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The Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation approved $180 million to widen U.S. Route 1 through the Fort Belvoir area.

The expanded road hopes to help facilitate an easier commute for patients, service members and civilian employees of the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, the Department of Defense said.

“Fort Belvoir is a premier military installation with a growing importance in our defense community and the community of Fairfax County,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said. “The expansion of Route 1 will improve the quality of life for all service members and civilians serving at this key post.”

The money will come from the Office of Economic Adjustment for the Federal Highway Administration.

The funds will be used to widen – from four to six lanes – 3.5 miles of U.S. Route 1 from Telegraph Road north to Mount Vernon Memorial Highway. The project will include new bike lanes, pedestrian facilities, drainage and utility improvements.  It will also preserve a corridor for future transit needs.

“This project will create jobs, ease congestion, and improve safety and accessibility along a critical route for the area’s military personnel and others driving in Fairfax County,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “Road projects like this one are what President Obama was talking about when he called for an America built to last.”

The project will improve access to Fort Belvoir at Tully Gate and Pence Gate, which serve as the main access point to the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. The hospital receives more than 574,000 outpatients and 10,000 inpatients per year and impacts Fort Belvoir access for 23,000 military and civilian personnel in the area.