I live in the southern end of Mount Vernon District and many times head south to Prince William County for Costco or other shopping. A change of scenery is welcomed since I travel Rt. 1 North to work every day. This is what I noticed.
Prince William County is also in the midst of a Route 1 widening project. What is apparent as you head south is the disappearance of power lines. It is quite striking and certainly has tremendous aesthetic appeal. I have heard repeatedly from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the power companies that it is just not financially feasible to underground utilities as part of our Rt. 1 widening from Lorton to Alexandria.
Not so fast. Think about the storms, downed trees and loss of power. I can remember many times when power companies have been called from other states to help restore power in this area. Now that had to cost a pretty penny. What about right of way maintenance; it seems trimming trees is a 365 day project for the power companies and they can never be ahead of the game. Consider the reduction of line restoration costs and line loss. What about safety issues. Did you know that 17% of highway deaths involve utility poles!
Those who know me would raise their eyebrows at this next premise, but there are some things I am willing to pay for and I think underground utilities is one of them. It would be worth the effort to study the public interest in a one-time charge to help offset the cost of this project. I cannot think of one other single factor that would improve the look of Rt. 1 more than removing unsightly utility lines.
As Supervisor Storck continues to advocate for his “Historic Cultural Corridor” based on the ample supply of historic offerings in our area, plus more to come (the US Army Museum), it would be wise to consider the impact of unsightly power lines. If Prince William County can figure it out, why can’t Fairfax County?