Monday, April 6, 2015

The Bi-County Parkway a Zombie Once More

On Tuesday, April 1, 2015 Delegate Tim Hugo (Virginia House of Delegates R-40th) along with Delegate Bob Marshall ( R-13th) and State Senator Richard H. Black (R-13) held a news conference in front of Sudley Methodist Church on Sudley Road within the Manassas Battlefield. The delegates were there to announce that Delegate Hugo had received a letter from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) stating that they are “not actively working on this project including pursuing the Programmatic agreement or the environmental approvals from the Federal Highway Administration.”

VDOT Secretary Layne went on to write, “Over the past several years legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor have significantly changed how projects will be developed and funded.” The new House Bills require a quantitative evaluation of potential projects and changes how funds are distributed.

What this really means is that no decision has been made on the proposed Bi-County parkway. Until the Bi-County parkway has been through the screening and scoring process later this year, it’s premature to assume it is dead. However, the so called “programmatic agreement” with several federal agencies and the Environmental Impact Report are both necessary to proceed with the project because the latest route to connect Interstate 66 in Prince William County and Route 50 in Loudoun County went through the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

The night before Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Corey Stewart, while affirming that the Bi-County parkway project could not move forward at this time, there was still a need for an outer beltway connecting Loudoun and Prince William Counties. The scoring of the projects will determine if it will proceed. For now the project remains a Zombie, not dead.

The Bi-County highway corridor is approximately 45 miles in length, and is essentially a more direct route for north/south commuters, and cargo and truck traffic connecting I-95 to Dulles Airport and Route 7. The North South Corridor portion alone will cost over $1,000,000,000, run through Prince William County’s Rural Crescent potentially damaging our watershed and impacting our groundwater resources, eliminates one of three corridors in our green infrastructure and once the segment of the Bi-County Parkway between I-66 and VA 234 was completed, U.S. 29 and VA 234 through the Park were planned to be closed.

As far back as 2005 the Prince William Board of Supervisors had passed a resolution in support of locating a connecting parkway east of the Battlefield (which would move it out of the Rural Crescent and away from the direct watershed of Bull Run) and the parkway without a route specified remains part of the PW County Comprehensive Plan. Supervisor Pete Candland (R-Gainesville) plans to introduce a resolution to remove the Bi-County Parkway from the Comprehensive Plan at the next supervisor’s meeting on Tuesday, April 7th 2015. This resolution will trigger a vote from the Board of County Supervisors the following Tuesday, April 14, on the motion to amend the Comprehensive Plan to remove the Bi-County Parkway from the Comprehensive Plane. The Supervisor needs as many citizens who can to attend these meetings on April 7 (2 PM and 7:30 PM at the McCoart Government Center) and April 14 to speak out in opposition to the Bi-County Parkway and to support his motion to remove this road project from the Comprehensive Plan.

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