Think that headline’s hyperbolic? Well, first you might want to do a bit of research on the subject. For instance, I recommend this Leesburg Today article about the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors’ strong opposition to “any attempt by the Commonwealth Transportation Board to create a Northern Virginia North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance.” Translation: this would be an “outer beltway,” with “initial reports indicat[ing] it could stretch from Stafford to a Potomac River crossing into Maryland between Rt. 15 and Rt. 28.” This would be a horrible idea in so many ways it’s hard to know where to start. Here are just a few, in part based on a conversation I had with an extremely knowledgeable person who’s working to stop this thing:
1. Far from easing traffic in Loudoun County, the “outer beltway” would add tremendously to east-west traffic, producing even worse gridlock than already exists.
2. Despite the usual pro-sprawl suspects (Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance) supporting this monstrosity, this would NOT actually be good for business, other than perhaps gas stations charging $4 per gallon.
3. By having the Commonwealth Transportation Board designate this highway as a “Corridor of Statewide Significance,” it apparently would FORCE Loudoun County – despite the strong opposition of almost the entire Board of Supervisors, as well most residents of the county – to put it in their plan. In effect, the state would be running completely roughshod over Loudoun County, completely taking away local control from the people who live there.
4. The Coalition for Smarter Growth explains what this is all about (it’s truly shocking, you’ve gotta read it – on the “flip”):
At last week’s CTB meeting, the Secretary of Transportation brought up an issue not on the published agenda, asking two of the CTB members, Gary Garzynski and Doug Koelemay, if they had a resolution to offer. After describing a new highway connection that follows the route of the proposed TriCounty Parkway/Western Bypass, they said that the resolution was not quite ready yet, but that they hoped it would be by the next CTB meeting in March.
Secretary Connaughton, who used to Chair the Prince William Board of Supervisors, then said:
“You guys would never make it on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, we live for bushwhacking people.”
“The Secretary of Transportation highlighted a list of 900 projects that has been a key to winning many legislators’ support for more debt and spending. Then, off the radar screen from the legislature, the media, and the public the Secretary is maneuvering the revival and addition of one of the most controversial highways in the state,” said Schwartz. “Yes, we feel bushwhacked.”
To get some sense of the tone of the discussion, you can listen to the last few minutes meeting audio for the Feb 16th meeting (last 20 percent of the file) or review our transcription (PDF). It’s an interesting insight into how transportation decisions are being made.
I think you’ll all agree, this is utterly repulsive. Nice job, McDonnell administration (and so much for any of your rhetoric about “states rights” and “local control” — it’s all b.s.).
In the end, this is all about big-time money and wildly misguided priorities. Namely, we’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar project that the people of Loudoun County (except for crazy Eugene Delgaudio) don’t want, that will make traffic worse, that will take away local control, that will harm the environment, that will help foster sprawl and keep us addicted to oil (and funding foreign dictators and terrorist groups, of course), etc., etc. Who in their right mind would even think about building something like this? Bob McDonnell’s administration, apparently…ugh.