The Outer Beltway — Water, Air & Climate Impacts

This email alert was sent out on November 21st, 2013:

Dear Supporter,

When you read or hear about the Bi-County Parkway (part of the larger Outer Beltway), the impact on Manassas National Battlefield and the people who live near the route often takes center stage. While these impacts are reason enough to stop the project, I think it’s important to also highlight the negative impact the project would have on water, air, and climate.

Because if you care about water or air, there really is no more important decision for the incoming administration then whether or not to build the Bi-County Parkway. View the letter >>

That’s why yesterday, we joined with more than a dozen prominent conservation organizations — including the National Wildlife Federation, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club — in submitting a joint letter to Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe. The letter points to the Bi-County Parkway as the project in Northern Virginia that would have the largest negative impact on the environment.

Send a Letter to Governor-Elect McAuliffe

Thank him for his commitment to supporting conservation efforts, the building of smart growth communities, and using our limited transportation dollars to serve our community’s most pressing needs. Ask him to pull the plug on transportation projects like the Bi-County Parkway, which fail to meet these standards. Ask him to prioritize projects that would improve traffic in Loudoun and Prince William.

The Often Overlooked Impacts

There are any number of reasons to oppose the Bi-County Parkway — most of which we’ve made in email alerts, public meetings, in the press, and in writing. However, I wanted to take a moment to zoom in on the water and air impacts.

Fixing traffic issue in Northern Virginia is a priority for everyone, including the new administration. But the Bi-County Parkway would actually make things worse. We’ve provided a list of projects that would make things better.

Water Quality and the Chesapeake Bay

Building the Bi-County Parkway would trigger a new speculative real estate development push in Northern Virginia. This conversion of rural land into scattered subdivisions, roads, and strip commercial development would be a significant blow to our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay and make it nearly impossible to make improvements in local water quality.

Air Quality and Climate Impact

According to VDOT’s own analysis, the Bi-County Parkway would increase vehicle miles traveled and traffic congestion within the study area compared to not building the highway at all. Increased driving adds to traffic and increases net energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

At a more local level, the highway would pass close to two newly constructed schools, subjecting the students to air and noise pollution. Recent EPA studies have shown that children experience significant harm from the hot-spot air pollution generated by nearby highways.

With the election of a new Governor, comes the opportunity to shift our State’s transportation priorities in a new direction. Wasteful mega-projects like the Bi-County Parkway, the Charlottesville Bypass, the new Route 460 Toll Road, and the Coalfields Expressway could all be put where they belong — on the shelf — or better yet, in the trash bin.

There are a host of transportation projects that would ease traffic congestion and make Northern Virginia a better place, and a more attractive place (to people and businesses). I think we should spend our money on those projects. I’m hopeful the incoming administration will make that a priority.


Chris Miller, President
The Piedmont Environmental Council