“Board looks at new ways to preserve Rural Crescent” by Hillary Chester, Prince William Times, 30
“Board looks at new ways to preserve Rural Crescent” by Hillary Chester, Prince William Times, 30
“The controversial planned Bi-County Parkway was dealt yet another blow this week.
“In a surprise move Tuesday, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 3 to remove the future 10-mile roadway from the county’s long-range planning blueprint, known as the ‘comprehensive plan.’
“The vote was unexpected because the board verbally agreed March 8 to open a public hearing on matter Tuesday but delay their vote until April 5 because Chairman Corey Stewart, R-At Large, said he would be traveling for business and would not be able to attend the March 15 meeting.
“But those plans apparently changed when the road’s opponents realized they had the votes needed to extract the Bi-County Parkway from the comprehensive plan.
“The vote split mostly along party lines, with Republican Supervisors Ruth Anderson, Occoquan, Maureen Caddigan, Potomac, Pete Candland, Gainesville, and Jeanine Lawson, Brentsville, voting to nix the road, while Supervisor Marty Nohe, R-Coles, joined Democratic Supervisors John Jenkins, Neabsco, and Frank Principi, Woodbridge, in voting against it.
“Candland said Thursday several supervisors believed the parkway had been debated long enough and that many believed their voices ‘would be diminished’ if the vote were delayed.
“ ‘It was time we addressed it,’ Candland said. ‘The vote was a big win for the citizens of Prince William County who have been held hostage by this poorly designed Bi-County Parkway routing plan.’
“Principi said he tried to protest the vote by reminding his fellow supervisors of their public statement March 8 promising to move the vote to their first meeting in April.
“But County Attorney Michelle Robl advised that because the board never voted on the delay, the verbal agreement was not binding.
“ ‘That is just dirty politics,’ Principi said Thursday. ‘It’s just not good for our community.’
“The parkway, which has been on state and local long-range transportation plans since the 1980s, would extend Va. 234 north to U.S. 50 in Loudoun County. The road is planned to be a four-lane, limited-access parkway that would ease trips between Prince William and Loudoun counties and open up another access point to Dulles International Airport.
“The road is considered key to accommodate current and future population growth and as well as economic development. For that reason, it is widely supported by business and development groups.
“But the road is also planned to skirt the western edge of the protected Manassas National Battlefield Park and is considered a threat to the county’s rural crescent, where residential development is limited to one home per 10 acres. Both are key points of contention for the road’s many opponents.
“Caddigan has been a vocal critic of the parkway because residents in neighborhoods along Va. 234, including Montclair and Ashland, fear it would draw heavier truck traffic between Dulles and Interstate 95.
“Supervisors were cautioned against removing the parkway from the comprehensive plan, however, by both the Virginia Department of Transportation and their own transportation department, because of the effect to other roads in the county.
“According to VDOT projections, the loss of the parkway would exacerbate congestion on nearly every other main north-south artery in the county, including Va. 234, Prince William Parkway, U.S. 15, Sudley Road and Pageland Lane.
“VDOT also predicts 20 percent increases in traffic on several secondary roads, including Waterway Drive and Joplin, Spriggs, Delaney and Hoadly roads.
“Also, the move could come with a big price tag. VDOT has already purchased right-of-way property along Va. 234 for which it could now ask the county for reimbursement, according to a VDOT staff report.
“It is not immediately clear how much the county might have to pay the state, however, since those details were not included in the report.
“It also remains unclear what effect the supervisors’ vote will have in the long term, considering the parkway remains on state long-range plans as well as those in Loudoun and Fairfax counties.
“Principi said he, too, has ‘issues’ with some aspects of the Bi-County Parkway as planned, but contends that taking it off the county’s transportation blueprint is not the responsible way to deal with those challenges.
“ ‘The vote on the Bi-County Parkway was a vote to stop that other conversation,’ Principi said. ‘The system is broken if we don’t build this road.’ ”
“For the past 30 years, the controversial Bi-County Parkway has existed only as a line on local and regional transportation planning maps.
“Last week, the Prince William Planning Commission voted unanimously to remove it from the county’s long-range blueprint, formally called the ‘comprehensive plan.’
“The proposed 10-mile roadway would extend Va. 234 north about 10 miles to U.S. 50 in Loudoun County, skirting the western edge of the protected Manassas National Battlefield Park.
“The road has been the subject of hot debate in recent years, as opponents have argued it would spoil the protected battlefield without providing enough relief to Prince William County commuters, who would be better served, they say, by improvements to Interstate 66 and Va. 28.
“Supporters, meanwhile, say the future four-lane road is critical to accommodate population growth and facilitate economic development in both Loudoun and Prince William counties.
“The matter was before the planning commission Wednesday because of concerns among some members of the Prince William Board of Supervisors that the Bi-County Parkway could amount to an ‘outer beltway,’ that would direct heavy truck traffic from Dulles International Airport to Interstate 95 along Va. 234 through Manassas and Dumfries.
