Triangle hopesa wider Route 1 will spur development

June 11, 2012

Prince William County officials celebrated the opening last week of a $68 million infrastructure project.

The project widened Route 1 from four to six lanes between Joplin and Brady’s Hill roads, added sidewalks, raised the median and placed utilities underground. In addition to easing traffic congestion, the improvements are expected to help with the area’s persistent flooding problems.

More than that, Prince William officials hope it signifies good things to come for the area near Triangle. The county has long lamented the run-down nature of the Route 1 corridor — old strip malls and fast-food restaurants, with little else drawing the eye — and hopes the transportation improvements can help spur investment and redevelopment, Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Potomac) said.

“This is the start of making Triangle a premier community,” Caddigan said.

Officials originally started planning for the project — and, more broadly planning for the future of the corridor — in 1992, Caddigan said. She credited the county’s longtime director of transportation Tom Blaser for seeing the project through.

One thing that helped move the process along after the $370 million bond referendum in 2006, which included widening Route 1 and other infrastructure projects, was the lack of litigation from surrounding property owners, county officials said. Large projects can often come with backlash from existing businesses or property owners.

Officials successfully negotiated with each of them by offering a fair price or better, Caddigan said.

The one lament was losing the Globe and Laurel restaurant, a legendary haunt frequented by Marines that relocated to Stafford County in 2008. The restaurant featured walls and ceilings covered by military insignia and police department patches donated by loyal patrons. Caddigan said county officials gave the owner $1 million for his property.

Former Marine Maj. Richard T. Spooner, the longtime owner of Globe and Laurel, said he would have rather stayed at his old location near the Quantico Marine Corps Base.

“We were victims of eminent domain, and we would have liked to have stayed where we were, but the citizens voted on this,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be an improvement in the area,” he said of the project.

Caddigan said she hopes to shepherd in a new era for the area. She has been meeting with prospective developers but won’t accept anything that resembles what lined the old Route 1, she said.

“Everybody likes McDonald’s . . . but the big arch is out right now,” she said. “The people don’t really have anything to eat right now. That’s what I’m working on.”

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