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Debate Over Route One Improvement: History Vs. Progress | News

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Debate Over Route One Improvement: History Vs. Progress
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) -- Preserve the past or make room for the future? That's the debate surrounding the controversial Route One Improvement Plan in Fairfax County, and the current proposals put several historic properties in the crosshairs.

Laura Wainwright has been riding at the Woodlawn Stables for the last 40 years, but it's been here for 150 years. Before that, it belonged to George Washington.

"The fact that we live on land that George Washington owned is a big deal around here," said Wainwright, co-founder of Save Woodlawn Stables. "This community really hasn't changed in the 40 years that I've lived here. And I think that now, with what's going on, that way of life is being threatened for us."

Woodlawn Stables sits right on Route One in Alexandria' the main road to and from Fort Belvoir. The county has been trying to expand it for years, but it to took a major influx of military personnel commuting to Fort Belvoir for federal funds to finally be freed up. Specifically, $180 million from the Department of Defense. It could be a godsend for commuters, but Wainwright says, "It would destroy the stables."

The Federal Highway Administration is currently considering two options: build a bypass that would cut through Woodlawn Stables or widen-in-place. The latter option would simply expand the lanes that are already there, but it would also create a whole new set of concerns.

Just next door to the stables is the Woodlawn Baptist Church, and right next to Route 1 are tombstones that date back to the 1800s. More than a hundred would have to be exhumed if the plan to widen roadway is approved. So what should the Federal Highway Administration do? Destroy whats living or disturb the dead? Wainwright says neither.

"We'd like to see them go back to the drawing board on this and come up with a better solution. We know that that there is one and we know that they can find it," said Wainright.

The Federal Highway Administration says its still considering all options. Click here for more information on how to submit your opinions and suggestions.

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