Bi-County Parkway, R.I.P.


Debate over the north-south Bi-County Parkway between Prince William and Loudoun Counties roiled the closing months of the McDonnell administration. Today, plans for that highway, which would have skirted by the Manassas Battlefield, is about as dead as a transportation project can be.

As Inside NoVa, writes, the parkway existed for thirty years as only a line on local and regional transportation planning maps. Now that line is being erased. The Prince William Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to remove it from the county’s long-range comprehensive plan. (The decision still must be approved by the Board of Supervisors, and the road still exists on regional planning maps.)

Real estate interests had promoted the parkway as a way to open up new territory for more intensive residential development and as a spur to the air freight business at Washington Dulles International Airport. Foes argued that the money would be better spent addressing congestion on Northern Virginia’s overloaded transportation arteries, including Interstate 66.

The McAuliffe administration bought the foes’ logic, effectively abandoning the Bi-County Parkway and proposing a massive upgrade, complete with HOT lanes and commuter buses, of I-66. That project, too, has become highly controversial. Thus, one lightning-rod proposal has supplanted another lightning-rod proposal. Whatever its flaws, the I-66 proposal at least addresses problems that exist in the here and now, not some theoretical need that might materialize in the future.


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25 responses to “Bi-County Parkway, R.I.P.”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    You can blame it all on HB2 which now requires each project to get scored and compete against other projects.

    You ought to do a post on HB2 – and how that process produced the list of project that will be built – and the ones that will not.

    It effectively cuts the real estate developers out of the process…

  2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    A very happy day. The Bi-County Parkway always was a targeted scheme by landowners who were unable to get the rezonings desired to make their speculative land purchases developable. They wanted taxpayer subsidies, plain and simple.

    As JAB writes, “Real estate interests had promoted the parkway as a way to open up new territory for more intensive residential development and as a spur to the air freight business at Washington Dulles International Airport.”

    Yet, never were the landowners willing to enter into a PPP or propose a tax district to help pay for the Road’s costs. Similarly, none of the Dulles-based airfreight companies were part of the coalition to support the Road. Those facts were always quite telling to me.

    I think Larry has made a good suggestion – post on the operations and impact of HB2. I know a number of developers and smart growthers hate it with a passion. That’s probably a good sign the law makes some sense for the rest of us.

  3. @LarrytheG

    Speaking of HB2, it is interesting that the “Northstar Boulevard” project which would directly connect into the Bi-County Parkway in Loundon County received the third highest congestion ranking in the state behind (I-66 and I-64). The analysis assumes, the Bi-County parkway will exist because it is in the MWCOG CLRP.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      that’s FUNNY!! but I thought a project could not exist as a project if it did not have independent utility. no?

      does it not connect at either end?

    2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      mcs – I’m confused. The document you linked ranked Northstar Blvd as 99/287 for HB2 cost and 108/287 for total cost, with a benefit of 16.3. Is the 16.3 the third highest in the state? Where can one find that?


      1. @TooManyTaxes
        I was referring to the “Congestion Mitigation” sub category which receives the largest “weighting” in the NOVA district. It received the 7th highest total “benefit” in the state.

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          mcs – thanks much for the additional information. It was very helpful.

  4. Charlie Grymes Avatar
    Charlie Grymes

    Too soon to count the chickens.

    Because CTB created North-South Corridor, Bi-County Parkway could be funded outside the HB2 ranking process – and even if Prince William removes the road from Comp Plan, VDOT could still build it.

    Obviously, CTB would have political difficulty directing scarce transportation $$$ to a road not supported by local government. That may be why Prince William County officials have slow-walked the removal of the road from the Comp Plan.

    Supervisors have not scheduled any vote on Planning Commission proposal. The Bi-County Parkway is still in the Comp Plan.

    If the pro-road county officials can delay action until after CTB meeting on next Six Year Improvement Plan – hey, when CTB votes, there’s been no final local action to delete the Bi-County Parkway.

    Is this overly suspicious? Remember, road was added by a CTB with Transportation Secretary who previously had been chair of Prince William Board of County Supervisors. He chided CTB’s delay in approval, saying “You guys would never make it on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors; we live for bushwhacking people.”

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Good points.

      Several years ago, VDOT had planned to create a two-lane-wide left turn lane from Route 7 onto the Georgetown Pike. It had the support of 9 of 10 Fairfax County supervisors. But there was strong opposition from residents of Reston, McLean and, especially, Great Falls. State legislators from both parties rallied around the citizens and Supervisor Foust persuaded the BoS to reverse its support. VDOT, in turn, removed the project as proposed due to local government opposition.

