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    Leesburg Town Council pressured to accept North-South Corridor

    A proposal by Leesburg's mayor Tuesday to officially oppose the North-South Corridor was met with what some Town Council members believed to be a threat by Loudoun County Chairman Scott York and Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance President Robert Chase to withhold transportation funding.

    York's staff aide, Robin Bartok, during a Town Council meeting read a statement from the chairman that said opposition to the state's controversial corridor could mean the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority -- the group formed by the General Assembly to plan for long-range transportation projects -- would not consider Leesburg when allocating money from the recently passed transportation bill.

    "The chairman asked me to ask you 'Do you support roads and that's a really important question because if you oppose this road it appears that you don't support roads and I think NVTA will keep that in mind when allocating its 30 percent.' They're going to be looking at the communities that are supporting roads and supporting what the county supports," Bartok said.

    York sits on the authority's board, which is responsible for dividing 70 percent of $1.6 billion that will be given to Northern Virginia for transportation projects in the next six years. The remaining 30 percent will be given to localities and Loudoun will be responsible for allocating the funds to the county's towns.

    Bartok's statement was not taken lightly by Leesburg Town Council members.

    Mayor Kristen Umstattd urged council members to push forward with opposing the proposed, and controversial, state project.

    "I think we should not buy into the argument that we're going to be blackmailed that if we stand up for our citizens other entities will take away all our transportation dollars," Umstattd said. " … I don't think we can honorably represent our citizens if we cower every time someone threatens us. I don't view that as an argument that I can abide by or put up with."

    In addition to York's statement, Chase, the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance president, sent an email to state Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th) and Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard that was read aloud in Tuesday's meeting by Vice Mayor Dave Butler.

    "… Why would Leesburg want to bite the hands that feed them transportation funds? I would suggest that the most important thing for the mayor to consider is the likelihood of the unfunded projects listed below ever being funded if the Town Council comes out in opposition to the North-South Corridor. The CTB and VDOT do not lack for other projects in which to invest. The six-year plan contains no guarantees. The funds are shifted around every year. CTB can easily decide to "deprogram" funds for Edwards Ferry Road, etc. Message needs to be delivered by Leesburg residents. Got any candidates?" Butler read.

    The vice mayor took issue with the idea that Leesburg was "anti road."

    "When I hear that we're getting threatened from multiple directions, that's a big warning sign that the facts are not on the threatening people's side, so they're resorting to threats. To even imply for one minute that Leesburg is anti-road is completely disingenuous," he said.

    Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board on May 15 delayed a vote to accept the North-South Corridor master plan that includes a proposal to more directly link Loudoun and Prince William's roadways.

    The North-South plan includes several regional projects, including the so-called Bi-County Parkway, which extends Route 234 from I-66 in Prince William to Route 50 and Northstar Boulevard in Loudoun. The project is meant as a north-south alternative to U.S. 15 and Route 28 that would provide greater connectivity between the two counties.

    Pro-business officials from both Loudoun and Prince Williams have been adamantly in favor of the plan, while environmentalists and more conservative-growth groups are doing their best to thwart the project.

    Howard and Rob Clapper, president of the Prince William Chambers of Commerce favor the Bi-County proposal.

    Town Council members ultimately agreed to defer the motion to oppose the North-South Corridor by a 4-2-1 vote until they can get more information.

    While voting to defer the motion, council member Thomas Dunn, who voted to delay the motion, voiced strong opposition to York's statement.

    "When it starts getting threatening I start wondering which political side is pushing which buttons. I look at things like this that are in an effort to get involved more as a political effort than a practical effort," Dunn said. "I normally don't go looking for trouble, but when it comes my way I just love it. I'm not going to back down from a fight. If you're going to show up in here to try and buttonhole me into going in another direction it might be a tougher fight than you thought."


    – Staff Writer Trevor Baratko contributed to this report.

    Editor's note: The story has been changed from an earlier version to clarify that Loudoun County Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) sits on the board of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.


