Hillsborough Winery

Looking west from Hillsborough Vineyards, just north of the town of Hillsboro.

This letter is in opposition to the current pedestrian safety and infrastructure improvements in the village of Hillsboro on Route 9. Although there are wide unsubstantiated claims made to the contrary by the Town of Hillsboro and certain county supervisors who are up for re-election, this project is vehemently opposed by nearly all businesses located on Route 9. Of course we all support public works projects intended to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety, as well as those projects intended to upgrade and enhance these infrastructures.

However, the current plan was enacted without any communication, endorsement or involvement from the businesses that will be negatively impacted.

The small Town of Hillsboro, with fewer than 125 full-time residents and less than a handful of businesses, currently has no public water or sewer nor the funding and approval to implement the same. There are thousands of daily commuters that pass through the town, some of which surely exceed the posted speed limits creating a potential hazard for the local residents. However, what I suspect started as a legitimate project to slow down traffic has ballooned into a full-blown public works project complete with two roundabouts, sidewalks, crossways, lighting, parking, benches, speed humps and about 86 under-road public utility crossings. Let me reiterate: 86 under-ground crossings to direct water and sewer that currently doesn’t exist and that the town does not have funding to add. We all want pedestrian safety, but just like the nearby small town of Upperville off Route 50, simple speed humps and better signage across walkways would accomplish this “stated” goal for a much lower cost and with minimal impact to both residents and local businesses.

Apart from the thousands of commuters and adjacent towns that will be impacted with the current plan, the proposed MOT directs traffic through rural roads including Stoney Point and Woodgrove are a guaranteed recipe for disaster. These are very narrow small country roads with no line markers designed only for local use. There are numerous blind turns and single lane and wooden bridges that are hazardous for even those of us that drive these roads daily. Adding untold additional cars along with 53-foot tractor trailer trucks to these hilly roads, which are also shared with bicycles and pedestrians, will naturally result in more accidents and unbearable backups. Backups that are not only a nuisance but threaten quick access for first responders and added delays for school buses.

Furthermore, the use of dual roundabouts on either end of the town has not been properly vetted. Although highly effective in certain cases, these structures are designed for maximum traffic throughput. Anyone who lives west of the town of Hillsboro will confirm that attempting to merge onto Route 9 is currently met with an unrelenting stream of traffic during peak hours. In fact the only time to enter Route 9 is during the gap in cars that have been stopped at the current traffic light at Route 9 and Hillsboro Road. Once you replace this existing traffic light with a roundabout, you essentially remove the gap in traffic, creating a continuous flow of cars thereby making entry onto Route 9 even more frustrating, nearly impossible, and highly dangerous for all of our clientele and the residents of the very town these improvements are meant to help.

However, I am sure that all of these points were fully considered yet dismissed during the proper due diligence phase of such a large project. So, let me focus on one aspect that I am positive has been ignored: the impact to local businesses. Our business, Hillsborough Vineyards and Brewery, is located immediately west of the Town of Hillsboro, and 70% of our costumers originate from points east. Once Route 9 is under construction and with so many other wonderful alternatives in Loudoun County, many of our customers will opt for more easily accessible venues such as those on Route 50 or Route 15. Furthermore, our losses will not end with the completion of construction, but will persist for many years thereafter, as the public will be conditioned and adapt to avoid the Route 9 corridor in favor of these other businesses.

We estimate a conservative annual loss of 30%-40% to our business as a direct result of this proposed multi-year construction, current MOT, and the stated 60 days of total road shut downs. Naturally, we must downsize staff and would release at least 5-10 employees. We have also halted all future expansion investments.

So, not only will the county and commonwealth see losses in tax revenue, but will see a reduction in jobs and flush away untold dollars in future planned investments and improvements. I fully understand that the woes of a singular business may not seem very impactful, but consider that our projected losses could be multiplied by the 20-plus wineries, breweries, B&Bs and other farm businesses on the Route 9 corridor. The cumulative losses will be in the millions of dollars, hundreds of jobs, and multi-million dollars in lost investments.

