Elected Officials Announce Bi-County Parkway Essentially Dead

| April 1, 2015 | 0 Comments | News

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Those opposing the Bi-County Parkway will be happy to learn that the highway project has been tabled indefinitely.

Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart (R) announced Tuesday that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has informed the County that VDOT is no longer pursuing the Programmatic Agreement or the environmental approvals from the Federal Highway Administration necessary to build the Bi-County Parkway.

According to Stewart’s office, in order for the Bi-County Parkway project to proceed, funding would need to come from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) or through VDOT district funding. Both of those funding options, however, would require the localities to prioritize the project over other regional priorities, which Stewart said was extremely doubtful.

“We simply cannot divert the limited funding we have from local and regional priorities to the Bi-County Parkway,” Stewart said.

Stewart expressed concern, however, about growing congestion on Route 28 and local backroads connecting Prince William and Loudoun counties.

“There is currently no good connection between two of the fastest growing counties in America. At a bare minimum, Route 28 needs to be improved, and we will be asking the Commonwealth for its support in alleviating this congestion,” Stewart said.

For many opposing the Parkway, this announcement is good news. The Parkway was adamantly opposed by those in Catharpin living along the proposed route. Others in the region did not like that the project included the calming of Route 29, making it a poor alternative to I-66 during morning and evening commutes. This alteration was proposed by the National Park Service so that fewer automobiles would travel past the Manassas Battlefield allowing that route to better serve park visitors.

Residents also feared that opening the expressway would bring more traffic, congestion and housing into Prince William’s western end of the Rural Crescent.

However, some believed the Parkway would facilitate a quicker commute between the counties of Prince William and Loudoun, helping residents that currently commute between the two counties and spurring an interchange of jobs between the two jurisdictions. Some entities, such as the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, promoted the route, saying it would provide Prince William with easy access to Dulles Airport, which would in turn help Prince William attract large businesses and corporations.

VDOT said the road was necessary to accommodate predicted population growth in the two fast-growing counties. It was also ideal for economic reasons and to facilitate light-shipping to Dulles Airport.

Commonwealth Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, former Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, led efforts to promote the Bi-County Parkway, despite opposition from those in the affected areas.

Tim Hugo at Broad Run.

Tim Hugo at Broad Run.

Wednesday, Delegate Tim Hugo (R-VA 40), along with other elected officials, held a press conference at the Sudley Methodist Church to announce a major development regarding the Bi-County Parkway. At the conference, Hugo, who opposed the Bi-County Parkway, shared a letter he received from the VDOT Commissioner of Highways.

In referencing the letter, Hugo said:

I am pleased to inform the residents of Prince William County that VDOT is not actively working on the Bi-County Parkway including pursuing the Programmatic Agreement or the environmental approvals from the Federal Highway Administration.’ In effect, this letter presents a significant roadblock to this project that sought to close Route 234 and traffic calm Route 29 through the Manassas National Battlefield Park, which would have affected hundreds of homeowners and businesses including this historic Sudley Methodist Church.

For over two years, this has been a hard-fought battle to stop an ill-conceived transportation project that would add thousands of cars onto I-66, worsening traffic congestion from Arlington to Fauquier. I am pleased that VDOT has shifted its focus to those transportation projects that will provide the most relief for Northern Virginia’s commuters and improve Virginia’s transportation infrastructure.

The letter states that the General Assembly has enacted legislation that significantly changes how projects will be debated and funded. The letter further states that the Bi-County Parkway is subject to that criteria and would go through both the evaluation and funding process before it could move forward.

Delegate Hugo clarified that the project was essentially dead in its current form.

Make no mistake, this is a huge victory for those of us who are in opposition to this road. During this past General Assembly session, I held numerous meetings with VDOT staff requesting this letter so that we could remove the cloud that has been hanging over western Prince William homeowners and businesses for over two years. This letter from VDOT should clarify to everyone involved that this project is not going to move forward as it is currently configured. If the project were ever considered for future development, the process would have to largely begin anew. The next step to ensure that this road is not built would be for the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to remove the Bi-County from their Comprehensive Plan.

He thanked those who worked to defeat the Parkway.

I would like to thank those who have toiled over this issue, spent time away from their families, and spent personal resources trying to maintain the Rural Crescent and the quality of life that so many in western Prince William County hold dear. This undertaking has been a model case for citizen involvement in addressing community concerns and taking those concerns to one’s elected officials.

While few will ever know of the thousands of hours spent in combating this flawed project, many will see the benefits of our combined efforts. Together, we have made a difference and it has been my honor and privilege to work alongside all those involved.

This article includes information provided by press releases from the Office of Prince William Board of County Supervisors’ Chairman, Corey Stewart, and the Office of Delegate Tim Hugo. 

© 2015, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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