by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

17 May 2013, pp. 5-6

“Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) plan to build the Tri-County Parkway (TCP) through Prince William County to west of Dulles International Airport met with strong opposition May 2 from area state legislators and many of the more than 200 people who crowded into Bull Run Middle School to voice their opinions. Some 22 people spoke at the meeting.

“The planned roadway also is called the Bi-County Parkway (BCP), the outer beltway, North-South Corridor and Battlefield Bypass.

“Those speaking out against the proposal included Del. Time Hugo, (R-40), whose district includes Manassas National Battlefield Park; Del. Robert (Bob) Marshall, (R-13), who represented the Manassas National Battlefield Park area before the 2012 redistricting; Pete Candland, who represents Gainesville District on Prince William Board of County Supervisors; Alyson Satterwhite, Gainesville District member on the Prince William County School Board; and meeting organizers Philomena Hefter, Paige Snyder and Mary Ann Ghadban.

“Hugo noted ‘some of the business community is upset’ with opposition to the parkway. The chambers of commerce of both Prince William and Loudoun counties issued a joint press release April 29, calling the roadway ‘essential to the area’s future.’

“Hugo told his audience the bypass route would close VA 234 and US 29 in the area, which ‘would be a disaster for every commuter on I-66.’ He added that what VDOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) are doing ‘will impact people’s lives and property values, and we’re going to stop that right now….The fight starts tonight.’

“In an April 29 press release, Hugo noted the CTB, a 17-member board, allocates the state’s funding for all transportation projects. Because of the bypass route near Manassas National Battlefield Park (MNBP), he pointed out many discussions have been held with the National Park Service (NPS).

“The citizens’ group against the parkway contends ‘VDOT is giving $3 million to the battlefield o purchase property and conservation easements along the Tri-County Parkway and the Battlefield.’

“The group said the parkway also would close off residents’ access to Pageland Lane and US 29, that VA 234 would close between Northern Virginia Community College and Featherbed Lane, that the by-pass is planned as a toll road, that Catharpin Road would become a major cut through for traffic headed to Gainesville and that area property values will plummet because no one wants to live near a major highway.

” ‘When the land gets cheap enough, the battlefield can take it at a huge reduction. Prince William Board of Supervisors voted against this route years ago. Now, they ignore their responsibility to stay informed and represent their constituents as evidenced by their lack of knowledge of road closures,’ the group asserts in literature provide to the media at the meeting.

“Hugo told the May 2 meeting the parkway is a ‘move to provide a cut through for cargo traffic to Dulles Airport.’  He added the bypass also ‘will destroy the Rural Crescent, land that Prince William Board of County Supervisors has pledge to protect, will take property away from over 100 landowners just in the Gainesville District and will siphon monies away from critical transportation needs such as I-66.’ The delegate likened opposition to the bypass to ‘the new Battle of Manassas.’

“Candland said that as one of ten children, he had to learn to fight for what he wanted, and that he does not like ‘being pushed around. I’ll continue to fight to make sure our voices are heard.’

“Marshall opined that there has to be a better way to get Dulles without condemning property, calling the project, ‘a rush to judgment.’

“He contended that a better solution would be doubling the exiting capacity of the VA 28 exits from I-66, building a grade separated interchange to relieve the backup form congestion at Walney Road/Braddock Road and VA 28 which spills onto I-66 and spending $5 million to build reversible lanes to relieve congestion on VA 28 between the Fairfax County line and Manassas Park.

“At an April 29 press conference, Marshall reported that CTB member Gary Garczynski said at a town hall meeting in March ‘that both UPS and FedEx endorsed this road. I spoke with a representative from UPS who is in charge of transportation for UPS in Northern Virginia. He knew nothing about this and resented the fact that it had been implied that UPS endorsed this road.’

” ‘Additionally, at a recent Prince William Committee of 100 meeting, Mr. Garczynski stated that the Commonwealth Transportation Board had not endorsed a plan to close Rt. 234 and Rt. 29 through the Manassas Battlefield Park prior to the Bi-County Parkway/Battlefield By-pass being completed… there are documents available which show the CTB voted for exactly that in February of this year. This lack of candor has to stop,’ Marshall asserted in his press release.

“He called the proposed parkway ‘a developers’ road,’ saying he ‘would like to know who currently owns the property that would be purchased for the right-of-way, and who has taken options to purchase property along the right-of-way. I believe that it is primarily developers and that rather than helping create a road to move traffic in a timely manner, this would be an opening for extensive development which would only create more traffic problems.’