      VDOT then created a citizens advisory board to look at Route 7 from Tysons to where it becomes 6 lanes nearer to the Loudoun County line. I suspect that, in the event, the Prince William BoS agrees with the Planning Commission, VDOT may well deactivate the Bi-County Parkway; seek its removal from the CLRP; and put its money elsewhere. But key is what the BoS does.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        the CTB does still retain the right to override the HB2 – as does VDOT –

        but it’s no small feat to do now with the presence of the list of approved HB2 projects – basically it means in order to do that – that other projects that scored well will have to be removed.

        you can bet if that is done -the locality with the removed project is going to be heard… as well as all other localities with projects that got jumped over.

        it won’t be near as easy…

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    Also a fella down Hampton way named Wagner in the GA has proposed INCREASING the gas tax while it’s LOW and decreasing it when expensive – – as a way to increase funding so that tolls are not necessary.

    Of course such a proposal just totally blew up some of the less brainy legislators in the GA who said they needed to “study” it for another year – essentially kicking the can down the road to when gas prices might go up again.

    make no mistake – tolls are also part of the landscape these days.

    two ways to increase the scoring of projects on HB2 is PPTA tolling and adding local money …

    and of course down our way the local conspiracy theorists say that NoVa skunked us on the HB2 process with I-66 and so we got screwed out of projects we needed…

    they say .. “politics” was involved – I was shocked SHOCKED!!!

    HB2 was never promised to be free of politics – it was promised to be more transparent so one could see when politics was in play!

    of course at the same time the conspiracy theory folks down our way had their hair on fire – folks up in NoVa also seem to be having the same hair-burning issues until a compromise was reached.

    imagine that… a compromise.. what is that in today’s politics?

    must be an evil scheme,, eh?

    1. Believe Wagner’s proposal was fiddling with the 2% local gaso tax in Hampton Roads. I also feel increasing local the NoVA local gaso tax might be good idea to riase revenues.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        yep – can do with voter referenda… if concerns

        let locality decide own fate, choose own projects. keep money.

  6. I am lost. Every time I read a conservative Virginia blog I hear that Bob McDonnell pushed through the “biggest tax hike in Virginia history”. Needless to say, the conservatives don’t think this was a good idea. However, there is complete agreement that it did (in fact) happen. The additional funds were meant to be used for transportation. However, all I ever read is that transportation projects are being canceled or tolls are being recommended to pay for transportation projects. Let’s see … Rt 29 bypass – canceled, Rt 460 redo – canceled, bi-county-parkway – canceled, Rt 66 – implement tolls on the existing roads and maybe widen the road someday.

    So, the taxes have been raised and the transportations projects are being canceled or funded with tolls? What are the asshats in the General Assembly doing with the money collected from “the largest tax hike in Virginia history”?

    It’s getting more and more frustrating to live in America’s most corrupt state.

    1. Well, Don, I did assume that most of those transportation dollars were intended to find their way into Southside projects like US460, but as you say, that’s cancelled. That current HB2 funding list would be kinda interesting followup for today’s discussion. Meanwhile, whatever happened to the need for better truck access to Dulles Airport, and what will the absence of that do to the financial health of the Airports Authority?

      Ahah, mcs already provided a link, below!

      1. @Acbar
        Dulles will be ok. It is getting a $5 Billion heavy rail line and being subsided by Reagan National.

        “MWAA announced a new use and lease agreement in November that will, for the first time, allow revenue sharing between the two airports. As much as $300 million in revenue could be shifted from Reagan National to offset operating costs at Dulles over 10 years.”

  7. @DonR

    Below is a link to the NOVA projects that were funded by the tax increase (NVTA).

    The rest of the tax increase was to help maintain the crumbling roads we already have.

    1. This is fascinating stuff. Is there a high level tabulation showing what slice NVTA got out of the Statewide package and roughly where the rest of it went Statewide?

  8. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    You guys above from Don on down are onto a very hot topic.

    Suddenly nothing can be built in Northern Virginia without huge tolls despite the states recent huge tax increase for transportation!

    Is that why tolls are so essential?

    No! The real purpose of tolls is to control, regulate, and soak the everyday working stiff who’s trying to feed and raise his family.

    Tolls are the coercive tool that the Fairfax county business community, or those who control it, will soon use as a hammer to change the lifestyle of the average commuter to push him into mass transit or off the roads so that the FAT CATs are free to get around northern Virginia driving solo as fast and whenever and wherever they want to go, while most everybody else either goes broke, never sees their family, and/or rides the Bus.

