Hank Silverberg, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - America's oldest highway is getting a big facelift. The relocation of thousands of military personnel to Fort Belvoir is beginning to spur the predicted economic development along historic Route 1.
There's already been a spike in hotel occupancy along the corridor in Fairfax County, now that the new hospital is open on base.
Business related to the hospital and other defense contractors are locking up office space.
Fairfax County Economic Director Gerry Gordon says the economic spurt been about as fast as they could have expected.
"We're just now starting to see a lot of interest in taking on that land and starting to see some construction," Gordon says.
Thousands of new workers have already had an impact on local traffic as predicted, but Gordon says that has only increased interest in the Route 1 corridor.
"You have an opportunity to reduce commute times," he says. "You have an opportunity to get people from the base to the office space more easily."
It's expected that the "Wounded Warrior" facility associated with the hospital will increase the demand for overnight accommodations.
Tony Fontana, marketing director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation says at least one new hotel chain is planning to build. And he says the housing market along the corridor is booming.
"As you move up the corridor toward the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, we have pockets of new residential development going from market rate apartments to single family homes," he says.
Fairfax County has already stepped up tourism promotion on the "Historic Triangle" around Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall and the Woodlawn Plantation in anticipation of the new National Army Museum which will be built on land within Fort Belvoir right near Route 1.
Mount Vernon alone draws about a million tourists a year.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)