“Marshall asked his audience at the middle school to contact their county supervisors, since they would be the ones voting for the road closures.

“In her remarks, Hefter reported the CTB adopted resolutions for the Tri-County Parkway in 2005 and for the battlefield by-pass in 2006 and then began a total of five meetings. She added a programmatic agreement is only for historic properties along the TCP, which runs between I-66 and Artemus Road along Pageland Lane.

“Hefter explained VDOT put out a first draft of its plan last July, and that Ghadban, Snyder and she got involved.

” ‘The programmatic agreement negotiated by NPS and VDOT diffuses what can be done to minimize and mitigate the impacts of this 4-6-lane cargo route to Dulles on the battlefield, but does not even consider the local residents. It has been in the works between VDOT and NPS for more than two years, hidden from the community. It dictates changes to our local transportation network that will bring havoc and bring our roads to gridlock. The Feb. 2013 (CTB) resolution changed the commitments the counties of PWC and Fairfax thought they had agreed to in Nov. 2005. Namely, the Battlefield By-pass would be built before Sudley Road was abandoned by VDOT within the park,’ according to Hefter.

“Snyder reported that, ‘unfortunately, VDOT, the National Park Service and chairman Corey Stewart declined our invitation to listen to you and answer your questions’ at the May 2 meeting. Stewart is chairman of Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

” ‘VDOT and the (CTB) and the chamber of commerce will tell you that this road is a done deal. They are trying to misdirect, mislead and fast track us into thinking this is a lost cause. I am here to tell you that that is not true,’ Snyder said.

“Ghadban asserted that ‘what’s going on here is bad business, bad government and bad planning.’  She noted she’s a lifelong county resident who has been a land developer and a commercial real estate broker in the county for more than 30 years.

” ‘The reason the battle is so intense is because VDOT and park service have gotten in bed together to put this road through the historic district and 6.5 miles of the Rural Crescent. They are bullying the residents of PWC in order to meet all of the demands of the park service without any regard to what they do to a community, transportation network or private property,’ Ghadban reported. She added the Pageland portion of the parkway ‘is the missing link for the outer beltway, plain and simple.’

“Ghadban asserted the Tri-County Parkway would affect all county residents from Montclair to Dominion Valley.

” ‘It will turn Rt. 234 from Montclair, past Purcell Road, into the outer beltway,’ she added.

“During citizen comment at the meeting, John Stirrup pointed out he was ‘a staunch supporter’ of the Rural Crescent. He previously represented Gainesville District on the county’s board of supervisors. He said he’s against closing US 29 and VA 234.

“Linda Budreika, Dominion Valley, told the meeting the by-pass ‘was done in the dark of night,’ and that ‘there’s nothing in this for Prince William County.’

“A Sanders Lane resident said his daily commute to Washington, DC, is worth it. He added he wants the names of those who are making money from the roadway.

” ‘To find a crook, follow the money,’ he remarked.

“Mac Haddow said, ‘Jim Rich got fired for fighting back’ against the bypass. Rich, who attended the meeting, said he was ‘fired’ from the CTB for opposing the bypass and another project in the Charlottesville area.

“Philip Harrover, who said he’s spent 73 years in the county, questioned how one of the meeting’s organizers, Mary Ann Ghadban, would get out of her property if roads are closed.

“A woman who said she’s the program director for Sudley United Methodist Church on VA 234 questioned how church members would get onto their property.

” ‘We’re not a museum. We’re a living, breathing congregation,’ she pointed out.

“Bob Weir, a former Haymarket council member, said he was surprised to find himself on the same side of the issue as Ghadban.

” ‘VDOT lies,’ Weir commented. ‘We need to take action now. We need to organize delaying tactics at least until November.’

“A Lawnville Road resident asked how the parkway would affect schools, noting her 15-year-old student had attended ‘three different elementary schools.’

“Satterwhite explained there are no more schools planned north of I-66, and that existing roadways would become overloaded. At the county’s eastern end, both Pattie Elementary School and Washington-Reid Elementary School would have a six-lane road in front of them.

” ‘The road is not in the county’s best interest. The economic best interest of Prince William County would not be served. There’s no economic benefit to the county,’ Satterwhite asserted.

“Patricia Bradburn remarked that the battlefield is public land, that VA 234 and US 29 need to be kept open and that ‘we should not have our future destroyed by our history.’ “