The Piedmont View

We can use transportation dollars to invest in our cities, towns and neighborhoods—making them great places to live. To do so, we need to offer first-class transit options, improve local road networks, and enhance east-west routes to solve Northern VA’s commuter gridlock. Or, we can waste our funds on new highways that ignore existing traffic problems, spread sprawl, and ultimately put more cars on the road.
 


 

Not so smart growth in Northern VA?

VDOT is pushing to revive the Outer Beltway, a major highway in Northern Virginia that has had many names over the years, including the Washington Bypass, Western Transportation Corridor, Tri-County Parkway, Bi-County Parkway, and the 234 Bypass.

PEC’s take? No matter what you call it, this is the most important land use decision in Northern Virginia in the next five years. This controversial highway would cut through a National Park, open up over 100,000 acres of rural and farm land to new development, and has the potential to actually increase traffic congestion on other roads. Making matters worse, it will likely make investments in metro and transit-oriented development more difficult to fund.

Jim Rich, a former member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, remembers when this project first came up in the early ‘90s: “Even back then it was recognized that the underlying purpose of this project was not to alleviate traffic congestion, but to open up land in Stafford, Prince William and Loudoun Counties for additional residential development,” Rich says. “...to take new taxes amounting $1 to 2 billion from hard-pressed taxpayers for this project—which would actually make traffic worse for them—would be a gross breach of trust with Virginians.”
 


 

C-Ville’s Western Bypass—Not a done deal

Charlottesville’s proposed ‘Western Bypass’ has hit some speed bumps. Last fall, the EPA questioned the draft Environmental Assessment for the project. In December, the Army Corps of Engineers wrote a damning letter—outlining the insufficiencies of that assessment, and the fact that VDOT has not adequately compared the Bypass to alternatives—such as the community’s “Places29” plan: “It is clear that the alternatives analysis is based on information that is between 10 and 20 years old, and needs to be updated to reflect current conditions and alternatives.”

Both the EPA and Corps of Engineers clearly state what Bypass opponents have long argued: the draft Environmental Assessment is insufficient and calls into question the effectiveness of the Western Bypass.

But there’s more. In January, VDOT reported a historic African-American family cemetery in the Bypass path, which they missed in their ‘88 survey and now plan to remove.

Direct descendants of the Hemings family from Monticello lie to rest in that cemetery. VDOT previously moved the path of the Bypass for a couple of cemeteries— including a pet cemetery—but is showing little sign of rethinking their plans after this latest discovery.

What you can do:

Our communities deserve well-planned, community-based transportation solutions — not wasteful projects like the Outer Beltway or the Western Bypass.

Please contact Senators Tim Kaine & Mark Warner today. Ask our Senators to weigh in with the Federal Highway Administration—letting them know that these projects do not deserve Virginia’s tax dollars and limited transportation funding.

 
 
 

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