A Chance to “Take a Second Look”
During his campaign, Governor McAuliffe said he would take a hard-look at the controversial $440 million Bi-County Parkway, reevaluating this project and others proposed by VDOT. In his campaign platform, under the section titled “Pick the right projects; build the best ones,” he stated:
“We need to strategically prioritize what we’re building and where. We should look at our current and proposed transportation expenditures from top to bottom and support those which should move forward and pull the plug when they don’t make sense.”
In deference to the change in administration, state and federal historic preservation agencies elected not to sign the Section 106 Programmatic Agreement — a proposed set of measures to mitigate the harm to Manassas National Battlefield Park and the Manassas Battlefield Historic District, and one of the key steps required for the highway to advance. This delay is appropriate and creates the opportunity to take a second look at the merits of the Bi-County Parkway proposal relative to the damage it would cause, and to evaluate alternatives that will better address the interests of residents, commuters, state taxpayers, and the historic Manassas Battlefield.
During the past two years, as state and federal agencies, local residents, and historic preservation and conservation groups sought to come up with a set of measures to minimize the harmful impacts of the proposed new highway, one thing has become clear: it is impossible to adequately mitigate the tremendous damage that would be inflicted on the Battlefield and the community from the additional traffic, noise, and destruction of rural and historic landscape.
What’s needed is an alternative approach that will reduce traffic near and through the Battlefield, using the tools of zoning, conservation, and upgrades to existing roads. Meanwhile, we should focus our scarce transportation resources on enhancing the capacity of major commuter routes like I-66, Route 50 and Route 28, using a combination of HOV, rail and bus transit, and alleviating key bottlenecks at interchanges and other locations.
We look forward to working with the new Governor, General Assembly members, local elected officials and residents to take a second look at the transportation issues in the area and to design a solution that will better serve residents, commuters, and state taxpayers, while protecting one of our most hallowed and irreplaceable historic places.