By URIAH KISER
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Option one: Build a road. Option two: Build a road with toll lanes and dedicated routes for transit buses.
Virginia Transportation officials showed plans for the North – South Corridor – a swath of land between Interstate 95 to Dulles International Airport that has been identified for a new road that resembles an outer beltway to link the outer suburbs with the state’s busiest airport.
The identified route runs along the existing Va. 234 corridor between I-95 and I-66 in Prince William County. Plans include widening portions of the roadway and adding High Occupancy Vehicle and toll lanes. From I-66, planners want to build what is known as the Tri-County Parkway which will traverse Prince William and Loudoun Counties (a plan that once had the roadway also running through Fairfax County was scrapped) to connect with U.S. 50., and then expanding Northstar Boulevard in Loudoun County to a connector road that will take drivers into Dulles Airport.
Residents who came to Wednesday night’s public meeting were presented with two design alternatives.
The first is to simply construct a roadway that could ultimately connect I-95 with Dulles Airport and Va. 7 in Loudoun County. Under alternative two, the roadway would still be built along the same corridor but it would also include High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes and High Occupancy Toll lanes – similar to what recently opened on the Capital Beltway. It would also include expanded bus service between Dale City and Metro’s new Silver line being built from Tysons to Dulles.
The plans are in their infancy and there’s no estimate as to what the new transportation facility would cost, or when construction would begin, officials said.
Reaction to the plans among residents is mixed. Some are tired of sitting in traffic on Va. 28 – currently the most direct route to Dulles from Prince William County – but others said the new road would only open new land to developers.
“Is this a transportation solution? If so, what’s the problem?” asked Harry Lasko, of Manassas. “This is just another way to offer up land to developers who will build and create more of a traffic problem.”
Eileen Kennedy is a Realtor who spends her time commuting from Haymarket to Loudoun County on Va. 28. She supports any solution that would allow her to get out of traffic congestion.
“I spend a lot of time seeing clients, and the bulk of my commuting is done around Dulles. From an economic standpoint, and from a commuter point of view, this would move us forward,” said Kennedy.
Others supported the idea for the road but do no not like plans to add HOV or toll lanes.
“The government should not be able to restrict who can and who can’t use a road. Taxpayer money is used to build the road so everyone should be able to use it,” said Shak Hill, of Centreville.
The North-South Corridor was identified by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell as one of 12 transportation priority corridors in the state. Officials will accept public comments on the proposals through Jan. 4.