Supervisor Burton Opposes Another Development Corridor
(Also send to Delegate Greason and Senators Herring and Vogel)
Supervisor Burton's letter to voters:
Outer Beltway / Proposed Corridor of Statewide Significance (COSS)
At the March 16, 2011 meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board
(CTB), members of the CTB presented a motion to add a Northern Virginia
North-South COSS. Based on the item discussion, as recorded and posted
on-line ( <http://lyris.loudoun.gov/t/38763077/127812284/92983/166/>
http://www.ctb.virginia.gov/meetings.asp), the proposed corridor would
encompass the entire land area between Routes 28 and Routes 15 and run, in
the words of the motion maker, “river to river, Potomac to Potomac,”
serving to connect Routes 1, 95, 495, and 66 with Dulles Airport and
points north. The maker of the motion also pointed to the need for
additional river crossings in this corridor. In the past, as one CTB
member pointed out, proposed highways along this route have been called
the Outer Beltway and the Western Transportation Corridor (WTC).
The COSS designation was created by the General Assembly in 2009 to
encourage multi-modal, cross-jurisdictional planning. The CTB designated
the first eleven COSS in December 2009 after an extensive,
multi-department development of criteria, identification of possible
corridors, application of the criteria to those corridors, and collection
of public input during a series of public meetings. These projects
included improvements to existing freeways (Routes 81, 95, 66, 64),
freight and passenger rail, and a regional bicycle and pedestrian program.
Descriptions of these projects can be found here
<http://lyris.loudoun.gov/t/38763077/127812284/92984/167/> . All of these
eleven COSS involve major investments of funds; none is fully funded.
Once the CTB makes a COSS designation, localities must insert the corridor
into their Countywide Transportation Plans. The County and its residents
have no control over location, timing, or size. We cannot re-locate them,
eliminate them, or change the number of lanes. If the CTB decides to
connect the freight rail in Manassas with Dulles or Leesburg Airports, it
will have the authority to do so. If the CTB decides to run an interstate
through Brambleton and River Creek, it will have the authority to do so.
If the CTB wants to widen Route 15 or build a Route 15 bypass, it will
have the authority to do so. Needless to say, I have a problem with that.
Loudoun County has a long history of opposition to proposals for major
north-south highways. The 2000 Board removed the WTC from the Countywide
Transportation Plan, while an effort by the 2004 Board to reinstate the
WTC failed. The outcome of debates over consultant and staff proposals in
the Draft Revised Countywide Transportation Plan to expand the number of
lanes planned for Routes 659, 659 Relocated, and 860 further highlight
The largest concern of both Board members and residents regarding the
construction of these roads is that they would simply alleviate Prince
William County’s east-west traffic congestion by shifting thousands of
cars into Loudoun County, adding traffic to already congested Routes 50
and 7 and hours to Loudoun residents’ already long commutes. Other
concerns include the sprawl development often induced by new major roads
and the separation of communities by a freeway.
The CTB has not sought out the comments of Loudoun County, its Towns, its
HOA’s or its individual residents. I also have a problem with this. In
order to ensure that the County has an opportunity to comment on the
proposal, I have drafted a resolution for the Board’s consideration during
its April 18th meeting. A copy of the resolution is posted on-line .
In short, my concerns are as follows:
* Neither State transportation staff nor the public have thoroughly
examined the current proposal.
At the March 16, 2011 CTB meeting, State staff laid out a timeline for
future COSS designations. This process has not yet been fully presented
or approved by the CTB. Thus, the initiative seems presumptuous at best
if not a complete end run around the process
The maker of the motion introduced the resolution the morning of the
meeting as New Business. It was not included in the advertised agenda,
although it had been mentioned at the end of the CTB’s February meeting.
As three opponents and four proponents spoke to the issue during the
public input portion of the meeting the maker of the motion indicated that
sufficient transparency occurred. However, he then warned his colleagues,
“This is not a broad public issue; this is something that has to do with
planning and land use and growth.” I don’t want to sound like a NIMBY,
but I would assume that planning, land use, and growth – what happens in
each of our backyards – is most definitely a “broad public issue.”
* During a decade of data analysis and planning efforts from 2000
through 2011, including the 2009 selection and approval of 11 COSS,
neither State transportation staff nor the CTB offered sufficient
justification to designate a Northern Virginia North-South COSS.
These efforts, involving State transportation staff, hired consultants,
local government representatives, and the public provided numerous studies
indicating that the key strategic transportation priorities were elsewhere
and otherwise – none of which have occurred here. Despite the
thoroughness of the process, the maker of the motion claimed that the
process was flawed because “any process that actually missed the
importance of Dulles Airport and had it on no corridor obviously had to be
flawed.” However, Dulles Airport actually appears in two already approved
COSS – the Northern Virginia Connector (I-66) and the Seminole Connector
(Route 29). Further, the omission from the Governor’s priority list of
the CTB-approved north-south road that falls within the proposed corridor,
the Tri-County Parkway, provides additional evidence that the CTB’s
original priorities were correct.
* There are no resources to implement the proposal or to maintain
the infrastructure once constructed.
The Governor’s Transportation Plan places a heavy reliance on one-time
debt issuance. Once those funds are spent, it is unclear what new funding
sources will become available. Thus, it would seem logical to funnel
those limited resources to the priorities identified during the 2009
planning process. Loudoun County has an east-west traffic problem.
Spending scarce State funds for a north-south road of questionable need at
the expense of desperately needed east-west solutions, is, in my opinion,
* The proposal’s supporters, an unelected body, have bypassed the
County’s residents and their elected representatives.
No formal attempt was made by the CTB, an unelected body appointed by the
Governor, to invite input from the Board of Supervisors, from affected
HOA’s, from the Leesburg Town Council, and from individual residents –
either before the March 16, 2011 introduction of the resolution or after
its deferral to the April 20, 2011 meeting. The maker of the motion
claimed that the intent of his resolution was to initiate a master
planning process that would meet “the need for a more comprehensive,
collaborative approach between and among the jurisdictions there and the
Commonwealth about the investments we’re going to make.” In fact, similar
to approaches taken by power companies when siting new transmission lines,
the CTB resolution only offers the jurisdiction and its residents a voice
on the details of implementation after the key decision to proceed has
already been made.
* The proposal reduces local authority.
As noted above, once an area is designated a COSS, a locality is required
to include the COSS in its CTP as determined by the CTB. The Board and
County residents will no longer control the location, timing, or size of
roads or other transportation infrastructure within the COSS area
I could go on and on, but I think my point is obvious. The proposal is
premature, unnecessary, and lacks sufficient input from experts and
I hope that you review my resolution and, if you agree with it, let my
colleagues on the Board hear from you prior to our vote on April 18th.
You might also want to contact the Loudoun delegation to the General
Assembly (several of whom endorsed an earlier, more limited COSS
resolution) and members of the CTB directly. You can find contact
information for the General Assembly here and here.