The Commonwealth Transportation Board has delayed a vote on accepting a master plan for the North-South Corridor, opting instead to hear from Prince William County residents before making a final decision.
The board had been slated to vote at its meeting Wednesday in Richmond. The master plan includes the planned Bi-County Parkway segment linking Va. 234 in western Prince William County to Loudoun County, as well as the Battlefield Bypass, which would reroute traffic from Va. 234 and U.S. 29 around the Manassas National Battlefield. The plan also includes improvements to access to Dulles International Airport.
- Read about a church congregation and a retirement community concerned about the proposed project in Friday's Prince William Today.
But area residents, several state legislators and U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, VA-10th, asked the board to hold off voting until more public hearings can be held.
A public meeting on the road is scheduled for June 3, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William Campus of George Mason University.
Commonwealth Transportation Board member Gary Garczynski said he wanted time for transportation officials to dispel some myths and rumors surrounding the project. But he acknowledged the project won’t make everyone happy.
“We are not going to satisfy those that don’t want that road,” he said.
State Deputy Secretary of Transportation David Tyeryar said the board’s vote on the plan would only accept that the study was completed and would not result in committing any money to project or finalizing any road alignments.
“This study is quite simply a visioning process,” Tyeryar said. “It’s simply a jumping off point.”
The board unanimously voted to defer that vote until its June meeting.
On Wednesday, state delegates Robert G. “Bob” Marshall, R-13th, and Tim Hugo, R-40th, addressed the board. So did a group of Prince William County residents, most of whom live on or near Pageland Lane.
Marshall said area residents have not been informed or involved enough for the project to go forward as it stands now.
“Holding a CTB meeting more than 100 miles from the project in the middle of a weekday where most of the commuters affected by the project cannot in all practicality attend the meeting is a profound disservice to citizens,” Marshall said, referring to Wednesday’s meeting, held during the day at the Virginia Department of Transportation’s central office in Richmond.
“The CTB should hold public meetings in Loudoun and Prince William for input, not just for announcing a fiat decision.”
Hugo said he had many concerns about the project, including the impact it could have on the Prince William County’s rural areas. But he said his biggest concern relates to the possibility of closing Va. 234 and U.S. 29. Doing so, he said, would “create a traffic Armageddon.”
“I think this is a bad project, I think you make it egregious when you talk about closing 234 and 29,” he said.
Mac Haddow, president of the Western Prince William County Homeowners Association, said current plans “would create a commuter nightmare” and “increase safety problems” in much of the western part of the county.
“There are alternatives. We are hopeful you will look at the alternatives,” he said.
Haddow also said there is confusion about what the plans are.
“There is confusion everywhere about what you are attempting to do,” Haddow said. “We need to eliminate that confusion. We welcome more public hearings.”
In a letter sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell Tuesday, Wolf asked the governor to intervene and ask the CTB to delay making any decisions on the North-South Corridor until public hearings can be held.
In his letter, Wolfe said he has heard from people “on all sides of the issue.”
“I am fully aware of the unique transportation challenges facing Northern Virginia and have worked hard to make improvements to the region's transportation network,” he wrote. “That said, I am concerned that this project now seems to be on a ‘fast track’ and many of my constituents are frustrated that they are not getting a fair hearing, particularly those residents who live near Routes 234 and 29 and on nearby side roads. These people have invested their lives here and are deeply disappointed with the way the project is being advanced. I share their concerns.”
A half dozen of people, including representatives from the Committee for Dulles, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, asked the board to accept the master plan for the North-South Corridor, saying the road improvements are needed, and businesses and residents in the area “will all benefit from improved north-south connectivity.”