Washington Western Bypass or Western Transportation Corridor
Myths and Realities
[While in 2003 VDOT halted the EIS on this highway, it remains the highest priority of the regional building industry. Several studies are on-going of “connector roads” which could jump-start this project by building a crucial central portion. The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor was named one of the most wasteful and environmentally damaging transportation projects in the country by the Green Scissors Report, issued by Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.]
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor is needed as a bypass of Washington, to relieve through traffic on I-95.
Maryland and Virginia dropped the proposed bypass in 1989 after a draft Environmental Impact Study concluded that it would not relieve traffic on the beltway, it would in fact cause increased east-west traffic, and at $1.5 billion it would be too expensive. Maryland has steadfastly declined to participate with Virginia in the renewed study, which was initiated by Governor Allen in 1994 at the urging of Northern Virginia developers.
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor will relieve traffic congestion on the beltway and ease commuting.
VDOT’s 1997 Major Investment Study (MIS) found that traffic on I-95 would decrease a minimal amount of 4.8%. On I-66 it would decrease about 1% west of Rt. 28. It will cause an INCREASE on other major roads such as Rt. 50 west of Rt. 606 (22.7%), Rt. 15 north of Leesburg (21.8%) and Rt. 7 west of Rt. 659 (10.7%). VDOT did no analysis of the highway on Rt. 28 or other roads east of Rt. 28.
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor is needed as a north-south connector road between Loudoun and Stafford.
The MIS shows that only 3,000 (one way) trips per day will be made the entire length of the highway, between I-95 and Rt. 7, in the year 2020. This means that most of the trips will be short. The maximum one-way volume on any segment will be 47,000 vehicles per day. Recently-built north-south roads include the Fairfax County Parkway, the Prince William Parkway, the widening of Rt. 28 in Fairfax and Loudoun, and the Rt. 234 bypass. Also on the books are completing overpasses for Rt. 28, as well as the Tri-County Connector in Fairfax and Prince William and the Loudoun County Parkway, just west of Dulles.
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor will be a limited access parkway and thus have very little effect on surrounding land use.
According to the MIS, the Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor will have eight interchanges over its 50 mile length, or one every 5 – 10 miles: Rt. 7, Dulles Greenway, Rt. 50, Rt. 234 bypass, I-66, Rt. 28 (near Prince William/Fauquier border), Rt. 606 (near Stafford/Fauquier border), and I-95. Experience tells us that the preferred development location is at highway interchanges, and that zoning is easily changed to accommodate such development. New highways channel growth – and they will channel it away from more developed areas further into the countryside.
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor will be an environmentally-benign limited access parkway.
An Environmental Protection Agency analysis of the MIS concluded that a new highway “has the potential to directly impact up to ten times the wetlands area, cross ten times the flood plain area, increase the potential for threatened and endangered plant impacts by 2.5 times, and potentially threaten the Lake Manassas public water supply” when compared to other, less costly, alternatives. The National Park Service expressed concern about the highway’s effect on the Manassas National Battlefield Park as well as on the Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg National Military Parks.
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor will decrease traffic on historic Rt. 15.
Because the Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor ends at Rt. 7, it is projected to increase traffic on Rt. 15 north of Leesburg by 21.8%. Even if it should cross the river, which now appears remote, induced traffic and more development would most likely keep Rt. 15 traffic high.
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor will have little effect on Fauquier and Stafford counties because it will go through the Quantico Marine Corps Base.
The Marine Corps’s position is: “Marine Corps Base, Quantico, opposes use of base land for the Western Transportation Corridor … MCB, Quantico cannot support the conversion of finite training resources to non-military purposes.”
The Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor is necessary for Dulles Airport, to provide better access for freight truck traffic from I-95 and better access for workers from the west.
If 15% of the 3,000 daily through-trips in 2020 are trucks, and one-half of those go to Dulles, that would be 225 trucks a day, or roughly one per hour. Hardly sufficient justification to build a billion dollar highway. Access from the west is provided by Rt. 7, I-66, the Dulles Greenway. A 4-mile access road would have to be built from the Washington Western Bypass/Western Transportation Corridor, and unless it tunneled under the runways, traffic would still have to be routed around to the east entrance of the airport.
This highway has been on the books for 40 years, and it’s high time we built it.
Studies have consistently shown that this highway will not relieve current or future traffic congestion, but that it will cause increased congestion on other major roads. Why should we cling to an outmoded plan from the Eisenhower era?