for the project to proceed on schedule.
The alternative bypass option proposed by the Federal Highway Administration, VDOT, Fairfax County, and the Army in August relocates the barn and indoor arena to the same side of the realigned roadway as the pastures. The alternative bypass will also avoid impact to the historic cemetery at Woodlawn Baptist Church. The bypass will widen the road in place between Telegraph Road and Belvoir Road, and realign the road between Belvoir Road and Mount Vernon Memorial Highway.
“Alternative B Revised minimized impact to historic, environmental, and cultural resources and, in addition to the benefits previously listed for Alternative B, this revised alternative ensures that the Woodlawn Stables can continue operations during and after the roadway widening and realignment,” read the board item on Sept. 11.
Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay moved to approve the revised bypass because “it’s a critically important project for unlocking the gridlock.”
“Personally I’ve spent a lot of time in that traffic, so there’s no need to convince me of the urgency of the project and it was really important we endorse it,” McKay said. “If we didn’t endorse it we could have lost the funding altogether and any hope of making the improvements. That’s why I moved approval of it. Like any project it’s not perfect, but it’s the best that could be done under circumstances.”
“If the stables goes away, it won’t be because of this road project,” McKay said. “It will be because the Historic Trust does not want an equestrian operation on the property anymore and I think a lot of folks have wrapped the two issues together and I can understand, it’s really unfortunate timing. But actually the two issues have very little to do with each other.”
“From the legal and moral perspective I feel like the FHWA did absolutely everything they could to convince the Trust that there can be an equestrian operation on the property,” McKay continued. “You can’t really as a government operation do more than that.”
Woodlawn Stables owner Cindy Mitchell expressed disappointment with the process with the Route 1 widening.
"I am sad for the future generations who will not get to experience the joy of horses and the confidence and commitment they foster in our youth as a result of the loss of Woodlawn Stables from the Mount Vernon area," Woodlawn Stables owner Cindy Mitchell said. "I have spent the last 35 years of my life at Woodlawn Stables and as a result have met the most wonderful people. These people, from all walks of life and from all periods of Woodlawn Stables' equestrian history, came out to show their support for us at the public meeting and through signing petitions and writing their elected officials; those relationships are what Woodlawn Stables are all about. This has been a tremendous Civics lesson for our youth; I am only sorry they have been disappointed by the process."
Rebeccah Ballo of Save Woodlawn Stables issued a statement crediting the county's support of an equestrian facility on the Woodlawn Stables property.
"While Save Woodlawn Stables and our supporters are disappointed in the Board of Supervisors action to support the Bypass proposal, we are heartened by the plans for a new equestrian facility and the County's support for continued equine use of the property," Ballo said.
"This decision on the road widening does not affect one narrow constituency, but all of us who use the property, support local businesses, or just are lucky enough to see a place of beauty on an otherwise terrible commute. As plans for construction go forward, we would ask the County to remember all those that came forward to support the retention of Woodlawn Stables, and work with us to preserve what will remain of this special place."
Construction is expected to begin in mid-2013 and end in 2016. Additional funding for the project is not required from Fairfax County unless the project exceeds the funding available.
FHWA and Fairfax County officials will give a presentation about the revised bypass at the Fairfax County Architectural Review Board meeting on Thursday night. The meeting is open to the public.