by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

14 June 2013, pp. 1, 15, 16

“More than 700 people crowded into Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas June 3 to hear Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) report on the Tri-County Parkway (TCP). Only two of the almost 40 people who spoke from the audience expressed support for the 10.4 mile roadway.

“Prince William Board of County Supervisors at its June 4 meeting voted to remove the TCP from the list it sends to VDOT as part of the six year program allocation. Several residents addressed the board on the TCP during citizens’ time and all spoke against it.

“The TCP water run north of interstate 66 from the VA 234 interchange in Prince William County to route 50 in Loudon County, west of the Dulles International Airport.

“Also under discussion at that VDOT meeting was the North-South Coordinator Master Plan study, which looks at a 45-mile road network from Interstate 95 in eastern Prince William County to Rt. 7 in Loudoun County, and the Manassas National Battlefield Park (MNBP) bypass, which allow for the closure of VA 234 and 29 in the park and rerouting of both roads outside the park.

“The North-South Corridor is mainly east and west of VA 234 between I-95 and I-66.

“The battlefield bypass on the park’s western edge would run from I-66 to Sudley Road and have the same alignment as the TCP. In 2005, the National Park Service held a public hearing on the plan, and VOT will pay $4 million toward its design. No federal funding has been set aside for the bypass, according to VDOT information available at the June 3 meeting.

“Charles Kilpatrick, VDOT’s chief deputy commissioner was in charge of the June 3 session. He told the audience the TCO would not have tolls and would not introduce development in to the Rural Crescent at I-66, US 29 and existing VA 234 west of the battlefield. He added there is $12 million available for road design, but no construction schedule.

“VA 234 would be widened and relocated 2.5 miles west of the battlefield. The part of VA 234 running through the park would close to through traffic, but remain open for access to private property.

“US 29 through the battlefield would not close when the TCP is built, Kilpatrick assured the crowd. The Manassas Battlefield Bypass would relocate US 29 outside the park when it is built, but there is no construction funding for the bypass.

“The VDOT official also explained there is at least $300,000 set aside for traffic calming measures on US 29, and that work would be finished before the TCP opens. Public input will be sought, and US 29 traffic will not be affected, he added. Kilpatrick also noted Pageland Lane would not close.

“The state official said removing major bottleneck at VA 234 and US29 at the Stone House would improve MNBP, and that the National Park Service (NPS) supports the TCP because traffic would be shifted out of the park’s center to its periphery.

“Sudley Methodist Church on VA 234, as well as other local property owners, would have access to their properties both during and after the TCP is built. Directional signs to the historic church will be put up on the TCP. At previous meetings on the TCP, church members have voiced concern that their congregation would be negatively impacted by the parkway.

“When it comes to VA 234 south of I-66, Kilpatrick reported VDOT is studying projects to grade separate VA 234 at Balls Ford Road and Prince William County’s comprehensive plan calls for VA 234 to be widened to six lanes from I-95 to I-66, but that no formal plans or money exists.

“During public comment on the VDOT presentation, Sen. Charles ‘Chuck’ Colgan, (D-29th District), got applause when he contended he didn’t want to see VA 234 or US 29 ‘closed anytime.’

“Del. Robert ‘Bob’ Marshall, (R-13th District), told Kilpatrick VDOT ‘is three years too late’ with its presentation on the TCP. He added information was lacking from the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), the 17-memberboard which allocates all funding for state transportation projects, and that ‘a lack of transparency’ has plagued the TCP project.

” ‘Who has options on the land,’ Marshall asked in speaking of the TCP route through two counties. He said he has asked for information from the state, but gotten ‘different answers from different people.’

“The delegate asserted that Gov. Robert ‘Bob’ McDonnell has said freight users at Dulles Airport want the TCP. Marshall noted he contacted both Fed Ex and UPS, and that Fed Ex ‘didn’t know about the project, and that UPS did not support it and was not pleased VDOT said it supported it.’

“Vicky Hull spoke for Del. Tim Hugo, (R-40th District), pointing out he believes the TCP is ‘an ill-conceived project that squanders precious transportation dollars.’

“Audience member Steve Ward asked what would be done to address backups on I-66 west at rush hour. He said closing VA 29 would worsen traffic on I-66.

“A man in the audience reported Featherbed Lane is used as a cut through from VA 234 to US 29, even though part of the road is gravel. Kilpatrick asserted he ‘is amazed at the traffic on this one,’ and that ‘people are using unpaved roads as cut throughs.’ He added there are no plans to close or restrict Featherbed Lane or Groveton Road.

“Linda Budreika called the TCP process ‘insulting.’ She alleged the ‘north-south corridor has been on the books before and has failed.’ She said that with each failure, the roadway has been given a new name.

” ‘We’ll kill this road again. The road is fatally flawed and an insult to the tax-paying public,’ she contended.

“Mac Haddow reported Prince William Chamber of Commerce has said that ‘only a small group’ is opposed to the TCP.  No one from the chamber spoke at the meeting.

” ‘This (road) is a non-starter and a huge mistake,’ Haddow observed.

“Martha Hendley, a former member of Prince William County Planning Commission, asked what would happen to other roads in the area when some roads are closed. She added ‘What else is there in these plans that we don’t know about yet?’

“Robert Weir, Haymarket, told Kilpatrick, ‘VDOT is facing a crisis of confidence. No one here has confidence in you.’  He asserted, ‘everything in this project is a moving target.’

“Pageland Lane resident Phyllis Thompson explained the TCP wouldn’t help her, since she travels to Maryland, not Loudon County. She said the TCP ‘will destroy the Catharpin community.’

“Allyson Satterwhite, a member of the county’s school board, contended economic development in the county would be hurt if VA 234 is closed inside the battlefield, and that the closure would shift traffic to US 15.

” ‘We don’t have the capacity for the kind of traffic you’re forcing on us,’ she noted.

“Page Snyder observed that the area’s chambers of commerce have said the TCP is needed for the future.

” ‘They’re creating the future of more strip malls. We’re being sold a bill of goods. Never doubt the power of the people,’ she added.

“Mary Ann Ghadban, Pageland Lane, spoke against what she termed ‘the taking of private property for economic gain.’

“Ed Clark, MNBP superintendent, said June 6 much of the information the public has received on the TCP is ‘bad or out of date.’  He explained he asked Hugo to visit the park, but ‘he never did.’  He said he spoke with Marshall a few times on the telephone, but has had no contact with him since 2011.

“US Cong. Frank Wolf, (R-10th District), ‘has been kept up to date for years on what the park is doing,’ Clark said. On May 14, the congressman issued a press release, asking the governor to delay plans for the north-south corridor until area residents have a chance to learn more about the project.

“Clark noted VDOT has never supported making VA 234 four lanes through the battlefield. He said VA 234 through the park only would be closed when the TCP is finished and opened. He explained US 29 is part of the Manassas Bypass project, not part of the TCP project.

“VDOT plans to give the park service $3 million to purchase preservation easements along the historic corridor, Clark reported.

“MNBP has 650,000 visitors each year and contributes $10 million to the local economy, according to Clark.

“The park also is responsible for adding 175 to 200 jobs locally for hotels, restaurants and retail establishments.

“The superintendent said he and VDOT representatives were planning to meet with Sudley United Methodist Church members on June 10.”