Outer Beltway Update

The Bi-County Parkway project, a key component of the Outer Belt­way scheme, is on hold… for now.

The pause in activity stems from VDOT’s need to develop a ranking system for transportation projects, something required by the congestion relief bill that passed during the 2014 General Assem­bly session. VDOT has said that ranking system won’t be finalized until some time next year, perhaps spring 2015.

While the pause is welcome, there was a concerning statement made by Governor McAuliffe at a speech earlier this summer, and reported in the press, that indicates he believes the road would receive high marks once the ranking is established. Governor McAu­liffe concluded his statement with, “We have to open up Dulles airport.”

Of course this news was applauded by developers and Dulles boosters alike, but it is a far cry from McAuliffe’s past statements, in which he said, “I have no say on it. All of these [transportation] projects are getting put into a prioritiza­tion process. The system will determine whether we do the project or not.”

Given that the traffic problems in Northern Virginia are largely east/west in nature, it’s important to keep asking: Who is this north/south bound Outer Beltway really for? Is it the best use of limited transportation funds? What are the impacts to existing and future residents of our region?

Meanwhile, the Department of Interior is re-engaging on the envi­ronmental reviews for the Manassas Battlefield Bypass. Since a segment of the Battlefield Bypass shares an align­ment with the Bi-County Parkway, this environmental review could help pave the way for both roads. PEC believes that encircling the national park with highways is not a good outcome for nearby residents or visitors to the National Park, and we continue to push for a solution that addresses the conges­tion of the area while best protecting this important historic resource.

This article was featured in our Fall 2014 Member Newsletter, The Piedmont View.