Va. 234 & U.S. 29 to Remain Open until Battlefield Bypass Built, Supervisors Rule
– September 18, 2013 7:33 am
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va .– Two major thoroughfares inside Manassas National Battlefield Park, Va. 234 and U.S. 29, will not close until a bypass road around the hallowed ground is built.
That was a resolution first passed by Prince William County officials in the middle portion of the past decade and reaffirmed Tuesday afternoon by the sitting Board of County Supervisors in 6-2 vote.
Supervisor Peter Candland, who supports an unfunded road that’s been on the books since 1988 called the Battlefield Bypass and Chairman Corey Stewart, who opposes the road but supports a Bi-County Parkway — a 10-mile extension of Va. 234 Business from where the road meets Interstate 66 in Manassas to Dulles Airport, and allowing it to connect with Interstate 95 in Dumfries — both engaged each other in heated debate prior to the vote. Stewart and Supervisor John Jenkins were the dissenting votes cast on the eight-member Board.
“The Battlefield bypass is disaster of a road. That’s not a real alternative, and if you build it, however, and if we do anything to instigate its construction, it means that not only is VDOT going to shut down 234, they’re going to shut down 29 as well.
Stewart added today’s vote means a change in county policy, and that if both a Bi-County Parkway and a Battlefield Bypass is built, Va. 234 and U.S. 29 inside the National Park would ultimately be closed by state officials, anyway.
Park officials at the battlefield support closing the a portion of the heavily-traveled commuter roadways inside the park to improve the visitor experience.
Candland accused Stewart of “clearing a path” for the eventual construction of the Bi-County Parkway, a road that would run across a portion of the National Park land, and that is revered by those who live in the area and members of the Sudley Methodist United Church, which dates back to 1789 and lies along the proposed construction route.
“If we move forward with the policy that [Chairman Stewart] is wholeheartedly endorsing here, that the closure of 234 will happen when that section of the Bi-County Parkway is built, that is not acceptable to me,” said Candland.
Business groups support a Bi-County Parkway and say it will spur economic growth in Prince William County’s long-dormant Innovation technology park near along Va. 234 near Manassas. Last week, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce urged residents to take a closer look at the proposed Bi-County Parkway, plans for which have been on the books since 2001, and allow state transportation officials to complete the environmental impact study (EIS) that is required before the project can move forward.
Virginia Transportation Sean Connaughton said he would like to initiate the EIS before Gov. Robert F. McDonnell leaves office in January.