Build The Bi-County Parkway
There are several reasons to build the Bi-County Parkway. Northern Virginia residents only need to look at the past to realize our transportation needs for the future. The voices who were against the development of the Fairfax County Parkway and Prince William County Parkway, presented the same arguments as the opponents of a connecting route between Prince William County and Loudoun County. These roads quickly became primary routes necessary to avoid gridlock. Both highways have already expanded to meet demand.
I’m trying to keep this short. So here are a few thoughts. Forbes published America’s Fast Growing Counties: The Suburbs Are Back which recorded Loudoun County as the #2 fastest growing county between 2010-2012. It’s 2012 population of 336,898 is a 7.87% increase. Prince William County is #8 on this list. It’s 2012 population of 430,289 is a 7.04% increase since 2010. This matches the type of growth in the last 20 years which required the construction of parkways mentioned above. Imagine where the Northern Virginia transportation grid would be without these important transportation routes. Imagine where we will be in 20 years without the Bi-County Parkway.
CNNMoney.com ranks the 25 best places in America for job growth in Where the jobs are. Prince William County ranks #8 on this list with 11.4% job growth between 2010-2012. Is it likely this trend will stop? The 2035VTRANS Report to the Virginia Governor & General Assembly says growth will continue near this pace for the next 20 years. The past also dictates the necessity of connecting Loudoun-Fairfax-Prince William Counties with Dulles Airport and creating an alternative North-South Corridor in Northern Virginia. According to the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, the last 10 years in Prince William County has witnessed 57% growth in the number of emerging businesses, and 37% employment growth, adding over 2,700 new jobs every year. This growth cannot be ignored.
A regional north-south transportation connection linking future industries in Prince William County has to be built to sustain this amount of commercial growth. Prince William County has fast tracked the business permit process and streamlined the business development process for targeted technology industries. A direct route from Innovation Technology Park to Dulles Airport is a big reason the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce supports the North-South Corridor/Bi-County Parkway.
The Bi-County Parkway opposition campaign of Stewart Schwartz and the Coalition for Smarter Growth objects to the necessity of this project by citing improvements of existing routes would best serve the future transportation needs of the Northern Virginia Region. Commerce groups throughout Northern Virginia agree once Dulles Airport is connected to 3 of the fastest developing counties in Virginia, the growth of targeted industries would increase based on regional transportation upgrades through the construction of the Bi-County Parkway. It would give the region a competitive advantage over the rest of the country. The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the same group which blocked the development proposal by the Walt Disney Company in Haymarket. The group rallied support by claiming the Walt Disney Company planned to develop existing land dedicated to Manassas Battlefield Park. It worked. But it wasn’t the truth. The disputed property became Dominion Valley Country Club. It is a beautiful Toll Brothers development offering luxury homes in a resort style community. This appears to be in direct conflict with the Coalition for Smarter Growth mission statement of promoting transit oriented, inclusive communities. The track record here suggest once this group has helped defeat the Bi-County Parkway, there will no involvement helping to manage growth in this corner of Northern Virginia.
While creating opposition to block development of the Bi-County Parkway, the Coalition for Smarter Growth appears to be organizing the interests of individual land owners to block the advance of business and smart transportation development. But the history of this organization suggests its motive isn’t smart growth. After the Walt Disney Company vacated plans to develop a theme park next to the town of Haymarket, the land was sold for residential development resulting in the construction of thousands of houses and a heavy demand on county services and surrounding highways. The majority of the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors initially supported the theme park until a small number of voters objected. This was much like the changing support from the Board of County Supervisors for the Bi-County Parkway.
The political cowardice once again exercised by Prince William County officials in the face of losing the votes of this special interest group once again has put the needs of citizens behind political survival. Commuters throughout the region need this project. It isn’t enough to upgrade existing roads in our transportation network. If there was no expectation of growth in Northern Virginia I would understand the position of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. But growth is coming. Blocking the construction of the Bi-County Parkway will not stop it. Comparing the Bi-County Parkway message of the Coalition of Smarter Growth to the future of public education would have Prince William County Public Schools renovating existing school buildings, but not building new schools to meet existing and future population needs. As it’s important to maintain and upgrade existing schools, it’s also important to expand when future growth requires new schools. The Bi-County Parkway addressing future transportation needs is no different.
