The Washington Times - November 1, 2011, 02:23PM

Virginia has secured $180 million from the Defense Department to widen Route 1 near Fort Belvoir to help mitigate traffic congestion associated with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), officials announced Tuesday.

Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, as well as Reps. Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly, all Democrats, made the announcement, which marks a contract award from a $300 million appropriation secured last year by Mr. Moran, as well as Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat.

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The $180 million — $30 more than originally anticipated — will go toward widening Route 1 near Ft. Belvoir’s Main Post from Telegraph Road to Mulligan Road to accommodate the more than 11,000 new Department of Defense employees and 574,000 hospital patients that will visit Fort Belvoir’s new community hospital.

Mr. Webb described the project as “a tribute to Congressman Moran’s persistence,” calling the investment “critical” to help mitigate traffic congestion in the wake of the BRAC process.

Construction will start after an environmental assessment that Fairfax County has already been conducting. Among others, Mr. Moran thanked Mr. Warner and Mr. Webb for helping get the measure through the U.S. Senate, as well as Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisors Jeff McKay and Gerry Hyland, all Democrats, “for hitting the ground running on a project that means so much for the corridor.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, also hailed Mr. Moran, as well as the Northern Virginia congressional delegation, for their efforts, saying that “widening Route 1 is critical to ensuring a viable transportation network in the Fort Belvoir area.”

Mr. Warner also lauded State Sen. Linda “Toddy” Puller, Fairfax Democrat, who in 1994 helped initiate the study laying the groundwork for the widening of Route 1 from Prince William to Alexandria, and who also patroned the Route 1 Transit Study during the 2011 General Assembly session that intends to help revitalize the entire corridor in Fairfax and Prince William down to Quantico.

The state Department of Transportation and Fairfax County submitted applications earlier this year to request funding to accommodate the increased traffic generated by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process and the new Fort Belvoir Community hospital.

VDOT has already allocated more than $400 million to improve the roads serving Fort Belvoir’s main post, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and the Mark Center in Alexandria, which includes already-completed work on the Fairfax County Parkway and an HOV/bus ramp from I-395 to Seminary Road for the Mark Center, with construction on that project anticipated to begin in 2013.

In Maryland, Mr. Van Hollen and Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, both Democrats, announced that the Department of Defense would provide $88.9 million of the $90 million the State of Maryland and Montgomery County requested for traffic mitigation around the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

BRAC relocation sites in Texas and Washington also received funding.