So, I must ask, is the current Route 9 plan for the benefit of 100-plus residents of a small town worth the years of traffic headaches for the entire region, along with the untold amount of lost revenues, jobs and investments? Especially considering the glaring irony that… the Town of Hillsboro plans on using our county tax dollars to put our businesses in jeopardy?

We sincerely hope that project officials will immediately halt all further funding and construction plans for Route 9 and re-open this topic for further discussion and participation from all effected parties, including the newly formed Loudoun Heights Agritourism Council.

______

Tolga Baki is an owner and the head brewer of Hillsborough Winery and Brewery. He is a member of the Loudoun Heights Agritourism Council.

 

(9) comments

Betty toole

Keep up the fight Baki! Hillsboro should cancel the ill advised western circle, reducing the scope by 50%, and eliminating the need to close the road at all. But hillsboro won't. Why? Because that circle makes it eSier for the mayor and Vice Mayor to get out of their houses to commute east because they don't have to back onto 9 west then turn around to go east. Honestly, this is the ONLY reason for the western circle that has traffic coming from any other road but route 9. All this so they can turn around more easily. This is what they asked for from vdot 10 years ago when the impact of this was so far in the distance. Some engineer behind a desk far away created the two circle design for this reason and here we are. Focus on reducing the scope vineyards and you will win!!!!!


BobOhneiserEsq

Abbeyh73, You raise some great points. Loudoun is a boundary county in a state that prefers to harvest funds from it rather than truly work to resolve interstate commutation problems. Just like I have promised to bring our congressional representatives into a long term planning session (with funding sources) along with Maryland and Virginia VDOT to finally resolve the similar Route 15 north of Leesburg longstanding debacle I will do the same with West Virginia. The time for the loudoun BOS Chair to spend most of her time looking for photo ops and bragging about what she did as it projects like . Drug Court were obviously done by others is about to end VOTE on Nov 5th. :-)


FarmerJohn

@Abbeyh73















There is already a by-pass: 340 to route 7. Easy solution to your problem.




Abbeyh73

Thank you, Tolka - and best of luck in keeping your business operating. Such a shame that over 17,000 people are to be negatively impacted for the convenience of 86. Is this democracy?


dinah

Tolls going into Wv md also





dinah

All for Hillsboro what a joke! What about night work on road


Waterfordresident

We are east of Hillsboro and the traffic coming from the west of the town is horrific. Mainly people from WV causing all the issues in the morning and late afternoon. I say out tolls up to tax the people in WV in the mornings and late afternoon late Monday - Friday and no tols for weekends and holidays. The owner here is looking at the town benefits, but not the amount of traffic each weekday morning and afternoon. This is the problem. You don’t want a bypass, which is best, so this this is what you get. Stop thinking this is for 125 people, but talk down Route 9 and soon to be other interceptions for planned roundabouts on Route 9. It’s not all about you.


Abbeyh73

As one of those WV people who drive Route 9. A. We're economic refugees from the high cost of Loudoun. B. Good luck finding people to staff your stores and restaurants, since no one working those jobs can afford to live in Loudoun; C. We don't WANT to drive through Hillsboro, any more than the citizens of Hillsboro want us to; D. build a bypass already - then the 86 citizens of Hillsboro can spend their energies in building businesses that will make people want to get off at their tiny town. Tolls - really? Those of us who fled the exorbitant prices of Loudoun did so with the understanding that there was a reasonable route to work. Take that away, and your salespeople, wait staff, and fast food workers will commute to Frederick where their input is appreciated.


WV Hillbilly

West Virginia did the right thing and created a bypass to the Virginia line... if anything we should have a toll to get into our great state and use the beautiful bypass we paid for (that was supposed to be reciprocated on the Virginia side).







West Virginians are simply commuting to work, which is available because Virginia built a billion houses and businesses. We are your work force... we spend a LOT of money in your county... so don’t put the blame on West Virginian commuters, place that blame on yourself for not following thru on the Bypass.







A bypass is the ONLY solution to this issue, I look forward to you changing my mind.


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.