This is Ronald Wilson Reagan Memorial Highway (Dumfries Road) Route 234 at Warm Springs Lane. Ashland subdivision (right) is the largest subdivision along Dumfries Road. It was built with setbacks allowing future expansion of this important cross county highway between Dumfries and Manassas. Adding lanes to Route 234 would have minimal impact to housing projects in this section of Prince William County.
Advocates against this project argue it will only lead to increased traffic on Dumfries Road (Route 234) which will cause highway expansion. They are correct. It is an alternate truck route, and with the direct connection to Fairfax County and Loudoun County it will become a regional transportation route allowing local commerce to move efficiently. In fact, without connecting Prince William County to Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, Dumfries Road and the Prince William County Parkway is already in need of expansion. By building the Bi-County Parkway all commercial and passenger traffic using Routes 28, 234, & 15 will have a better option to travel between Ashburn and Dumfries.
The argument of Route 234 becoming part of an interstate trucking route appears to be a scare tactic. As long as Route 17 in Stafford County continues to upgrade to handle increased capacity, which is currently being addressed by adding lanes in high traffic areas, interstate commercial traffic will continue using Stafford County as a Northern Virginia Bypass. Using the argument of highway expansion leading to increased commercial traffic on Route 234 as an argument not to add lanes, puts us into a future of guaranteed gridlock, and dangerous highway conditions caused by crowded roadways. This is a scenario inviting targeted industry to find other places in the country to conduct business while hurting regional employment and property values. The efforts of those blocking the construction the Bi-County Parkway are only encouraging the construction of more residential development in an area which lacks enough infrastructure. In a region famous for stop-and-go rush hour traffic this thinking is madness.
The Bi-County Parkway allows Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton to add an important north-south transportation route to our Northern Virginia transportation grid while making our region attractive to new business. His performance as the Chairman of the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors proves he understands smart growth, and his transportation resume makes him the smartest person in the room when it comes to regional transportation projects. He knows growth is coming. He also understands it can occur to help the region. He also knows there are land use attorneys like Clark Leming challenging every zoning decision working against the interests of large development corporations and national builders. Successfully block a regional transportation route and in its place you will get housing projects dictating the development of future growth between Prince William County and Loudoun County. Another maze of interlocking roads much like Haymarket. The Bi-County Parkway manages growth. Allow the Coalition for Smarter Growth to convince you otherwise guarantees the explosive growth of subdivisions like the past 15 years in Haymarket.
If you agree our transportation grid in Northern Virginia needs an extra north-south regional transportation route I urge you to sign the petition organized by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance . Go to Transportation Planning. Then click on Support N-S Corridor/Bi-County Parkway. Let local and state officials know you support smart planning through your support of this project. If you’re in gridlocked traffic every morning on Route 28 & 29 in Prince William County here is your chance to change your commute. The lack of representing the transportation interests of citizens by local and state politicians has put us where we are today. Don’t let special interests groups continue to influence future transportation decisions.
I expect this message will receive a lot of negative comments. So let me narrow accusations of my motives for writing this article. I am a lifelong Northern Virginia resident. Manassas is my hometown. I have either worked or lived in Prince William County my entire life (except for military service). I’ve watched small interest groups influence prosperity between Manassas and Woodbridge during the past 3 decades, and the biggest opportunity for positive change, the Bi-County Parkway, is in jeopardy due to the influence of a group who represent continued gridlock and enough votes to influence local elections. My motives are pure. Advancing property values and regional transportation options for residents of Northern Virginia. I also hate sitting in stop-and-go traffic. -Dwayne Moyers
Read The Prince William County – Loudoun County Parkway for more analysis and opinion about the Bi-County Parkway.
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