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Major improvements possible for U.S. 1 in Fairfax, Prince William

Tuesday - 6/11/2013, 7:22am  ET

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Money freed up by the Virginia General Assembly could mean big improvements for U.S. 1. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

LORTON, Va. - One of America's oldest highways and a primary commuter route in Northern Virginia could get a major face-lift.

The state plans to look at Bus Rapid Transit, extending Metrorail, streetcars and even bike lanes along the heavily traveled U.S. 1 corridor in Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton says a 12-month study also will look at the impact of growing residential development now that the state has hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation money.

The funding has increased the likelihood that improvements will be made and is available thanks to a transportation package passed by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year.

"That corridor, which in many ways is the forgotten corridor in Northern Virginia, is actually seeing a lot of investment because of what's happening at Fort Belvoir," said Connaughton.

He said relatively affordable housing costs have increased the demand for housing in an area that has consisted of strip malls and vacant buildings for years.

A new hospital at Fort Belvoir and the expansion of facilities at the nearby Marine Corps Base Quantico also are increasing traffic.

Virginia Railway Express, which serves the corridor, already has expanded and plans to add service as far south as Spotsylvania County.

The original Metrorail plans from the 1970s included extending the subway system as far as Woodbridge. Connaughton said light rail -- streetcars -- may be another option.

Connaughton said changes ideally would occur all along the corridor, though he said the historic nature of Alexandria could make changes that far north more difficult.

The study, which will look at commuting habits and demand for mass transit, will involve public input and coordination with local governments.

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