The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has been working on improvements to the safety and operations of Route 15 North of Leesburg since 2017. The county has held several public meetings and input sessions during the last four years. Right now, Loudoun residents have a chance to provide input on the decision to pursue either a western or eastern bypass around Lucketts.
There are two design options for a western bypass. Residents are being offered a two-lane (Option A) or four-lane (Option B) bypass that would run from Rt. 15 south of the village to Stumptown Road. From that point, both options consist of two lanes (with or without a median) north of Stumptown Road back to Rt. 15 north of the village. Although the precise alignment and location of the bypass would be determined during the design phase of the project, a western bypass would have far more detrimental impacts than other options to village residents and to a long-sought nature preserve established by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.
A potential location for the proposed eastern bypass, would go from Rt. 15 south of the park to behind the elementary school and cross Lucketts Rd as shown on the map below, but the precise location and alignment would be determined later. The concept has generated concern from potentially impacted residents and businesses.
These proposals would be costly, which may be why VDOT has put forward an alternative, less expensive eastern bypass option. This new VDOT alternative would run from Rt. 15 between the park and school, go behind the school, and end at Lucketts Rd with a roundabout.
Maps of the Bypass Proposals:
Click through for the western and eastern bypass options.
The Piedmont Environmental Council does not agree with four-laning to Lucketts or that any bypass of the village is necessary. Along with partner groups, we have been weighing in on improvements for Rt. 15 North from the beginning, and advocating for a traffic calming approach along this corridor, similar to that on Rt. 50 west of Lenah. There, such measures have been effective in reducing intersection backups and accidents without road widening or bypassing Middleburg. Further, we believe four lanes will encourage faster speeds, reducing safety, and result in a bottleneck heading into Maryland that will further exacerbate traffic problems in the area. In addition, a bypass would threaten businesses in the heart of the village by reducing visitorship. But so far, the county has not budged on its plan to go with this four-laning + bypass approach.
Public input is always key, two years have elapsed since the original decision, and there is now a different board of supervisors at the helm. County staff are actively seeking input from community members prior to July 23 to gauge preferences in regards to a western or eastern bypass. This is your opportunity to weigh in for a different, better outcome.
You can do this easily online: Take the survey about the Lucketts bypass >>
There is also an opportunity to weigh in on the larger Rt. 15 – Phase 2 Comprehensive Plan Amendment. Learn more about that below!
A Little Background on the Lucketts Bypass Proposals
When asked previously in surveys and community meetings, Lucketts residents and businesses rejected what was known as “Option B”—four lanes from Rt. 15 south of the village to Stumptown Road and two lanes, with a median, north of Stumptown Road back to Rt. 15 north of the village. However, this is the option that was selected by the board of supervisors; it was popular with folks not directly affected. No consensus or community discussion about village preferences ever occurred. Subsequent to those surveys and community meetings, VDOT put forth a totally new alternative that offers some of the benefits of an eastern bypass at a significantly reduced cost, but this option hasn’t yet been presented to or discussed with the community.
To create even more confusion and disconnect, a different VDOT office is holding its own online public meeting on July 29 to discuss its own plans for design changes on Rt. 15 in Lucketts (with funds allocated years ago but never used).
There appears to be no coordination between this effort, the county’s comprehensive plan amendment including an eastern or western bypass with four-laning, and the new VDOT alternative above.
First and foremost, the Lucketts community deserves to have a coordinated, intentional and transparent process. Relevant state and local agencies should host a community discussion of the impacts associated with each of the options/alternatives. This would allow residents to voice concerns and objections as well as have local and state reps available to address questions related to potential impacts. The final outcome should be endorsed by Lucketts residents and businesses since it will directly impact their daily lives and livelihoods.
Second, a western bypass should be taken off the table in order to focus on the options preferred by the community.
The Bypass is Part of the Larger Picture on Rt. 15 North
The county has broken the Rt. 15 North project into two phases, and has approved and adopted the comprehensive plan amendment for the first phase, which entails four-lanes from Battlefield Parkway to Montresor Rd along with other changes. The design concept for Phase 2 (Option B) that was chosen by the former Board of Supervisors would extend four lanes even farther north, from Montresor to Lucketts and including a partially four-lane bypass around the village.
Phase 2 includes the balance of Rt. 15 to the Maryland State line with a median-divided two-lane road from Lucketts to St. Clair, and two lanes undivided from there to the river with a light at Lovettsville Rd. at the Point of Rocks bridge. See map for Option B. Maryland, in the meantime, has no interest or intention to widen the bridge or Rt. 15 on the Maryland side, which means these multiple lanes would have to merge down into the existing two-lane bridge.
The current board of supervisors has directed county staff to start the public process to amend the comprehensive plan and adopt this Phase 2 concept. The county’s Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure held a one-hour online public input session this June and the public input period on the overall plan for Phase 2 continues through this Friday, July 23, 2021. See the maps for Option B (chosen by the Board) and Option A.
Aside from not being favored by the Lucketts community, Option B has other problems, including its expensive price tag and the fact that it would only shift traffic congestion farther north.
Spending the VDOT-estimated $300 million for Option B is a poor use of taxpayer money.
The county can save money by using less costly alternatives to immediately improve safety on Route 15 and meet the needs of Lucketts residents and businesses. This would free up funds for other transportation projects near Metro and elsewhere.
Take action now to express your own views: Provide input on Rt. 15 North – Phase 2 (by July 23, 2021) >>
If you have questions related to the Rt. 15 North or the Lucketts Bypass proposal, please don’t hesitate to reach out to PEC’s Loudoun County field representative Gem Bingol at firstname.lastname@example.org.