Fairfax County Route 1 widening plan draws opposition

An Alexandria high school cafeteria served as the backdrop for a meeting pitting the future of Fairfax County against that of a well-known horse farm.

Supporters and opponents gathered to discuss a plan to widen Route 1 in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.

Federal highway officials are tying to figure out the best wary to widen the stretch of road without harming three community icons; a beloved horse stable, a historic home and a sacred resting place.

Those fighting for the stables say the proposal would ruin business at Woodlawn Stables. The lush meadow off Route 1 in Alexandria, once owned by George Washington, has remained unchanged for more than 200 years.

Riding instructor Laura Wainwright fears what some are calling progress could lead to the stable's demise.

"We can't let this happen. This is wrong," Wainwright exclaims.

George Washington gifted the property on the other side of the road to relatives. It's called Woodlawn Plantation, and it's a national historic landmark.

One plan for road widening would force a local church to relocate nearly 180 remains from its cemetery. That same plan would encroach on the plantation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation owns both Woodlawn Plantation and Woodlawn Stables. The trust supports a second option, which would build a bypass that skirts the cemetery, misses the mansion and effectively shuts down the stables.

"What is tragic is just paving over this land for anything," Autumn Clayton says. Clayton helped launch a grassroots campaign called "Save Woodlawn Stables".

Clayton's organization backs a plan that would widen Route 1 in one place. They say this option will cause minimal damage to both properties while saving a place they believe deserves just as much protection as its stately neighbor.

Given all the strong feelings surrounding the plan, federal officials are being pressured to come up with a third option that allows progress to sit comfortably with cherished past.

Federal highway officials are expected to make a decision on the given options in the next four to six weeks.

Construction is expected to begin in 2015.