Sharon Bulova’s first home in Fairfax County was not in an ideal setting.
Bulova, who spoke Wednesday night to the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce at the Mount Vernon Country Club, recalled moving to Route 1 in 1966, when she and her husband rented an apartment for $120 per month.
“Route 1 at the time was an endless strip of cheap hotels, or motels, interrupted by car repair shops and unattractive retail uses,” said Bulova, chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “And traffic was awful, awful.
“Everything else has gotten better,” she said to a round of laughter. " ... The Richmond Highway corridor become a very, very different place from the homely strip where I lived as a newlywed in 1966."
Bulova pointed to upscale residential developments including the renovated Stony Brook apartments, the Courts at Huntington Station and the Beacon at Groveton, as well as new hotels and a new Walmart at Kings Crossing. Further development on the Walmart site will add mixed-use development in housing and retail.
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, once threatened with foreclosure, she said, is now nationally recognized for orthopedics, joint replacement and wound healing, and plans to expand its Parker Lane campus.
Additionally, BRAC has served as a catalyst for revitalization, Bulova said. The new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is triple the size of the base’s former hospital and employs 3,200 people, she said. It will serve 85,000 active-duty and retired military personnel in the region.
Bulova also cited progress in transportation projects such as the widening of Route 1 from four to six lanes north of Telegraph Road. For that project, the Federal Highway Administration is currently conducting an environmental assessment and impact study, which should be published mid-year, she said.
The FHA is also constructing a $41 million, four-lane Mulligan Road extension, slated to be completed in 2013, she said.
Bulova also said the county’s $55 million Richmond Highway Public Transportation Initiative has already resulted in 3,000 feet of additional sidewalk, the installation of four REX bus shelters and pedestrian improvements at Frye Road. The second phase of the project is scheduled to begin this summer with construction of sidewalks, bus shelters and intersection improvements at Kings Highway, as well as sidewalks from Sacramento Drive to Engleside Plaza south of Sky View Drive.
Additionally, the state’s Richmond Highway Transit Study will identify the best alternatives to improve transit in the corridor, be it heavy rail, a Metro extension, light rail, a trolley or bus rapid transit.
“A lot has changed, and there’s a lot of opportunities,” Bulova said. “The Richmond Highway corridor continues to blossom. This is an exciting area, and it’s exciting for me to come back home and for me to ride up and down the corridor that was my first home in Fairfax County, and to see such positive changes.”
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