A biennial survey of Loudoun residents has shown that the county’s growth has surpassed its traffic as the No. 1 concern on Loudouners’ minds.
According to the survey by the University of Virginia Center for Survey Research, since at least 2007 traffic has been the biggest problem for Loudoun residents. In 2016, however, 36.4 percent of Loudouners said growth and development was the single biggest problem facing the county, ahead of traffic, which garnered 32.5 percent of the vote.
Growth and traffic far outpace other concerns generally. The next biggest concern, schools, was identified by 7.1 percent of Loudouners as the biggest problem.
The survey also asked people if they would be willing to pay higher taxes to address their biggest problem. Among the relatively few people who identified schools as the biggest problem, 49.6 percent said they would be willing to pay higher taxes, and among the 3.7 percent of people who said the school budget was the biggest problem, 78.5 percent said they would be willing to pay higher taxes.
Slightly more than 32 percent of people who said growth is the biggest problem said they would be willing to pay higher taxes to address it. 45.3 percent of people who said traffic is the biggest problem said they would pay higher taxes.
Residents also rated transportation issues as very important in the region. 90.1 percent of people said improving and building roads is very or somewhat important, with emphasis placed also on improving pedestrian walkways and bikeways, commuter bus service to DC, and local bus services.
Nonetheless, Loudouners reported overwhelming satisfaction with life in the county. Ninety-four percent of people said overall quality of life in the county is “excellent” or “good,” and about 98 percent of respondents said they feel “safe” or “very safe” in their neighborhoods.
Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) expressed concern about the county’s continued dependence on federal money. He pointed out that nearly a third of employed households have a federal employee or contractor, and that more than half of employed households say their job security depends on federal spending.
“What I’m drawing out of this is we, from an economic development standpoint, have to continue to focus heavily on diversifying our economy, because we have an awful lot of eggs in one basket,” Buona said.