    Comments

    What in the heck is York thinking?  And will Reid stand up for Leesburg (heck no)?  Leesburg has absolutely NOTHING to do with this road and the fact those in favor are willing to extort a “yea” vote out of Leesburg shows how desperate those folks are.  Leesburg’s vote is meaningless, but guess York can’t pass up a chance to throw his weight around.  Hey about this???  What the heck is going on with the widening of 50————that’s taking so dang long by the time its done it will be useless.  We need better East West roads and if the NVTA doesn’t understand that then we are doomed.  I agree that roads should be ranked by priority not popularity (that’s what NOVA has been griping about for years—-we didn’t have enough say in what we needed and now this group is going to play God over the roads???).


    Road projects should be by priority not at the mercy of the whims by a politician who you guessed it sits on another crummy authority.
    Label the projects numerically and proceed in the publics best interests which is not being done by York, Chase and Howard.


    Why aren’t the road projects listed in a order based on which projects would relieve congestion the quickest? York and Chase along with Howard holding Leesburg hostage with the future funds should be tantamount to criminal behavior. The political machinations should never have entered, alas our so-called leaders are using their political agenda instead of the public need to build roads. Say it ain’t so!


    I love how York, a classic pro business republican, is now an embarrassment for the western Loudoun social issue right wing. No wonder the republican party is falling apart.


    This is reminiscent of the boom of the 1980’s-90’s that occurred in Fairfax County, and swallowed up Fairfax City.  Two separate governments and there was no stopping the County, with its grandiose plans of over population.  The City was caught right smack in the middle of it and had no way out.  Now the City is completely gridlocked all day and night.  Loudoun’s doing the same thing to Leesburg, with heavies like York leading the way.


    So typical of the developers who think that what the want is the will of the people. With York and Lazzaro fighting to make Leesburg and Purcellville look like Tysons Corner only shows it is time for these two clowns to pick up their circus tent and move on. Hang in Leesburg, don’t let these bullies push their will on you only to make up their losses due to the economy. Leesburg already looks over-ugly. Is there an uglier shopping center than the Route 7 mess where Wegman’s is? Telephone poles and power lines everywhere! If the developers cared, they could have at least buried the wires since it was raw land to start with. So typical of the developers who prey on Loudoun.


    Classic case of developers and business people trying to prioritize their economic prosperity over the interests of everyone else.


    Is it any wonder that we have a “bullying problem” in our public schools here in Loudoun County when students have role models such as Scott York and Robert Chase??? Leesburg Town Council: DO NOT BUCKLE UNDER


    While it will certainly mean more development long the route (good for County coffers), all that traffic will dump into Route 7, which will heavily affect those of us who live near 7.  I commute daily from Sterling to Gainesville and this road would help me…but I can’t support it due to the mass of traffic it would create on our already saturated roads.


    Scott York is an embarrassment to Republicans.  Please go back to being an Independent.  You make us cringe.


    Virgina needs East/ West traffic relief. How about more lanes on 66 inside the beltway, and everywhere else that is bumper to bumper.


    We need this road…........ take the small town mindset away and look at the big picture.

    Keep fighting York, make it happen.


    Scott, shouldn’t be at an all you can eat buffet somewhere…. You are one of the worst/corrupt politicians in Loudoun. Please just go away. Nobody in Loudoun want a north/south Corridor. Most go EAST/West for their commute, you moron.


    I so want this road; we need a better access road to I95 south; it would cut 30 minutes off the time I spend driving that way. Just do not make it a toll road and make a fly over for rt 50 or your are wasting time.


    Who can resist this!  Soooooooooo, we have Scott “Push’m Around” York telling Leesburg he’ll get ‘em, for doing what?  Standing up, and representing we Leesburg residents.  Shame on you, Scott York, and this Mr. Chase.  And in case anyone missed it, what is this north/south road?  Well, guess what, it is a long road, taking cars from way down south, onto Route 7, so that drivers can then drive to Maryland and West Virginia, which means, little o’l Town of Leesburg gets allllllllllll that traffic.  Clogged road seems to be what Scott York wants.  Well, I don’t, and thank our luck stars, neither does Mayor Umstattd.  Keep up the great fight, Mayor!


    Is that really $1.6 million, or should it be $1.6 billion? A million bucks won’t even cover the cost of the striping paint.

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