Early next week, the Board of Supervisors will send one of its members to Richmond to register strong objections to the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s plan to move more than $40 million of highway construction money from a Loudoun project to one in Fairfax.
On the surface, this is not a good start for the state, regional and local partnership forged in recent years to provide sorely needed road funding to Northern Virginia. It has the fingerprints of the kind of political power maneuvering the General Assembly sought to avoid in developing a mandatory project ranking system.
That said, if state leaders are able to keep construction of the North Star Boulevard extension on schedule while also addressing a long-time daily headache for Rt. 7 commuters it would be a winning scenario. However, county leaders should not be blindsided by the effort.
It took years too long to reach a funding pact needed to break through the region’s highway gridlock. One element of that battle was the reluctance of state leaders to steer more money to Northern Virginia. Another hurdle was building trust among the jurisdictions, providing assurance that one would not become the piggy bank to fund projects elsewhere. The balance achieved was tenuous at best; maintaining it requires predictability. In instances when mutual benefits can be achieved by inserting a little creativity in the allocation structure, those should be developed through collaboration among the jurisdictions, not dictates from above.
In the course of planning the transportation network in the fastest developing section of Loudoun County, Northstar Boulevard became a rallying point for those who believe that stopping road construction would turn back the tide on growth. That hasn’t worked elsewhere and it won’t here.
Northstar’s link to Rt. 50 is an important community connection for the residents and businesses that are here now. It’s too important to fall prey to the priorities of others.