PW Supervisors Delay Endorsement of Bi-County Parkway

Traffic back-up on two-lane Sudley Road near the Stone House in Manassas battlefield park.

Traffic back-up on two-lane Sudley Road near the Stone House in Manassas battlefield park.

So much news today, I can’t keep up! … The Bi-County Parkway, the key missing link in the proposed North-South Corridor, took another hit yesterday when the Prince William County Board of Supervisors delayed a vote to reaffirm its support for the project.

The issue has pit Republican vs. Republican. PW Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart blasted legislators who oppose the road, saying that they need to propose their own solutions. “Everyone who is opposed to the road and not offering an alternative is a coward,” he said, as reported by the Washington Post.

Six Northern Virginia delegates, all Republican, had previously denounced the proposed highway, which would cut along the edge of the Manassas National Battlefield Park and potentially open up western Prince William to development.

The business wing of the Republican Party, including Stewart and Governor Bob McDonnell, tout the North-South Corridor as an economic boon to Washington Dulles International Airport. But the populist wing, including legislators representing the affected districts,  sides with local residents who worry about the impact on their way of life. Del. Bob Marshal, R-Manassas, and others have argued that the $1 billion-or-more cost of developing the North-South Corridor should be reallocated to eliminate current traffic bottlenecks, not to alleviate anticipated future growth that may or may not occur.

— JAB

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14 responses to “PW Supervisors Delay Endorsement of Bi-County Parkway

  1. If we cannot build our way out of congestion, can we dynamically toll our way out?

    How popular would the North/South road be if it were required to be totally paid for, construction, operations and maintenance by tolls – like the CBBT is?

    If a new road starts out as a toll road – how does that affect new land development along it? I think it affects it.

    • Ask people who bought homes along the Dulles Greenway corridor (Ashburn etc.) whether the Greenway tolls were a factor in deciding to move nearly to Leesburg. So, you commit to pay $1000 or so annually for tolls ($5/day x 200); in exchange, you get to work and back again at expressway speed and your family gets to live in a large single family home in a safe neighborhood with decent schools for a $400K versus a $700K mortgage (with Loudoun versus Fairfax r.e. taxes for good measure): financially that choice is a no-brainer. No, tolls are not going to deter such projects or change the planning consequences.

      What I see in the P.W. debate is not about smart growth but inter-county revenue rivalry. Could it be that P.W. is reluctant to facilitate yet more bedroom communities and schools for the Dulles tech corridor whose employers pay taxes only in Fairfax and Loudoun? And yes, to bring more trucks from the south to Dulles Airport only to benefit the MWAA? Sounds reminiscent of Montgomery County, MD’ s reaction to extending (an earlier incarnation of) this same road across the Potomac to Gaithersburg.

  2. Perhaps the up coming decision on the “By-County Parkway” is the pivotal decision that will define the future of Northern Virginia and its historic Piedmont region for the next hundred years as well.

    Perhaps this is why its proponents have pushed so hard for a quick decision, risen up as it were, to push their plans so far so fast with so little clarity or reliable information as to the road’s purpose, its consequences, and its cost.

    Perhaps, too, this is why so much quiet and careful preparation has gone into this proposal, using “experts” from Virginia Universities to compile data that appears to have been spun up for result rather to provide the information on which to make sound and informed judgements. This has not been the first time. Recall the original Tyson’s Corner Task Force Report, that sales brochure of pretty pictures and platitudes riding in the disguise of a serious report. Here we go again, the road will reduce traffic.

    Perhaps too, this is why this mammoth project has so many confusing names depending on what’s be pushed and sold at the moment. “The Circumferential North South Highway”, “The North South Transportation Corridor”, “The North South Connector”, “The Bi-County Parkway”.

    One oddity about all these fancy names is how misleading they are. The road being proposed does not connect to anything. It goes nowhere. It’s not a circumferential road. Nor is it a corridor. Nor is it a parkway.

    The only sure we know its that its proponents “need’ a road for long and short haul trucks to haul massive amounts of stuff of all sorts to Dulles Airport, a road that can also be used by other trucks to pick all this stuff up from the airport and deliver it throughout the Washington Metropolitan region from Richmond to Baltimore.

    And, not only that, but this road we are also told by our Virginia experts will reduce the travel time of commuting Virginians by exactly 3.5 billion hours a year. Imagine that, 3.5 billion a year in savings. What a road! This is going to be a road unlike any road other ever built in Northern Virginia before, a magic carpet road like in Cinderella, one that makes traffic vanish, presto, just like that. But hold on, there is more.

    We know all this because this road has yet another name, and its going to be a whole corridor, not just a road. The “North-South Corridor west of Dulles International Airport, a strategically important Corridor of Statewide Significance (CoSS).” This gives our corridor high priority, fast tracking approval and priority funding of your taxpayer dollars to projects built within the corridor. This is historic Folks. The first time the Virginia had added such a new corridor that wasn’t build around an existing Interstate or rail line. Surely that’s telling us how much the powers that be in Virginia transportation think its Virginia Piedmont, and its good citizens out there in the Hunt County, need more trucks, more warehouses, more distribution centers, and more traffic. Ops, a whole lot less traffic, the experts say.

    What a story, right out of Cinderella! Which brings up Disney. He’s back too.

