5 Myths About the 6 Lane Widening of Belmont Ridge Road and Northstar Boulevard
Myth #1: This 6 lane widening scheme isn’t a step toward an outer beltway.
Fact: Although many may claim loudly that it’s not an outer beltway, the road lines up with connections that are being promoted to move traffic from I-95 up to the airport and Rt 7. Advocates are looking for a highway AND a bridge to Maryland and it was recently in the news that Virginia is discussing a crossing with Maryland.
Myth #2: This will enhance Loudoun’s economic development.
Fact: This is a developers’ enhancement scheme only. Property values and traffic patterns along the six lane roadway will be negatively impacted, including Lansdowne which shares an intersection with the planned road widening. That costs time and money and diminishes our attractiveness for businesses and the business executives and employees who live here with the rest of Loudoun residents. It will open up land for development in Loudoun and Prince William and will reduce the resources the state has for the most critical east-west transportation problems. New residential development will only worsen Loudoun’s debt burden of hundreds of millions of dollars due to previously approved overdevelopment.
Myth #3: This will address present and future traffic problems and protect historic Rt 15.
Fact: This is a scheme that will induce new traffic problems that now do not exist. An outer beltway would serve only a small fraction of all commuters traveling north into Loudoun or south to Prince William, since most travel east-west. In VDOT’s 1997 study to judge the ability of such a road to reduce existing Beltway traffic, there was a negligible decrease of 4% traffic on the Beltway and 1% on I-66, whereas segments of Rt 15, Rt 50, Rt 7 would all see increases. Rt 28 and roads east of Rt 28 were not analyzed. Our traffic problems today are east-west, not north-south.
Myth #4: This will reduce the traffic bottlenecks around Dulles Airport.
Fact: Loudoun’s traffic bottlenecks and the bottleneck affecting Dulles Airport is an east-west problem that this scheme will not address. Loudoun residents reach Dulles Airport via the Greenway and Route 28, so the expansion will not help them. This scheme does not take into account the impact of the Metro extension to Dulles. In fact, the plan is designed to increase, not alleviate, traffic to Dulles. In particular it seeks to increase truck traffic for increased air freight from Dulles, creating a whole new set of adverse impacts on the residents along Belmont Ridge.
Myth #5: This has been carefully evaluated for its environmental, community, and economic impacts.
Fact: With no public discussion or debate the Board voted unanimously to direct staff to prepare amendments to reverse the recently updated Countywide Transportation Plan and switch to six lanes for Belmont Ridge and Northstar. The Planning Commission then expedited its recommendation of approval to meet the rapid time line established by the Board of Supervisors who set their public hearing just two weeks later, right after the schools’ Spring Break! There have been no detailed analyses of the condemnation, property value, noise, pollution or other impacts of the expansion and the traffic model used by staff for traffic projections has been shown to be faulty.