The Prince William Board of County Supervisors is delaying a decision on the preferred route for the $300 million Va. Route 28 bypass.

The board voted unanimously to defer consideration until Aug. 4.

In development for years, the Va. 28 bypass would extend Godwin Drive from Manassas to near Fairfax County, providing an alternative to the busy commuter route. 

The board is being asked to endorse the bypass route and authorize county staff to complete a project agreement with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to use $89 million in NVTA funding. 

Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles, said the project is mostly in her district and she would like time to reach out to her constituents about the project. 

Ric Canizales, the county's transportation director, said the project agreement with the NVTA should be completed before September. After the board recommends a bypass route, county staff can begin a design process, Canizales said.

“We’ll go through a two-year, robust process for design and we’ll come back to the board for approval of the design,” Canizales said. 

The project will provide more traffic relief than widening Va. Route 28, he said.

During a public hearing, 10 people spoke about the project. Several asked about the impact on flooding in the area. 

Sharon Jones, who lives in the proposed road’s pathway, said her home would need to be purchased to build the four-lane road. She asked the board to consider other transportation options. 

The bypass option could affect 70 homes, Canizales previously told InsideNoVa. Half or more of those houses would need to be purchased completely, while the other homeowners would see partial impacts. 

County staff endorsed the bypass route because an alternative route would have affected up to 112 homes, an apartment complex and a trailer park, Canizales said. Widening Route 28 would affect 90 properties that include 154 businesses, Canizales said. The cost to buy rights-of-way from those businesses make the widening option too expensive. 

Ross Snare, government relations director for the Prince William Chamber, said the chamber supports the project, because it will reduce morning delays, among other benefits. “We strongly encourage you to support this measure,” Snare told the board. 

Emily Sides covers Prince William County for InsideNoVa. Reach her at esides@insidenova.com.

(1) comment

Allen Muchnick

Something smells fishy with the environmental study for this Bypass, which has supposedly been actively underway for the past two years. The federal Draft Environmental Assessment had been scheduled for completion by Fall 2019, and staff said just last October that the US Army Corps of Engineers would evaluate the likelihood of granting a wetlands construction permit by last winter. Yet, until about one week ago, almost no reports from the environmental study had been posted on the study's website, and staff is now seeks to abandon and not complete the federal environmental assessment.

It also appears that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will revoke its $89 million allocation for this project if Prince William County does not execute a project agreement to start using this funding for preliminary engineering by September.

In short, I don't think County staff have been completely truthful about the environmental study, with either the public or the elected Board of County Supervisors. Building a four-lane divided highway through a fragile floodplain is a

risky and difficult project, and I suspect the final construction cost will greatly exceed $300 million, not counting the costs to fix the future bottlenecks that the Bypass would create at both its north and south ends.

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