022414-leaders

Business leaders in Manassas got another earful from elected leaders on just how bad the state of transportation is in our area.

The region’s top leaders said the Bi-County Parkway, and improvements to Va. 28 which links Manassas and Manassas Park to Fairfax County, must happen if Prince William County is going to continue to attract jobs and investment.

Together, Prince William and neighboring Loudoun County have 800,000 residents. A planned Bi-County Parkway that would link Interstate 95 with Dulles Airport would bridge the two counties.

“Take a look at a map of the Battle of Manassas in 1861, and you know what you are going to find? The road network is the same as it is today,” said Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart.

Stewart, an outspoken supporter of the parkway, said those who oppose it should not be allowed to hold up progress on a road that would link Prince William and Manassas with job centers around Dulles Airport.

“Anyone who is in the way of a highway is going to be opposed to it, I understand that and I feel for them. But you cannot hold back the prosperity of this community going forward because of some opposition,” said Stewart.

The highway has been opposed by residents who live in and near Manassas Battlefield National Park, as the road could be routed through a portion of the park. Several Republicans in Richmond have also voiced opposition to the highway.

The Manassas City Council has not voiced its support for the Bi-County Parkway, but instead has identified improvements to Va. 28 between the city and the Fairfax County line as critical. A hotbed of congestion, Va. 28 now serves as the main link between Prince William County and Dulles.

“If you travel on that road, if you’re business is on that road and your customers travel to you in the morning or the evening, you’re going to have a very difficult time moving around,” said Manassas Mayor Harry Parrish, II. “If we don’t make the tough decisions, Loudoun will continue to grow and we will not.”

Manassas Park Mayor Frank Jones called the roadway a “huge chokepoint” for the region. His day job is at the Mark Center federal building in Alexandria, and it took Jones more than four hours to commute to and from his job last Wednesday, he said.

“I don’t have my own business, Suppose I work in business and I were trying to get to a meeting that could have a million, or two, or three million investment looming on how well that business meeting went and now I have been frustrated, I have been set aside, I am not focused, and I am late to that meeting,” said Jones.

All three elected officials spoke at a Prince William Chamber of Commerce event held on Thursday in Manassas.

 Photo: Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, Manassas Mayor Harry Parrish, and Manassas Park Mayor Frank Jones.