Outer Beltway approved by CTB
Please read on and oppose this waste of tax payers money!
Late last week, without any technical justification, without public input and without a recommendation from VDOT staff, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted to approve a potential new north-south highway between Leesburg and I-95 as a Corridor of Statewide Significance.
This designation places the sprawl-inducing "Outer Beltway" above real transportation solutions that have been vetted and would relieve traffic congestion if constructed. In addition, the cost of building such a roadway would run in the billions of dollars, depending on whether it is 4, 6, or 8 lane highway. This proposal is reemerging at a time when there is limited public funding for transportation, an urgent need to complete the Dulles Rail project, and a clear need to maintain, repair and rehabilitate existing roads and transit.
At last week's meeting, Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton claimed that this road proposal, known as the "Outer Beltway," is a priority of the Governor. We hope that's not the case.
Ill-conceived transportation projects like the proposed Outer Beltway, which have not been vetted by technical staff or gone through any public process, should not be prioritized over those that have been shown to ease traffic congestion.
Newly Borrowed Funds Could Go Towards This Sprawl-Inducing Project
This past General Assembly Session Governor McDonnell introduced a bill that gives VDOT access to once-in-a-generation funding for new transportation projects in Virginia. The legislation allows the state to borrow up to $4 billion, mostly tied to new construction or widening of existing roads.
Spending money on transportation is important --there's a real need for Metro line expansions, improved VRE service, roadway solutions to the east-west traffic on I-66 and high-speed rail along the I-95 corridor-- however, an additional beltway around DC that encourages people to drive even further is the last thing we should spend money on.
The Problem with Last Week's Vote
The immediate effect of the designation is that Loudoun and Prince William will have to include the proposed corridor in their Comprehensive Plans. Worse, the designation encourages VDOT and private road builders to prioritize this project above others.
Members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), with the support of numerous developers and several Chambers of Commerce, rushed to approve the designation, despite:
- The lack of traffic counts or any analysis or supporting evidence by VDOT showing that this proposal would assist efforts to address the major congestion issues in Northern Virginia (east/west traffic is as much as 8x greater than north/south traffic).
- The lack of cost estimates or alternatives upon which to judge the effectiveness of the proposed roadway.
- The absence of any process or public comment opportunity.
- The lack of consultation with local governments like Fairfax, and despite objections raised by elected officials in Loudoun, Clarke and Fauquier, including Congressman Wolf.
- The impact the proposal would have on the Manassas National Battlefield.
Some of the Outer Beltway proponents on the CTB admitted that there should have been a process, but voted for the designation anyways. One member voted in favor of the designation, but stated "So we are voting to add a North-South corridor to the Corridors of Statewide Significance, while at the same time saying we need a process for voting on Corridors of Statewide Significance. But we're not going to use a process for this particular corridor."
Another beltway around DC would encourage fiscally irresponsible, scattered development throughout the northern half of the state, as far south as Spottsylvania and Orange, Culpeper, Madison, and Fauquier. Please take a minute to tell the Governor that we need to use limited transportation funds on projects that we know (using traffic models) would actually ease traffic congestion.