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EDITORIAL: A bridge too far

Let’s say you want to get married on a kayak in the middle of the Potomac River where Route 15 crosses at Point of Rocks. It’s a lovely setting for a ceremony, especially if you fancy adventure. Just make sure you have a Maryland marriage license.

The Potomac River divides Maryland and Virginia, but Virginia does not own half of the river. The Maryland border stretches to the Virginia shoreline.

Geography is lost on members of Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors, who embrace a fantasy that they can bridge the Potomac with a new crossing from Loudoun County that eases traffic congestion and fosters an agenda for growth.

Maryland is having none of it. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says the state has no inclination to build a new Potomac River crossing. Maryland won’t pay for it.

Neither will Virginia. “I don’t fund bridges that aren’t in our state,” says Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

Across the river in Montgomery County, Maryland, County Council President Roger Berliner characterizes the crossing as a zombie bridge. “It keeps rising from the dead, ” says Berliner, who is leading opposition in the Free State.

Indeed, a new crossing across the Potomac has been studied and restudied, argued and dismissed for half a century.

Now, the idea for another crossing has regained support in some portions of northern Virginia, where there is extensive commuting to and around the Capitol District. Loudoun County Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) says that the crossing is his “number one for the region.”

It’s hard to predict what happens in the strange world that connects politics with public projects, but unless Meyer has acquired superpowers, a new plan to study the crossing won’t change outcomes.

Loudouners have learned to live with sprawl. Many are frustrated with miles-long backups on Route 15 between Leesburg and the Point of Rocks Bridge. But rather than widen the road to four lanes, most favor preserving a bucolic stretch of road that has been designated a National Scenic Byway.

The Route 15 corridor through Loudoun County is a favored pathway on both sides of the river. But it can be as dangerous as it is attractive. North of Leesburg, Route 15 persists as an undivided, two-lane road with a volume of commercial trucking, north-south travelers and, increasingly, local commuters who can attest to driving conditions that are tricky during the day, perilous at night and dangerous on weekends when tourists flock to wineries, festivals, riding events and destinations such as rivers, the Appalachian Trail and historic sites.

Loudoun County contains some of the most gorgeous and valuable land in the nation. Over the past 250 years, citizens have built structures in harmony and proportion with the land. But in just one generation, the manifestations of mismanaged growth, poor planning and careless land-use have created a predicament with apparently no way out.

With one transportation project -- the Silver Line extension into Loudoun -- bringing exponential growth into the county at a cost that spirals out of control, another massive public works project with a huge price tag seems ill advised.

No one wants to pay for it. Not in Maryland. Not in Virginia.

Comments


Same could be said about Route 9. A $10 toll is cheap and would change traffic much. Perhaps not allow trucks on that part of route 15. BOS dropped the ball by allowing development north of Leesburg but not adding lanes to 15. A major issue is cars making turns since no turning lane…. They could/should widen to 4 lanes on both sides but that will never happen.


If Virginia doesn’t want traffic on Route 15,  why don’t we put a $10 toll on the Point of Rocks Bridge?  That will solve the problem in a day.


The view of the 0.1%‘ers is alive and well in newspaper editorials.  Many Loudouners have driven on Rt 15 farther north, beyond Frederick, MD.  The scenery is no less bucolic because Maryland built a 4-lane divided highway.  In fact, I would argue the sweeping curves of the 60 mph highway overlooking the Appalachian hills, cornfields and pastures is even more pristine than the limited view of the small 2-lane highway in Virginia.

So why exactly do we have Rt 15 as a large thoroughfare north of Frederick and in many parts of Virginia but restricted to 2 lanes in the Loudoun and Montgomery County areas?  Because some rich political types from DC decided they wanted a quick rural getaway from the city and bought farms they have no intention of ever using to produce crops or livestock.  Thereafter, they were determined not to let the needs of anyone else “spoil” there protected homes.  It’s all about the 0.1%‘ers all the time.  Many of the Loudoun politicians kowtow to them (see Phyllis Randall adn Gary Higgins).  They couldn’t care less how many people die on that unsafe 2-lane highway.  Their whole goal is to prevent any more people from building near them and, while they are at it, prevent their middle class neighbors from realizing profits on their farmland.

Whether it’s the elites in Potomac, MD or western Loudoun, these rich snobs are the enemy of those who must use the roads for their daily commutes.  Berliner is just the personification of the corruption of money and power.  He doesn’t represent the interests of the people but rather the interests of those mega-donors who fund local political campaigns.  Eventually, the people will wise up and throw types like him out.  It may take awhile but as Trump showed, the people have grown weary of the despicably corrupt establishment.


Meyer is a zealot who would pave Loudoun over if it furthered his political career. He paved Shaun Pahlavani 4 acres but used VDOT to eminent domain his property and ignored Shaun’s calls.  Without the fed there is no bridge and a 11 billion dollar price for 13 miles of road and bridge is steep indeed.


Translation” Since rich 1% in Montgomery County don’t want their scenic views disturbed you will just have to live with the traffic jams. Don’t you know your place?”

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