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Supervisors spark new examination of Dulles Access Road plans

Loudoun County is taking something of a new approach to the planned Dulles Access Road, with county supervisors voting unanimously Wednesday night to initiate an updated assessment of the county's transportation plan and how it corresponds to the contentious thoroughfare in the Dulles area.

Supervisors directed staff to engage a consultant to model the road network with each of the various Dulles Access Road scenarios. Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) said his motion is intended to help supervisors and county staff “really understand where the heck we are with our current countywide transportation plan” and “understand the potential impacts” of the alternatives being considered for the road.

“I want an independent study that is controlled by the county,” York said. "This is about us taking this project and controlling our destiny, and not having Richmond telling us what we need to do."

Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Broad Run), who has been a vocal skeptic of some of the VDOT plans and scenarios, said she's "thrilled this is going to be an independent study."

"I do still stand on the 'no build' position, because the entire [road network] system does need to be looked at," Clarke added.

There is no set deadline for the new county report to be completed.

VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration have offered several specific routes for the Dulles Access Road, two of which have emerged as the front-runners and pitted local and state lawmakers against each other.

The leading plans include Alternative 2, which involves construction of a new road from the future segment of Northstar Boulevard north of Route 50 directly to Route 606, and Alternative 3C, which calls for reconstructing Route 50 between Northstar Boulevard and Loudoun County Parkway to build limited access express lanes in the median, essentially “express lanes."

Cost estimates for the two options show Alternative 3C coming in between $228-$244 million and Alternative 2 costing $240 million.

VDOT has endorsed Alternative 3C, as have Loudoun state Dels. Tag Greason (R-32nd) and Randy Minchew (R-10th) and state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-33rd).

Clarke, whose district spans a portion of the area for Alternative 3C and all the land for Alternative 2, also favors Alternative 3C.

Meanwhile, state Dels. David Ramadan (R-87th) and Jim LeMunyon (R-67th) and county Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), all of whom represent the Dulles and South Riding areas, have endorsed Alternative 2.

A time line for Loudoun County to give a recommendation on the alignment of the proposed road has been delayed until at least mid-2015. The delay comes because of legislation passed out of the General Assembly earlier this year, HB 2, which "provides for the development of a prioritization process for projects funded by the Commonwealth Transportation Board." Until the prioritization mechanism is in place, state-funded projects have basically been put on hold, according to a Virginia Department of Transportation official.

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