So much for not making decisions on such issues. In a complete 180, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe has told the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce that he has in fact taken a stance on the bi-county parkway connecting Prince William and Loudoun counties and is supporting it.
This puts McAuliffe squarely at odds with GOP nominee / VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his fellow PWC residents who are well-informed on this topic and overwhelming oppose its current configuration in an increasingly vocal manner.
I don’t oppose adding capacity to existing roads or even building new roads where they make sense. (Full disclosure, I am employed in an industry that supports and profits from road construction.) In fact, I believe that building transportation infrastructure is necessary for economic growth, particularly in the non-retail commercial sector which is an area where our county badly trails our surrounding neighbors. The bi-county parkway is NOT the answer, though, especially when there are logical alternatives that are less intrusive and more cost effective.
There have been a host of revolving and evolving reasons provided for construction of this particular road along the route that has been proposed. Some have claimed it is to ease north-south traffic congestion when the real problem is east-west congestion along the I-66 corridor. Others state that this road is intended to make Dulles Airport a cargo hub in the region by providing more direct access for truck traffic to I-95 south of the Capital Beltway. However, Dulles lacks the freight rail access other airports that are major cargo hubs have, so this is a very dubious rationale. As I pointed out way back in April, increased truck traffic along existing Route 234 and the creation of HOV/Express Lanes would create more problems that it would solve.
Several people have taken note of who owns the property along the proposed route, particularly in Loudoun County, and who would benefit from it being built. Not surprisingly, quite a bit of land along the proposed route has been bought up by residential developers. That tells you all you need to know about one of the biggest motivating factors at work here.
This entire project needs to be sent back to the drawing board. If the goal truly is to increase cargo handling at Dulles, let’s figure out the best way to do it at the lowest cost with the least impact on existing residents, because this certainly is not it. If the goal truly is to address congestion in western PWC and southern Loudoun — which is an east-west problem, not a north-south one — then let’s figure out where capacity can be increased on existing roads and which interchanges require significant improvements in order to keep traffic flowing at reasonable speeds.
And if the goal truly is to open up undeveloped land for residential construction, I wish that they would just man-up and say that so it can be debated on its actual merits. It would be very interesting to see what kind of support remained for the current plan if all the land along this route was either put off limits to development or was strictly reserved for commercial development.
Terry McAuliffe has taken his stand in favor of what critics are calling the “developers’ road” and against PWC residents. This November PWC residents need to turn out and take a stand against McAuliffe.
UPDATE: McAuliffe’s campaign is now apparently trying to weasel out of this major gaffe that threatens to crater whatever support he has in PWC. He said it, he’s going to own it…