    Remember the Golden Rule of getting rich in real estate development and land speculation is that the boss of the end user of your product has to be able to get to and from his place of work quickly and conveniently, whether it be back and forth to his home, his golf game, or watching his kids play soccer, or seeing a client or having a client come to him. Take away easy convenience from the boss and he will move somewhere else. Find ways to give the decision makers that convenience, and real estate speculators and developers keep getting richer, building more and more things creating more and more traffic as far as the eye can see.

    So now they have come up with yet another short term fix called a false solution because absent far greater change it guarantee ever more traffic to keep the scheme afloat, while lining the pockets of a few.

    In short:

    Only Tolls now will keep the bosses happy so they keep renting more space along I-66 in Northern Virginia, while his workers pay through nose and/or have their quality of life and that of their families ruined. Meanwhile the Fat Cats of local business, the real estate speculators and the real estate developers keep on buildings every more buildings up and down I-66, funded by the poor working stiff who will find it ever harder and more expensive, and more time consuming and inconvenient, to get to work to earn a decent living.

    In short Tolls will fix nothing, only make things worse. What is needed is a far more comprehensive solution that solves the problem (eats traffic), and treats citizens who must travel through or in Northern Virginia fairly, instead of milking them and their families every day like cows.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      To begin to understand more deeply what is going on with regard to the dynamic tolls that will drive the costs of people’s commutes sky high, one needs to better understand the Exxon site deal allegedly involving two of Fairfax County’s so called “Non-Profits” – Inova Hospital system and George Mason University – and its hidden financiers, the Virginia taxpayer, and everyone else in America who tries to drive thought Fairfax Country or anywhere near it or indeed anywhere near Northern Virginia.

      So what is happening here? One must read carefully between the lines to get a sense, a whiff of the deal, or the likely deal, because nothing is ever clear in Fairfax County governance, including who runs the place.

      Best what one can sense is this:

      Fairfax County tells us that the Exxon site is worth $200, 000, 000. We are also told that like most everything else in Fairfax County, the Exxon site is one of the premier sites in the Entire World, World Class all the way. That is why Fairfax County acts like its own nation.

      Then Fairfax County’s World Class Non-Profit INOVA chimes in that it has $200, 000,000 in liquid cash on hand, and its gonna “buy” (here folks, things begin to get very vague because you might begin to sense a Con job is coming on) the Exxon Site.

      Then suddenly Virginia’s governor joins the circus act saying the State of Virginia is going to do what he said a few months earlier he should never do: he is going to spend $16,000, 000 of Virginia tax payer money to sweeten the grand deal to get the Fairfax County’s two World Class Non-Profits to do something they apparently otherwise refuse to do, something still quite vague with the Exxon site at one end of I-66 and George Mason’s Tech site at the other end of I-66 in Prince William, a deal that Fairfax County claims will Jump-start a massive “World Class life Changing real estate high tech development play”, a Renaissance of new real estate development, at both ends and everywhere along one the most congested roads in America, all centered on two or likely more of the most congested intersections in America.

      And of course it now appears that the Exxon site’s been for sale for years, and problem it’s near impossible to get to for most people most of the day, as is more every parcel along 1-66 or the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia, most particularly Fairfax County who had designated Merrifield, the Exxon sites immediate neighbor to a vast redevelopment zone, surely chock full by now of rampant land speculation waiting to cash out.

      So who is gonna keep this scam going as long as the citizens’ rulers in Fairfax County can stay at the table? Why the average guy or gal trying to drive through or near Fairfax County, of course.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    tolls are to manage congestion…encourage HOV, simple as that… no conspiracy – they’re pretty open about it.

    the HB2 is a new process with some warts.. we’ll see if they prune it better or ding it up…

    I note that I-95 bridges over the Rappahannock – the southbound made the cut -the northbound did not – that’s fairly precise… the southbound has more weekend peak hour and 18 wheelers from I-81 south to I-64 on it apparently.

    they anticipate the northbound to gain points in the next or subsequent round.

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    fundamentally – at the core – some kind of process that seeks to standardize metrics , define what performance parameters are desired and ranks all projects on the same basis – is a very good step forward.

    it’s not without some issues and risk.

    and politics can still be involved.

    and it will never satisfy the anti-tax, anti-toll conspiracy theory crowd.

    but I think it’s a good step forward

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