  3. The dagger is right there in the article where it states it would “open up Western P.W. to development.” This road wouldn’t be about alleviating any traffic congestion, but rather about allowing the DC exburbs to expand even further, generating more commercial trucks and more commuters to fill the new road and keeping local traffic on the side streets. In 10 years, it would be as backed up as anything else.

    It solves no current existing problem, and instead serves only to increase the property values of a handful of property owners along the route and, in theory, the western PW landowners who could then rezone and redevelop.

  4. A push to designate this land in this places as a transportation corridor of statewide strategic significance is an effort pregnant with vast possibilities.

    Such an effort would make perfect sense in Richmond. But why do it in Virginia’s northern Piedmont, given all the reasons not to do it there?

    Perhaps the threat of Richmond plays into this. Lets grab the golden goose, and run with her to Dulles, before Richmond does the same down south.

  5. It’s hard to see what the purpose of this road is other than to open up more land for suburban development. As Reed notes, the road goes nowhere, at least north as it stops at the Potomac.

    Who’s for this road? It’s for the property owners, businesses and individuals who make their livings on new development. Many if not most of the most prominent and wealthy citizens have made their money this way and they’re ready to keep this ball rolling – to get onto the next deal, the next development, the next Bed and Bath. It’s exploitation of the region’s most plentiful resource – land – in the way that it’s always been done: buy land and get the Board of Supervisors to put in supporting infrasture and change zoning. Voila! – a silk purse out of hog’s ear. It works with a compliant Board of Supervisors (or state government), but that’s not been a problem in recent years because the counties’ economies are already heavily invested in development and don’t know another way.

    • Richard, quite right but with minor suggested edit:

      For the rich it’s “Voila! – a silk purse out of a hog’s ear!”

      But for everyone else it’s “Voila! – a hog’s ear out of a silk purse!”

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with the above comments. I am, however, emailing Jim a PowerPoint presentation recently made by proponents of the N-S Corridor last week.

  7. The problem with this road is that Loudoun County will get all the jobs and benefits of the road and Prince William County will get an interstate for Tractor Trailers to run through at top speed. it will be like PWC will have it’s very own I-81 in it’s back yard.

    It will also destroy the fragile renewal that is happening in the Eastern end of the County where the Route 234 meets I-95 and Rt. 1.

  8. The forces behind this north south connector are those stated above. If you removed the political influence of those local business interests, particularly the influence of landowners who would benefit from this road, and those on the Board of Dulles airport, this proposal would evaporate like spring frost.

    This is why this proposal is a traffic generator, doing the exact opposite of what the region needs road wise. What the region needs are roads that divert non-local traffic around northern Virginia, so as to allow local northern Virginia traffic to move freely. This proposal does the opposite.

    This road will pull non-local heavily congested traffic from the south (I-95) up into the vortex of even more congestion at Dulles Airport. Once all that new non-local traffic has been sucked into the center of that new traffic nightmare up north it will collect until it is forced outward in all directions.

    The road will work as those proposing it intend it to work. It’s how the big air freight cargo operation at Dulles Airport will be designed to function. Such an operation to be successful will suck up incoming cargo truck traffic from as many directions as possible – this will include truck traffic coming from the south side of Virginia up I-95, and the cargo truck traffic from Richmond and Norfolk also coming up I-95, and the truck traffic coming in from the west off I-81 onto I-66. All these flows of truck traffic will join into a single flow of traffic that finally comes up the North South connector where, on its arrival at Dulles, it will be sorted and/or stored then loaded onto cargo aircraft and flown out nationally and internationally.

    Simultaneously the airport will collect incoming airfreight from around the world, and will disburse it by truck through northern Virgina to the west, and to the east, north and south into the middle Atlantic states, and beyond.

    The collateral affect of this major cargo freight operation will be great. This air cargo hub will turbo charge the local building of distribution centers, warehouses, and light manufacturing facilities that will fed off of Dulles’s cargo operations. These new northern Virginia facilities will have been located there so as to take advantage of their products manufactured there being shipped by truck and air in all directions out of Northern Virgina.

    Most of these new facilities likely will be built and operate in the new North South Corridor that flanks its connector road running from Prince William County’s south end at I-95 to Loudoun’s north end at the Potomac River after that road has passed through the center of both Counties.

    Proponents of this road do not claim it will reduce traffic of northern Virginians by 3.5 billion commuter hours annually. That earlier statement was incorrect. But its difficult to see how any claim of traffic reduction by this road, can be made by anyone save as an assertion made in jest.

  9. The North South Connector proponents should take interested Loudoun and Prince William citizens up north in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

    There, the Virginians could tour the miles and miles of large industrial, distribution and warehouse facilities around Baltimore and Philly, getting a good feel of how these sorts of places would fit in their Virginia countryside.

  10. A few month’s ago the Virginia Governor and his buddies in the General Assembly came up with a new way to break open the People’s Piggy Bank, and spent it on roads. Professor Bacon duly raised storm warning signs.

    So what’s the first thing Virginia leaders do with all this new found money that belongs to the people? They blow it out by the billions on a road that makes their rich friends even richer, while the citizens who are forced to pay for it are left with more congestion amid a new industrial and truck zone.

    Is this good government? Or is it highway robbery?

  11. And it’s not just Richmond. MWAA and its influential allies are deeply involved in this matter. MWAA has a cost problem at Dulles. Management needs to reduce expenses and attract market disruptive low-price carriers.

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