It was Sen. Leland Stanford (R-Calif.) who, in 1887, first introduced legislation to build what we now know as a section of The George Washington Memorial Parkway to Mount Vernon. Standford, of course, was one of the Big Four of Transcontinental fame and the founder of the university that bears hi family name.

In the agonizingly normal way of business in this nation's capital, it took a time to get the road built. It wasn't until 52 years ago, in 1932, that the key link of the GW parkway -- Mount Vernon Memorial Boulevard from Alexandria to the first president's mansion -- was opened.

Now comes word from the National Capital Parks regional office of the National Park Service that the Mount Vernon segment will undergo its first major rehabilitation program, starting Monday.

The first phase, from Alexandria to Morningside Drive, will restore the four-lane parkway's concrete surface, realign parts of the road and improve safety features. Although some lanes will be closed at times, two-lane inbound traffic will be maintained in morning rush hours and two-lane outbound in the afternoon. At other times, including weekends, one lane of traffic will flow in each direction.

Major safety-related reconstruction is planned in the area of Belle Haven Boulevard, a tricky intersection serving a major apartment/retailing area and a marina. The marina's parking lot will be enlarged, part of the bicycle trail will be improved and additional wetlands will be added to the parkway side of Dyke Marsh.

The second phase of reconstruction is expected to start next fall, covering the area from Morningside Drive to Fort Hunt. The final phase will run from there to Mount Vernon.