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Debate over N.Va. business corridors heats up

Springfield's drab Circuit City building finally came down Thursday as Fairfax makes way for a new Park & Ride Metro lot, part of what elected officials hope spurs a revitalization for some of the more blighted areas of Springfield and the neighboring Route 1 corridor.

The 118,000-square-foot building at 7039 Old Keene Mill Road was purchased by Fairfax in March for about $4.5 million. It is located near the area known as Bob's Slug Line, which has been around for decades, according to Dr. Gridlock. The slug line will remain open from 5:45 to 9:15 a.m., the county says.

When the parking lot opens at the end of the year, it will have 270 parking spaces. A 1,000-space parking garage could also be built if money frees up. Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee), who toured the demolition site Thursday, said the parking lot "is the beginning of a lot of changes for this neighborhood."

Revitalization has been the soup du jour recently for many officials wrestling with decaying infrastructure in their respective districts. Attention has focused on McKay's Lee District, which includes the Franconia-Springfield neighborhoods and parts of Route 1; Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland's Mount Vernon District, which includes the southern part of the county stretching to Fort Belvoir on the banks of the Potomac; and Supervisor Penelope A. "Penny" Gross's Mason District, which includes the redeveloping Baileys Crossroads area.

Since the Fairfax Board of Supervisors approved an ambitious 20-year makeover of Tysons Corner last month, Northern Virginia officials have been debating the future of the region's other business corridors, namely Route 1. State Del. Scott A. Surovell and Sen. Linda Todd "Toddy" Puller, both Democrats, penned a letter to the editor in the Post that criticized the Democratically-controlled Board of Supervisors for allowing Route 1 "to languish."

"Fairfax County has more than one business corridor," the letter read. "U.S. 1 has great potential if given the right attention and enough resources. The Board of Supervisors should assemble a task force to change its planning focus to extending Metro and facilitating the long-term redevelopment of its other primary business area: the U.S. 1 corridor."

Hyland, McKay and Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) fired back a week later with their own letter, titled "Missing in Action on U.S. Route 1."

Bulova said in an interview that she was "shocked that two members of the General Assembly, from our own party, would attack what we've been doing when, in reality, the state has shirked some of its responsibility when it comes to transportation funding."

The lack of secondary road funding for localities has been one of the Fairfax board's chief gripes over the past few weeks.

McKay, in particular, said he thought that funding for Route 1 would be a "theme for the next few years" and that the redevelopment of Tysons would be "an economic driver for the entire county."

But Surovell, an attorney and former chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, said the Fairfax Democrats too the letter "too personally" and emphasized that "the fight between the older parts and newer parts of Fairfax has been going back 40 years. You'd have to be blind not to recognize that much of the new capital is flowing to north of Route 50 -- Tysons Corner, Reston, Dulles. The rest of the county needs the same type of focus and investment that Tysons is getting."

The warring Democrats say that relations are indeed frayed. "We probably should have talked to them about the letter first but I've been very very frustrated about the lack of money going to Route 1. You can't put all of your energy in just one area."

By Derek Kravitz  | July 18, 2010; 11:59 PM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz, Fairfax County, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  | Tags:  Board of Supervisors, Business, Fairfax County, Tysons Corner, development, transportation  
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