“Supervisors voted last year to begin the process of removing the road from the comprehensive plan and undoing plans to widen Va. 234 from the current four lanes to six lanes from Country Club Drive to Bristow Road. The move is considered another means of discouraging the construction of the new parkway.
“On Feb. 17, the eight-member planning commission took the first step toward removing the parkway from the comprehensive plan, but declined to reverse course on Va. 234, citing the need for more study.
“In the same vein, the commission called on supervisors to initiate a study of county’s overall transportation grid to identify alternatives to the Bi-County Parkway.
“ ‘The Bi-County Parkway is hypothetical and has been hypothetical for a very long time,’ said Planning Commissioner At Large Don Taylor.
“ ‘My feeling is, let’s wipe the slate clean and quit arguing about this abstract thing and take a look at what we really need here to solve our transportation challenges.’
“The planning commission vote moves the matter to the board of supervisors, which has the final say on removing the road from the comprehensive plan. The board is expected to take it up in March or April, Taylor said.
“At this point, removing the parkway from the county’s comprehensive plan is largely symbolic. The road remains on the regional long-term planning map as well as state transportation plans for the Northern Virginia corridor.
“Still, opponents of the road consider the step an important acknowledgement that the road was never a good deal for Prince William County, said Page Snyder, an outspoken critic who lives beside the battlefield.
“ ‘It’s gratifying to see our planning commission unanimously recognize the negligible benefits and the great cost of the Bi-County Parkway to our county as opposed to the huge benefits to Loudoun County,’ Snyder said.
ANOTHER VICTORY — The Bi-County Parkway (BCP), a north-south non-solution to western Prince William County’s east-west commuting nightmare, but a future boon to residential developers who wish to build throughout the Rural Crescent, has been removed from the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Thanks to the PWC Planning Commission for its unanimous vote on 17 February 2016 to remove BCP from the Comp Plan. Thanks to the PWC Board of County Supervisors’ Peter Candland, Jeanine Lawson, Maureen Caddigan, and Ruth Anderson for deciding the issue in a 4-3 vote on 15 March 2016. And thanks to the many citizens and neighbors of the Rural Crescent who fought hard for a long time to stop BCP. Happy Easter and Passover to all.
By Keith Walker, Bull Run Now.Com 16 Sep 2014
“The results of the 2014 Community Survey are in, and overall, the citizens of Prince William County are very satisfied with the performance of their County government.
“The survey showed that county residents enjoy a high quality of life, receive effective and efficient services from their government, feel safe in their communities, and report they receive high value for their tax dollars. Survey results remained on par with the last survey conducted in 2012.
“The survey was administered by an independent party, ORC International, a demographic, health and market research group based in Princeton, N.J. A total of 1,831 people completed the survey, which has a plus or minus 2.3-percent margin of error.
“In the 2014 survey, 91 percent of respondents indicated that they were happy with the quality of life in Prince William County. People who agreed that the county’s overall quality of services met or exceeded their expectations rose from 90 percent to 91 percent in 2014; and eight out of 10 respondents agreed or strongly agreed that county employees were courteous and helpful.
“The survey also showed that 86 percent of residents believe that the county provides services and facilities that are a good value for their tax dollar. This is the highest score ever for this question since the county began surveying in 1993. The majority of residents (84 percent) trust the County to do the right thing; and 91 percent of those surveyed agreed that the county provides efficient and effective services.
“People continue to feel safe in their community, with 93 percent agreeing that they feel safe in their neighborhoods and when they visit commercial areas.
“They rated the overall performance of the county’s fire and rescue service, as well as the skill and reliability of emergency service providers and promptness and reliability of firefighters, at 98 percent.
“Quick police response and courteous police officers led to an overall 93 percent approval rating for the Police Department.
“The area that scored lower in the 2014 survey was transportation.
“The feeling among respondents that transportation and road systems adequately support current development fell from 68 percent in 2012 to 62 percent in 2014.
“In 2012, 84 percent of people felt they could easily get around the county in their cars. By 2014, that number dropped to 80 percent. Although this satisfaction rating is much higher than before the county began its road program, it demonstrates that citizens are still concerned about road congestion.
“This was reinforced when the largest number of respondents (44 percent) stated a traffic or transportation-related item was the most important issue for the County to address.
“Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, was quoted as saying, ‘Previous surveys have told us that traffic is an issue. Therefore, knowing that the state was unable to help us in this area, we committed to building our own roads. We have the largest, local road building program in the Commonwealth. And we continue to work on this area to help residents get around more quickly and efficiently.’
“Prince William County has conducted an annual resident survey since 1993, and went to a biennial survey beginning in 2012. The County performs the survey to measure changes in residents’ opinions from year to year; to assess residents’ perceptions of the overall quality life in the county; and to assess perceptions of County services. Surveys can also track changes in demographics and provide insight into issues of importance to the community.
“To review previous community survey results, visit http://www.pwcgov.org/accountability”
Summary of County’s 2014 Citizen Satisfaction Survey: PW residents generally satisfied with county, but transportation scores drop
(by Keith Walker, Bull Run Now.Com 16 Sep 2014)