Image Source: Google Maps.
Loudoun County has been studying alternatives for the future of Route 15, and while they’ve said they want to preserve the historic and rural character of the road, county documents show their intent is a four-lane divided expressway, which would attract more traffic.
Here’s what’s being said:
- The county’s funding application to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority states: “By widening U.S. Route 15, the U.S. Route 15 corridor may become more attractive for those travelers wishing to move between the western portions of Northern Virginia and central and western Maryland. This benefit could be felt as far away as the American Legion Bridge carrying Interstate 495 over the Potomac River.”
- The county’s draft 2040 plan for future transportation classifies Rt 15 north of Leesburg as a Principal Arterial – Expressway that features “50 MPH design speed, Highly-Controlled at-grade access, with local access provided via other roads or, where alternative access is not available, via consolidated multi-parcel access points and left- and right- turn lanes at all intersections.”
- The county’s federal BUILD grant application states: “The improvements to the corridor will address access to the roadway by limiting it to key intersection locations, widening shoulders, and providing a median to separate oncoming traffic from potential conflict.”
- The county is proposing first to widen Route 15 to Tutt Lane, and then to Montresor Road, at a cost of $81 million. Another proposal would widen Route 15 to Stumptown Road and add a western bypass around Lucketts. See both concept maps >>
We all agree that Route 15 should be safer and less congested, but converting it to four lanes with a median and traffic lights will mean:
- Higher speeds and higher crash risk at traffic lights
- Continued backups at the traffic lights
- Farm roads and residential driveways will lose left turn access out of and into their properties
- More traffic from Maryland and more speculative development.
There is a better way!
County residents have consistently called for improved safety, greater ease in getting to and from home, protecting Lucketts, and ensuring safety for students at schools along the corridor. They’ve also heard residents’ clear desire to preserve the look and feel of the rural roadway, maintain the countryside, and protect the limestone karst geology and our drinking water quality. To achieve this result, we need to:
- Add roundabouts at key intersections (starting at White’s Ferry Rd) while keeping the road two lanes — traffic will flow better (reduce delays 62-74%), access onto and off Route 15 will be easier, and crash risks will be reduced 39% at intersections (with 75% fewer injuries and 90% fewer fatalities. source: VDOT)
- Add other traffic calming tools such as gateway features slowing traffic near commercial areas, trees, and grassy but strengthened shoulders — which will moderate speeds and improve safety
Loudoun’s Route 50 traffic-calming project which includes the roundabouts at Gilbert’s Corner has eliminated two mile backups and made the road much safer.
Unfortunately, the county hasn’t studied this option for the full corridor from Leesburg to Point of Rocks, and it is imperative that they do so before locking the County into an expressway that will forever alter the character of this corridor.
In a previous alert we asked you to give the Loudoun Board your reaction to the specific proposal to 4-lane Rt. 15 North to Montresor Road. They are also studying the full road to Point of Rocks. Both options include a combination of 2 and 4 lanes with controlled access via a divided roadway design. Instead, ask them to support an alternative that adds a roundabout at White’s Ferry, and maintains 2-lanes with additional roundabouts and traffic calming throughout the scenic corridor to improve safety, flow, and access at far less cost to the taxpayer.
Already taken action? Donate towards the cause >>
Letters to the Editor:
- By Journey Through Hallowed Ground Op Ed, Sept. 10
- By John Adams, Sept. 8
- By Rosemary Lawler, August 23
- By Gladys Lewis, Aug. 10
- Route 15 North of Leesburg: A Closer Look at the Effects of Widening — Prepared by Smart Mobility, September 2018
- Approved signage maps for Phase 1A (additional northbound lane to Tutt Lane)
- Joint Letter to the Loudoun BOS from 8/31/18 – Letter from the Catoctin Coalition, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Coalition for Smarter Growth, PEC and the Southern Environmental Law Center
- Letter from the Rural Economic Development Council from 8/30/2018
- Toole Design Group Memo from 8/28/18 – Re: Options for constructing a roundabout at Hwy 15/Whites Ferry Road
- Rt. 15 Partner Notes – Summaries from August 13, 2018 meeting
- Lucketts News & Notes, Special Edition on Rt 15 Improvement Process
- PEC’s May 2018 email alert about the White’s Ferry roundabout >>
- VDOT roundabout page >>
- VDOT video on roundabouts >>