Friday, May 24, 2024
Three big projects will transform Lee District

Three big projects will transform Franconia District

Three big future developments will transform Franconia District, VA, over the next decade. First, the Richmond Highway Corridor Technology Accelerator and Co-Working Center. Second, the Richmond Highway Corridor Transportation Improvement Program. Third, the Franconia/ Springfield Inova Hospital project.

Franconia District

Our district, one of nine in Fairfax County, has a population of 123,692 people. Half of us, (50.7%) are female and 49.3% are male. A quarter of us are children under the age of 20 years and 11.7% of us are seniors, aged 65 years or older. Half of us (50.7%) are white, while the other half (49.3%) comprises all other races and ethnicities including 21.5% black, 30.3% Hispanic, and 17.4% Asian. Forty-five percent of us speak a language other than English at home but of those, half also speak English very well.

About 47% of us have a college or graduate degree, 74.6% of women 20-64 years old are employed and 87.5% of men of the same age range are employed. Our owned-housing median market value is $452,445 for a median-sized 1,387 square foot dwelling, and 62% of us live in a townhouse or single-family detached home. For additional Lee District stats see the Quality of Life section of this site.

Our needs

Among our district’s needs are greater job growth and economic and educational opportunity, a transportation system that allows us to reduce our average commute time which now nears half an hour one way, and it would be helpful if we had a dedicated hospital in our area. Fortunately, there are three projects in the works that may well address these needs.

Richmond Highway Corridor Technology Accelerator and Co-Working Center

The southeastern part of Fairfax County has lagged behind the rest of the county economically. One of the first proposals put forth to the county Board of Supervisors by newly elected Lee District Supervisor, Rodney Lusk, was the Richmond Highway Corridor Technology Accelerator and Co-Working Center. In Mr. Lusk’s words:

Such a facility would be the perfect catalyst for bringing the initial outside investment necessary to break the cycle of stagnant commercial development, and largely undiversified employment options for those living in the Route One area. Dissimilar to other such investments the County has previously made, such as Refraction, the project that I am proposing would be a public-private partnership focused on the development and demonstration of emerging technology, providing both a makers space, as well as a coworking component designed to accelerate government contractors and entrepreneurs in emerging technology sectors.

As tenants’ operations expand, add employees, and eventually outgrow the space, we would work with our partners at the Economic Development Authority to place them into existing or new spaces along the Corridor, or other strategic locations in Fairfax County. Parallel to the clear economic development benefits, an equally important component is the educational and workforce development opportunities that will emerge for neighboring communities. The ability for our FCPS students, as well as graduates at various points in their post-secondary education to access apprenticeships and other training and employment opportunities would be significant. The same is true for the underemployed residents of the Corridor who often must work multiple retail and service industry jobs simply to make ends meet.

The project is still in its infancy, but research is moving forward to make this effort distinctive by attracting a broad spectrum of emerging technologies and a work-sharing facility where the incubation of new innovations and the mentoring and apprenticeship of students go hand in hand.

Richmond Highway Corridor Transportation Improvement Program

This $372-million-project has been several years in the making, and it aims to reduce congestion and help increase the area’s multimodal transportation options. The concept is to improve a three-mile area running from Jeff Todd Way to Sherwood Hall Lane. The two-phase project will begin with part one comprising the stretch from Jeff Todd Way to Frye Road and from there phase two will complete the project by extending improvements to Sherwood Hall Lane.

Phase one improvements include widening about 1.5 miles of Richmond Highway from four to six lanes, adding two-way cycle tracks and sidewalks on both sides of the road, setting aside a median strip to a accommodate the county’s future dedicated bus-only lanes, improving intersections at critical junctures and replacing the bridges over Dogue Creek and its North Fork.

Phase two improvements include the same widening from four to six lanes, and the bike tracks and pedestrian sidewalks, intersection fixes and the realignment of Buckman Road to align with Mohawk Lane, and the replacement of the bridge over Little Hunting Creek.

The project is still pending complete funding but assuming it is obtained shortly it could begin construction in 2025 with a four-year completion target.

Franconia/Springfield Inova Hospital project.

Inova Health System is planning to expand into our district with a new hospital to be built on the parking lot adjacent to the current Springfield HealthPlex on Walker Lane. Despite the effects of Covid-19, Inova CEO J. Stephen Jones, said “[We will continue] moving forward…to expand access to care for the communities we are proud to serve.”

Though still in the planning stages and expecting the normal regulatory and construction processes to take several years, the health system could not confirm a size, bed capacity or specific services at this time. It is expected, though, that there will be an integration plan with the existing Alexandria and Mount Vernon hospitals to ensure services are both comprehensive and complementary. Similarly, an additional HealthPlex in Alexandria’s Oakville Triangle is planned which will also support and complement the existing services nearby.

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