The Outer Beltway is a road proposal for a second beltway, further out than I-495, that has been repeatedly attempted since the 1980's. It has failed repeatedly because studies have again and again shown that the road would encourage more sprawl and not reduce traffic congestion. The reason for this is that most of the traffic congestion in our region needs to move east-west, while this road would be north-south through those areas.
Developing the outer beltway would result in the road determining where future development will be rather than the development determining where a road is needed. Rural lands that the road crosses through would now have the infrastructure available to develop into suburbs which will result in more people and cars. Unfortunately an outer beltway only encourages deconcentrated, sprawling development of more suburbs, which will not reach the critical densities necessary to create trade areas sufficient to support retail and service businesses. Major job centers would likely remain in the east and new residents, attracted to the developments, would take the outer beltway to the east-west routes and join our existing traffic, making congestion problems worse rather than better.
Despite this, the state and localities are currently piecing together the outer beltway through a series of actions.
- They have revived the TriCounty Parkway/BiCounty Parkway study focused on the primary route from the 234 bypass interchange at I-66, running due north to Route 50 and traveling on the western boundary of the Kirkpatrick Farms development.
- They approved a state “Corridor of Statewide Significance”, generally a designation reserved for major Interstates like I-66 and I-95, for the yet undeveloped route of the Outer Beltway. Here is the Feb 16, 2011 quote from Commonwealth Transportation Board member Garczinski, explaining the resolution:
“And I would add that just for clarification purposes our intention is to seek a resolution adding a North-South connection from 95 or 234 extended up to a corridor, up to and including Route 50 and you just passed a resolution on the widening of 50 — that would extend Route 234 to Route 50 to join what is called the Dulles Loop that gives access to Dulles Airport to more people from the south. It also provides access from Dulles Airport and northern Virginia to the George Mason University campus in Prince William County and Innovation Park which is being patterned after Research Triangle in Raleigh North Carolina, all I think very much to enhance the economic viability of the Commonwealth in that area. So that’s what we’re pursuing.” (Innovation Park is a few thousand acre Prince William office and factory center that is partially built).
- A second crossing over the Potomac has long been discussed and considered a high priority transportation issue for the Virginia. In the 2012 General Assembly we saw a bill HJ131 sponsored by Loudoun Delegate Randy Minchew, proposing a study of a Potomac River bridge crossing from Loudoun to Maryland. That specific proposal cited a crossing at Rt. 28 but a crossing at Belmont Ridge and Loudoun County Parkway has also been considered.
- During the Commonwealth Transportation Board discussions in 2011 – it was explained that a primary goal of the Outer Beltway is to support massive expansion of freight shipments from Dulles Airport. A second connection with Dulles Airport is also one of main arguments being used by proponents for expanding the plan for Belmont Ridge Rd. to six lanes instead of four.
- A couple of weeks ago, Deputy Secretary Tyerar came all the way to Loudoun from Richmond to talk to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors about the importance of the “Corridor of Statewide Significance” from I-95 to Route 7 for continued economic development in the county.