For years, the Route 1 corridor, stretching from Alexandria through Prince William County, has been the subject of several beautification projects and a few potential revitalization plans, as well as the butt of many jokes.
But with several members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors pushing plans along, that revitalization may happen yet--someday. So far, the board members are long on plans, but short on how to execute them.
Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries) said she is dedicating her next four years in office to revitalizing Triangle and the area along Route 1 in her district.
During the past few years, Caddigan has played a significant role in pushing for revitalization along the road, including a plan to have it increased to six lanes that has been approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
But construction on the additional lanes is not slated to begin until 2020. "In Triangle, we don't have a very attractive area. So when those six lanes come in, those shabby buildings will go down," Caddigan said. "But this isn't going to happen tomorrow."
Supervisor Hilda M. Barg (D-Woodbridge) said she plans to continue working to widen, upgrade and add street lights to the Route 1 corridor that runs through her district.
She also has played a major role on the Route 1 corridor study that has analyzed the notorious road.
Barg said the county will see much of the first phase of that plan taking place this year, including the construction of the Route 1 and Route 123 interchange in Woodbridge.
The interchange project is slated to begin in the spring. The $31 million project will bring a new spurt of economic development to the depressed area, she said, essentially creating a new town center in the Woodbridge area.
"It will bring a hotel and conference center. We have a marina there, and we will have senior housing there," she said. "It just brings a lot of work opportunity to the Belmont area."
The county has long wanted a hotel and conference center in the area, but has yet to attract one.
Debi Sandlin, general manager of the Days Inn Potomac Mills and president of the Prince William Tourism Association, is looking forward to any Route 1 revitalization and said she hopes the new interchange will attract businesses to the eastern end of the county.
"If you want to bring businesses to an area, they're going to want an area that's visually appealing. If it's run down, they're going to shy away from it," she said. "I really hope the county starts to concentrate on the Route 1 corridor."
Sandlin said she thought the county had focused on Innovation, a high-tech, county-sponsored business park, to the detriment of Route 1 efforts. "The eastern side of the county has not been a priority item for the last several years, and it's time they start looking over here," she said.
The Route 1 corridor has long consisted of strip malls, run-down storefronts and restaurants, and in the case of Caddigan's district, tattoo parlors and dilapidated buildings whose landlords do not live in the area.
"My concentration for the next four years will be in that area," Caddigan said. "Triangle needs help, and I think with the buildings that are dilapidated and no one to care for them, I plan to have that taken care of."
In the past year, she has worked on a beautification plan, planting trees and flowers, and has raised money to replace a crumbling one-lane bridge off Route 1 in Triangle. "It's really enhanced that area," she said.
"The supervisors representing the areas of Route 1 have done a very good job in addressing many of the conditions on Route 1," said county board Chairman Sean Connaughton (R). "One major development is the town center at Belmont. Once that intersection, combined with a [Virginia Rail Express] station and the Belmont Bay [development] is completed, that will do a lot to bring great improvements to northern Route 1."
Barg's plan for revitalization along the road in Woodbridge echoes Caddigan's. The two supervisors have worked closely in the past few years, trying to finalize plans and secure funding for the area surrounding the route. "This is all a long-range plan. But there will be a lot of properties along Route 1 that will go, and we hope to [move the telephone] wires underground," Barg said. "There are a lot of plans in place. I look forward to moving things forward, and [we are] looking to Richmond for funding. We need to do a lot of things, but . . . the county can only do so much."
CAPTION: The construction of the Route 1 and Route 123 interchange--a $31 million project in Woodbridge--is scheduled to begin in the spring.