by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

31 May 2013, p. 12

” ‘Right now, every day, at (US) 29 and (VA) 234 in the battlefield, traffic is backed up a couple of miles. Due to the historical nature of the battlefield, we’re prohibited from improving those roads. We’ve got to find a way to address the capacity outside that will lessen the congestion inside,’ said Sean Connaughton on May 20.

“The Virginia secretary of commerce [and former Prince Willaim Board of County Supervisors chairman) was speaking in a phone interview about plans to build the Tri-County Parkway through Prince William County from interstate 95 to west of Dulles International Airport in Loudoun County. The Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) plan would re-route US29 and VA234 traffic out of Manassas National Battlefield Park (MNBP), but the proposal has met with opposition from some elected federal and state officials and some western Prince William County residents.

“US Rep. Frank Wolf, (R-10th District) on May 10 asked Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell to have the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) delay decisions on the roadway, fearing it was ‘on a fast track,’ and that residents need to learn more about the project.

“VDOT will hold an information meeting June 3 at 6:30 p.m. in Hylton Performing Arts Center on the George Mason University Campus in Manassas. Gary Garczynski, who represents northern Virginia on the 17-member CTB, said May 17 a meeting also will be set up with residents of Pageland Lane near the corridor and that Wolf’s letter to the governor ‘warranted not only a response, but a meeting.’

“The congressman also asked the governor to get a cost-benefit analysis to determine ‘the cost versus any expected congestion relief and compare it to other proposed congestion relief projects in the area; especially those planned on I-66.’

“Wolf added he is concerned with the lack of transparency in the parkway process, the opening of the Rural Crescent to development, plans ‘to potentially close Routes 234 and 29 before the bypass around the park is completed’ and how up to 100 properties would be impacted if Pageland Lane were closed or limited. He noted if the North/South Corridor becomes a toll road as discussed, ‘it would mean four toll roads in northern Virginia-more than any other region of the state. Under no circumstances should this region face more tolls.’ He contended he has spoken with officials of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and concluded the roadway will not lead to an increase in press conference Apr. 29 at the Stone House at the battlefield are Del. Tim Hugo, (R-40th), Del. Bob Marshall, (R-13th); Del. Michael Webert, (R-18th); Sen. Dick Black, (R-13th); Sen. Richard Stuart, (R-28th), and Sen. Jill Vogel, (R-27th). In Prince William County Pete Candland, (R-Gainesville), and Mike May (R-Occoquan), said they are not in favor of the project. Both sit on the county’s board of supervisors.

“At its May 15 meeting, the CTB deferred to June 19 its decision to accept the North/South Corridor study. The Tri-County Parkway also is known as the North/South Corridor, the Bi-County Parkway, the outer beltway and the Battlefield Bypass.

” ‘The May 15 resolution was to accept the North/South corridor study, not bless it,’ reported Garczynski, who added the board may not ‘necessarily agree to all that’s in the study.’ He said about 15 people attended the CTB board meeting, and that some were for the parkway, while others were against it.

“Connaughton called the North/South study a ‘visioning document’ that will project ‘where and what will happen in 30 years.’ He explained the state is looking at ‘the land use plan of Prince William County and Loudoun County at Innovation, land west of Loudoun, residential planning of southeast Loudoun [and] what’s happening in Gainesville and Haymarket.’ He added that in June, the state would start procurement for express lanes, transit or rail ‘that would go down the middle’ on I-66 from the beltway to Haymarket.

” ‘In mid-June, we’ll issue a request for interest where we ask for proposals,’ the secretary noted. Connaughton pointed out the state’s six-year plan includes funding for the I-66/US 15 project.

“The proposed Tri-County Parkway would replace two-lane VA234 with a four-lane road.

” ‘We want to improve the transit connections in Loudon and Prince William County. The plans have been in the works at least 25 years, and we’re finally finishing all the studies to enable us to improve the transportation network and preserve the national battlefield. This is a major win for the residents of Prince William County and the preservation of hallowed ground,’ Connaughton remarked.

“Three overpasses are in the parkway plans. One would take VA234 over Balls Ford Road, the second would route VA 234 over US 29 and the third would go over VA 234 extended.

“The state official pointed out an extension of VA234 ‘has always been in plans.’

“Connaughton noted that road improvements would result in ‘no traffic lights from Heritage Hunt to Centreville. Rt. 29 would be free flowing. This will drastically improve mobility in western Prince William County. Every resident should be demanding we move as quickly as possible.’ “