Residents Voice Opposition to Route 1 Widening Plans

Community members stated their concerns about current Route 1 widening plans at a public hearing.

Save Woodlawn Stables supporters clad in blue T-shirts Tuesday night voiced their opposition of Route 1 widening options that would impact the future of the equestrian facility as well as nearby historic buildings.

Hundreds of residents filled the cafeteria for a public hearing hosted by the Federal Highway Administration. The FHWA

Three widening options were discussed at the hearing: a no-build option, a southeast bypass option, and a widen-in-place option. The southeast bypass option could jeopardize the operation of Woodlawn Stables, Woodlawn Baptist Church, and other historic sites.

Jack Van Dop of the FHWA updated residents about current plans and moderated questions and comments from concerned residents.

“We have not decided anything,” Van Dop emphasized.

Local legislators have voiced their support of the widen-in-place option. State Sen. Linda “Toddy” Puller (D-36th), Del. Scott Surovell (D-44th), Mark Sickles (D-43rd), Adam Ebbin (D-30th) signed a letter with their support of that option to the FHWA and Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Gregory Whirley.

“We likewise agree with Congressman Moran and Supervisor Hyland that the Widen-In-Place Option best preserves the historic character of the Woodlawn community, preserves the existing uses of this historic area, and can be done in a manner to most minimize harm to our community’s historic assets,” the letter states.

Woodlawn Stables co-owner Cindy Mitchell said she was “overwhelmed” by the amount of community support, especially from her students.

“This is the most important civics lesson these kids are going to get, and it’s something they really care about,” said Mitchell, who attended the hearing with her mother, Joan.

“I would not be who I am without [Woodlawn Stables],” remarked one supporter, whose statement was met with raucous applause.

Alexandria resident Eric Martin attended the meeting to hear what the FHWA had to say about the widening.

“Well, I live right near there, so I’m pretty concerned…going through the stables seems wrong,” said Martin, whose wife rides at Woodlawn Stables. “It seems like a gentle widening seems better than a whole new bypass.”

volunteers Autumn Clayton and Rebeccah Ballo worked hard to spread the word about the public hearing. The group's online petition has hit more than 5,000 signatures over the last two months.

“The turnout is fantastic,” Clayton said. “We’ve worked very, very hard over the last month to make sure that people knew that this information meeting was happening and to make sure that they knew that it was important to come out and make their voices heard.”

“We were expecting a nice crowd,” Ballo added. “But I think this is beyond my expectations and we’re really proud to see all our supporters face-to-face.”

Woodlawn Baptist Church pastor Travis Hilton said that the FHWA has been proposing widening of Route 1 since 1965. The church has records dating back to that time.

“They kept this going all over our head, and in recent years, their proposal has been different proposals,” Hilton said. “We’ve been listening to them, what they’ve wanted and so forth for an extended period of time.”

The FHWA is proposing to exhume at least 100 graves in the cemetery, Hilton told Patch. He explained that the church would lose both property and square footage.

“It’s not a matter of support, it’s a matter of how are they going to respect our property and our cemetery,” Hilton said. “We don’t want any of that to be lost for us as we are part of this community. We have generations that have been raised in our church, and generations who have buried loved ones in the cemetery.”

Save Woodlawn Stables acknowledges that current widening plans will have a huge impact on historic land.

“I think it’s important for everybody to understand this is not simply about saving an equestrian facility. This is sacred land that we’re talking about, and this shouldn’t be happening,” Clayton said. “And a place like the National Trust for Historic Preservation shouldn’t allow it to happen.”

The deadline for public comment submissions has been extended to July 6. For more information, visit the FHWA website.

Sally Spangler June 07, 2012 at 05:12 PM
"A raised highway with drainage ponds and sound barriers" -?!!! Gee a job for the next two years if not more. And what would this magnificant piece of highway connect to? Surely not to down ramps into Fort Belvoir! The cost to the taxpayers will be on the order of paying off the National Debt. I think Virginia is the same as the rest of the United States - in a RECESSION of some depth! Has anyone talked about - discussed the price with continued years inflation? Whatever the proposed cost will grow larger each year it is not finished. The work and materials will add a good 40% to the original cost as stated on any contract. Note, US95 is not complete in Springfield, VA, nor is the Fairfax County Parkway. Repaving that road is on somebody's agenda - I think for this year! The end of the parkway nearest Leesburg is still more or less in the rough. DREAMS are not REAL - DREAMS are expensive. DREAMS are only do-able if the CASH is there to pay for the dream! WAKE UP VDOT! WAKE UP GOVERNOR of VIRGINIA What the National Trust owes and what it provides are two very different things.
Sally Spangler June 07, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Thank you Doug - glad to hear there is something still living despite the continued messes and trash along Accotink Creek. Sally
Ron Fitzsimmons June 07, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Re a comment up above, I know for a fact that Susan Hellman is not allowed to speak publicly about this issue. Everything has to come from corporate...i
PennyP June 07, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Ron, that makes a lot of sense. but after this meeting NTHP should be put on notice that they aree going to have to have a better response to the community. They are on the wrong side of an important historic preservation issue in their own backyard. They might be able to ignore this near one of their other properties, but not here, not in Washington, DC. That one weak sound bite aside on Tuesday, their silence is deafening.
Cynthia Mitchell June 08, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Thank you Ron, I was not aware of that. How sad.


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