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    Bi-County Parkway faces summer slowdown

    A year ago at this time, the Bi-County Parkway served as one of the most red-hot issues in Prince William County, both politically and from a policy perspective.

    Since then, talk about the proposed four-lane, limited-access roadway that would connect western Prince William County to Loudoun County as an alternative route to Dulles International Airport is much more muted.

    That doesn't mean it's dead; it's just that the primary cast of characters making decisions about the road flipped and the project is now in a holding pattern of sorts.

    "I don't know that there's a conversation," said state Del. Bob Marshall (R-13th), one of the parkway's leading opponents.

    He mentioned that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) had "expressed support for it," which is true conceptually, though the governor's support carries some caveats.

    McAuliffe is on record in local media of supporting the idea of the road as a way to increase cargo traffic at Dulles but he hasn't taken a stand on the exact proposal itself, claiming instead that it's out of his hands.

    "This is still kind of under the radar," said Marshall.

    Opponents of the parkway aren't ready to declare victory yet but members of the local "Say No! to the Tri County Parkway" group are counting their gains.

    "You don't have the programmatic agreement signed. You no longer have the momentum for this project you had," said Mary Anne Ghadban, a Gainesville resident and leader of the group.

    Last year, the group sent out almost daily email blasts about the roadway, often linking to media stories or blogs opposing the road.

    This year, it's been much more muted.

    "We haven't seen anything changed but it's been stalled," said Ghadban.

    "We think it's stalled or it could be a lack of transparency again," added Page Snyder, another Gainesville resident and group member whose rural property would be affected by the road.

    The General Assembly did not deal a death blow to the road during its session earlier this year although it had the opportunity to strip funding.

    "If we don't put the money in there, then they can't proceed fully," said Marshall.

    Instead, talks about expanding Medicaid became the main talk in Richmond and even issues like what to call the "Sea of Japan" in textbooks drew out-sized coverage compared to the Bi-County Parkway.

    A bill sponsored by state Sen. Dick Black (R-13th) that was signed into law dealt with eminent domain issues that would result if the project is ultimately approved.

    Black's bill, SB 194, amended a statute about “inverse condemnation” regarding what happens when the government takes private property for a road.

    Part of the new language states that courts may decide property value on "the date the property was taken or damaged."

    The “inverse condemnation law needs to be strengthened so that when you have a route put on a community that devalues and makes a property more difficult to market, inverse condemnation takes effect," said Ghadban.

    Asked what, exactly, about the law needs added teeth, Ghadban replied, "We'll get back to you on that."

    History
    So what happened to stall out the Bi-County Parkway?

    First, the 2013 election replaced former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) with McAuliffe. Perhaps more importantly, it also meant that former VDOT Secretary Sean Connaughton, a McDonnell appointee, left office too.

    Connaughton, a Triangle resident and former two-term chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, served as the Bi-County Parkway's chief advocate before being replaced by Aubrey Layne Jr., who is also the Commonwealth Transportation Board chairman.

    Layne, who like Connaughton identifies as a Republican, hails from Hampton Roads instead of Northern Virginia and prioritized a different road, U.S. 460 in the southeast, as his main focus.

    Meanwhile, another key figure in the parkway talks, former Manassas National Battlefield Superintendent Ed Clark, transferred away from Manassas to Gettysburg as part of a new assignment with the National Park Services.

    Clark had favored the road as a way to keep traffic from cutting through the middle of Manassas National Battlefield Park.

    Without Clark to sign the programmatic agreement, or Connaughton to champion it, the conversation shifted away from the parkway, at least until the Commonwealth Transportation Bill acts on it as part of its priority list.

    "I hope they [the current administration] learned from the previous administration that the citizens do not take these kind of end runs ... well," said Snyder.


    Comments

    First your claim of an hour is dubious. Second you are coming out where the traffic is terrible on the weekend. Third your are well above where I am talking about at 234 or Rt17.


    Fed up- I think you need a good map or a better GPS unit.

    In your post “If this bi county is built I can get to 95 in less than an hour vs the current 90 minutes it takes.”

    In a typical rush hour I can get to the 95 in about 55 mins from Lansdowne. I will tell you how:
    1) 7 E
    2) 7100 S (FFX COUNTY PKWY)
    3) Ox Rd (past GMU campus)
    4) 95 South

    Not sure where your 1.0 hr and 1.5 hr numbers are coming from.

    My point is we don’t need this road to get to 95S any sooner.

     


    You guys ever driving on 66 through Mananas? Not just rush hour but any time? It sucks hard and that is how we get to 95 going south. 15 is a disaster in rush hour through the Hay Market area and its back road work around to get to 17 on 95 south takes over 90 minutes in no traffic. If this bi county is built I can get to 95 in less than an hour vs the current 90 minutes it takes. The is 1/3rd less driving.

    Lets not forget it would run right through Ashburn and connect directly to 267 at 66; right now it take 15 minutes for folks there to go either east or west to catch 15 or 28 before they even start going south. It would be a huge time saver.


    RH I have driven on the 28 past the 267. Not on a daily basis, but frequent enough.

    The delays are sporadic. I though they were getting rid of that light right before you approach the 66.


    Everett, have you ever driven 28 beyond the Dulles airport area?  The stretch between Chantilly and 66 is a mess, starts to backup early in the afternoon going South.  That “small” stretch between the Airport and Waxpool is a pain.  There needs to be alternatives, people can’t keep sticking their heads in the ground and pretending that there is not an issue.


    @Fedupdude, please explain where you think 28 is a mess. The only place is around the dulles airport and access road.
    between 5- 8am, I can get from start of 28(route 7) to route 50 in 15 minutes or less. Some morning, it takes me longer on route 7(less than 3 miles) to travel about 10 miles south on 28. Perhaps you’re one of those in the passing lanes going 45 MPH…. As usual, you’re wrong about 28.

    Widen 15 before wasting money on this parkway.


    Fed up-

    The 15 freeway is what it is…it is 1 lane each way so back ups are inevitable.

    The 28 freeway is just fine even during rush hour EXCEPT one small stretch between waxpool and the 267 freeway. Those numerous overpasses helped along the 28.


    28 and 15 are a mess, especially 28. A third in between road would cut north south drives 33% from where tens of thousands of people live.


    Unsure whey we need this road??? Really?  Have you ever driven 15?  If they don’t want to build that road then they should look to widen 15, both north and south of Leesburg, it’s long overdue that we have a better north/south road.  Those who oppose and are afraid of developers, DON"T SELL YOU LAND!  I find it funny how people complain about widening roads because of feared development and then turn around and immediately sell their land to developers once the road is done, makes no sense.


    @FedupDude, It’s called 28 & 15, unsure why this road is needed?


    Everett - How did you discern that the teens were looking for trouble?  What clues gave them away?  I really need to know so that I can avoid these trouble looking teens.


    This road is coming, its half there already. I look forward to a better north south connection out of Ashburn


    This time last year the governor (since disgraced) was pushing for this road.  Not so the current governor (thank goodness).  We no longer have a Secretary of Transportation trying to build roads to please his crony friends.


    We need more roads built. HOT lanes on the 495 have helped a lot especially in the afternoon the 495 South Freeway coming from MD into VA.

    The state should toll all the major freeways so only those who really need to go somewhere will drive and cause less traffic. I have seen numerous times teens just driving around looking for trouble.

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    Loudoun Business Journal - Summer 2014

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