The following text is from a January 6th Email alert:
New Year, Familiar Problem — The Outer Beltway
I hope the beginning of the new year finds you well and geared up for the year ahead. Winter in Virginia marks the beginning of the General Assembly –this Wednesday, January 9th– and all of the fun that comes with it. However, today I am writing to update you on VDOT's push for the 'Outer Beltway'.
VDOT's big picture plan
As I recently told Martin Di Caro of National Public Radio (NPR): the Outer Beltway, a major new highway east of Rt. 15 and west of Rt. 28, is one of the worst expenditures Virginia could make with very limited dollars. Martin's two part story on VDOT's proposal ran over the holidays, but you can also read it online — part 1 and part 2.
I continue to believe this is the most important land use decision that will be made in northern Virginia in the next 5 years. The Outer Beltway would open up ~100,000 acres of relatively open land in eastern Loudoun and the Prince William "rural crescent" to development, cut through a National Park, make investments in metro and transit-oriented development more difficult to fund, and at the end of the day, is very likely to make traffic on east-to-west roads like Rt. 50 and Rt. 66 even worse.
Public Meeting Tuesday the 8th,
Written Comment Due on the 18th
While many of us were readying for the holidays, VDOT decided to have two open houses the week before Christmas, to gather 'public input' on their Outer Beltway plan. We were skeptical at the timing of the meetings, but not surprised at their presentation.
Out of context, the goals and objectives VDOT gave, such as supporting economic growth and promoting safe travel sound great. But when you consider that this high speed highway would have a price tag in the billions, cut through the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park, increase truck traffic through Prince William and Loudoun, and not relieve east-west traffic issues, you form a different opinion.
VDOT is holding a third meeting tomorrow night, January 8th, from 6:30-8:30pm, at the Four Points Sheraton Manassas Battlefield, to present a revised plan. We hope you are able to attend and submit written comments by their deadline of January 18th. Give your written comments at the meeting or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although VDOT's presentation tries to create the impression that future development in Northern Virginia will be west of Dulles, the reality is the vast majority of jobs and travel will continue to be in towards Fairfax, Arlington, and D.C. Committing to a new Outer Beltway will make it more difficult to fund and implement the transportation and land use decisions that are critical to relieving existing congestion.
Chris Miller, President
Piedmont Environmental Council
P.S. Stay tuned next week for an update on all things Virginia General Assembly
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