A WASTE OF TIME

Discussing the three alternatives for the Tri-County Parkway (New Asphalt Battleground) is a perfect example of why posting a blog about many topics is a pure waste of time and effort. And so, perhaps, is pointing out that it is a waste of time.

The three “alternative” alignments have nothing in common except they were put on the same map to keep VDOT staff busy since there is no money to build anything. With planning like this no sane citizen will authorize funds – recall the sales tax vote of two years ago. Two of the alignments never get to a third county.

Paul is absolutely right about needing roads if you are talking about the alignment (“Plan C”) that has been on all three County Plans for 20 years. This one, however, runs near the homes of well connected activists in Fairfax County and will be dead on arrival as soon as someone counts the votes.

The other primary alignment (“Plan A”) is a life line for speculative owners of tens of thousands of acres of land in Prince William County north of Manassas National Battlefield Park and in the part of eastern Loudoun County known as “the transition area.” Without it, they cannot make a profit building out their holdings. Some have already indicated they will kick in money to lower the cost. They will also make significant political contributions if any candidate bites on the “just shoot up here amongst us we need some relief” logic.

Plan B is just there to give a shred of credence to including A in a “Tri County” alternatives study. A and B are pure cases of the reality that building more roads without Fundamental Change in settlement patterns makes mobility worse, not better. Every VDOT study of roads in the Plan A alignment has shown a roadway generates more new traffic than it can serve. In other words Jim is absolutely right too.

Let us stop wasting time and all agree that the first step is to create a plan for Balanced Communities inside the Clear Edge and then decide what transport system will provide access and mobility. Reality Check made it crystal clear that if all the stakeholders are at the table a rational plan is possible and it will require none of the subsidy that is now paid by every citizen and every enterprise and institution for dysfunctional human settlement patterns.

EMR


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  1. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Geez, on the one hand you say that people should pay for what they get, then when developers offer to pay for roads, you criticize them for acting in self interest. If you want to preserve the countryside, there are enough compelling arguments for that without raising a lot of red herring issues that only serve to dilute your argument.

    Forgetting anything else, just look at a map. DC has 95, 29, 66, 28, Dulles Toll road,7, and 270 all radially directed at the city. This is a recipe for congestion.

    Maybe it dates to the Civil War, but there are zero roads that go north and south. 495, 15 and 81 are it, unless you count Delaplane Grade Road, Maidstone Road, and Zulla Road, which are basically cart paths, hardly suitable for bike lanes today.

    We need a new interstate that goes from Charlottesville to York, PA., pralleling 95 and 81. It would go west of Manassas and near Leesburg, Frederick, and Hagerstown.

    We have what amounts to five new satellite cities: Dale City/Dumfries, Manassas, Cenerville/Fair Oaks, Tysons, and Reston, Not to mention Leesburg and Winchester. There is no plan for dealing with traffic between these centers.

    Instead of Extending rail to Tysons and Dulles it would be better to have a line from Reston to Chantilly to Centervile to Dale City.

    Use the Dulles Airport road for BRT and expand Metro primarily inside the beltway, not radially. For radial transit add VRE service to Leesburg.

    The Orange line is already jammed, adding a branch to it will only make the situation worse, better to extend it to Centerville.

    As far as the reality check exercise is concerned, take a look at the data. Jobs close to transit – up a whopping 3%, Jobs outside the beltway – up 6%. Growth outside the urban area – up 16%. Households close to transit – up 6%. This is more like a recipe for more of the same than it is Fundamental Change.

    We are going to put twice as many new houses close to transit as we do new jobs, and only a fraction of them will use transit anyway. Meanwhile, in todays news, Fairfax County planners are concerned about congestion in Tysons because of development associated with the new Metro Station.

    That station is going to cost $1.5 billion and reap enormous benefit for landowners and developers there who are kicking in only $400 million, and that comes from special taxes imposed after the development. Half comes from the feds, and a quarter form the state. Who do you think you are kidding about subsidies? You want to talk farm subsidies?

    I’m sorry, I don’t buy your argument about the clear edge, which doesn’t exist anyway. All that amounts to is another kind of subsidy for those inside the boundary. If implemented it sets up all kinds of imbalances and restrictions that can only raise costs overall. Adam Smith would roll over in his grave at the idea. England tried greenbelts for 60 years and now they are dismantling them for economic reasons – high housing costs and demand for larger lots among them.

    Blaming developers for development, and roads for traffic is an exercise in obtuseness. Why not send the bill for roads to the aut manufacturers, that we we won’t have to pay for them, right?Putting restrictions on development has generated more developer’s profits than even low interest rates has. Refusing to build roads increases congestion which results in people spreading out even more, in order to escape the congestion.

    If we reduce traffic by not building roads, all that means is that we will pay for the roads anyway, through lost commerce, and not get the roads.

    I agree completely that what we are doing makes no sense, and the countryside needs to be preserved. But making a plan postulated on rational behavior is a mistake: better to make the plan based on observed behavior.

    Really, the forces that drive cities are fundamentally out of our control, just think about what Rome must look like today: all we can do is fiddle at the margin. For example, if there is no money for roads, there is no money to implement your plan either.

    Like you say, if conservation is what people want, then let them pay for it. I figure we can buy every available undeveloped acre in Fauquier county, and it will only cost us around $675,000 per capita at $10,000/acre. Of course, if we could just get subsidised by all those people in the city, then we could get the cost down ……

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