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This is an email I sent out alerting interested Loudoun residents to the revival of the Outer Beltway discussion and referencing Chamber Letter to Secretary Connaughton.

From: Jim Burton
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2011 1:39 PM
To: Jim Burton
Subject: Email Alert -- Road Planning

Dear Loudoun Resident,

I am writing to you because you have contacted me in the past regarding the Western Transportation Corridor, the Tri-County Parkway, and the widening of Routes 659 or 860. I wanted to alert you to a recent initiative which revives these debates at a State, rather than a County, level.

Earlier this year, I received a copy of a joint motion by the Loudoun and Prince William County Chambers of Commerce urging “the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to designate the Bi-County and Tri-County Parkways as Corridors of Statewide Significance” and “to ensure the protection of adequate rights of way and capacities for these corridors." A copy of this motion is posted on-line; it is the second page of the document.

What, you may ask is a Corridor of Statewide Significance (CoSS)? The VDOT definition is as follows:

“An integrated, multimodal network of transportation facilities that connect major centers of activity within and through the Commonwealth and promote the movement of people and goods essential to the economic prosperity of the state.”

More important is the fact that such corridors are determined by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) – an appointed, unelected body – and once so designated the County must insert them into its Countywide Transportation Plan. We cannot re-locate them, eliminate them, or change the number of lanes. Up until now, the Board of Supervisors has been able to respond to public concerns about these roads, which would simply alleviate Prince William County’s east-west traffic congestion by shifting it onto Route 50 or Route 7. Further, in the case of the Bi-County Parkway there is no guarantee that the CTB would not continue the corridor northwards requiring the expansion of Route 659 – an expansion only recently reduced in our CTP -- or the creation of some other North-South corridor. Clearly, such a designation would not be in the County’s best interests.

Here is a link to maps of the two roads. The original plan for the Tri-County Parkway ran from the Route 28/Route 234 interchange in Prince William County through Fairfax County into Loudoun County (just west of the South Riding community) to connect to the Loudoun County Parkway at Route 50 (Segments E, F, and F’ on the map) . The route ultimately endorsed by the CTB in 2005 was actually a Bi-County Parkway, running from Route 66 just west of Manassas Battlefield to enter Route 50 at a point somewhat west of Route 659 (Segments C and D on the map). The Chamber of Commerce Motion endorses not one, but both roads.

With the joint motion I also received a cover letter to Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton (page 1 of the posting on-line). This letter states that the Chambers’ motion has been endorsed by the Washington Airports Task Force, the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, and twleve members of the Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun County delegations to the General Assembly, including Senators Colgan, Herring, and Holtzman Vogel and Delegates May, Rust, Greason, and Lingamfelter. I wrote each member listed an email asking whether the letter accurately reflected their views and received mostly silence. I did, however, receive the courtesy of a response from Senator Mark Herring, Delegate Tag Greason, and Delegate Richard Anderson. I have provided their replies below:

  • Senator Mark Herring – “Yes.”
  • Delegate Tag Greason – His assistant responded “Delegate Greason has asked me to respond to your email inquiry regarding the Tri-County Parkway. He did support a resolution designating it as one of the Corridors of Statewide Significance.
  • Delegate Richard Anderson – “I did in fact sign the letter at the request of the Prince William Chamber, to which I belong. As I understand it, designation as a Corridor of Statewide Significance does not guarantee initiation of a project, but that it merely preserves rights-of-way to ensure that other development doesn’t preclude a project from being pursued in the future. From my perspective, it remains to be seen if these projects will be initiated, but I am comfortable in preserving the option.”

I suggested to Delegate Anderson that he might want to speak with his fellow Prince William County delegate, Bob Marshall, whose name was noticeably absent from the list. I followed up with Senator Herring and Delegate Greason’s assistant asking what were their reasons for supporting this effort and whether they also supported additional Potomac bridge crossings. I received no further information from either.

This week, the Board received a letter from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority endorsing the two roads’ designation as CoSS. I also happened to be meeting with our area representative to the CTB on another matter. He brought this subject up with me and expressed his concerns that members of the CTB were giving strong consideration to designating these roads as CoSS. He asked whether the Loudoun Board would pass a resolution expressing its opposition to such an effort. I intend to do so. However, given the Board’s narrow vote to limit the widening of Route 659, I fear the passage of any such resolution will be dependent on the level of public input they receive. I believe our delegation to the General Assembly also needs to hear from affected Loudoun residents directly and I hope you will take the time to contact them as well.

I hope this information is helpful in alerting you to the current situation

Best regards,

Jim Burton