Study: At Least $31M Needed for Rt. 15 Traffic Fix

A consultant study of traffic on Rt. 15 won’t surprise anyone who’s driven north of Leesburg: it’s bad.

But a recently completed project quantified just how bad it is, with a line of cars stretching uninterrupted from Whites Ferry Road past the Battlefield Parkway intersection during the evening rush hour. In particular, the study gave failing level-of-service marks to the Battlefield Parkway and King Street intersections, and the entrance to Frances Hazel Reid Elementary School and Smarts Mill Middle School during the evening commute.

A failing grade means average delays of a minute and 20 seconds or more. The study found drivers headed westbound in the evening rush hour face average delays of three and a half minutes at the intersection of Battlefield Parkway and Rt. 15. Drivers headed north on Rt. 15 face delays of only a few seconds less.

The study also found that the major cause of the congestion is the complicated merge at North King Street and Rt. 15.

The study also looked at a variety of improvements, focusing on two options. Both would turn the intersection of King Street and Rt. 15 into a more traditional T-intersection with a stoplight and widen Rt. 15 to four lanes from Battlefield Parkway to north of Whites Ferry Drive. One plan would also put a traffic signal at Whites Ferry Drive; the other would put a two-lane roundabout.

Those options range in price from an estimated $31 million on the low end for the two traffic signals up to a $43 million high-end price tag for the traffic signal and roundabout—if the county had the money today. There is a placeholder in county’s infrastructure plan beyond its six-year window, but nothing scheduled or funded sooner.

Both concepts get traffic moving through 2020, but are projected to back up again by 2040 without adding lanes throughout the Rt. 15 corridor.

Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) said he would prefer roundabouts generally.

“Traffic lights don’t move traffic, they stop traffic,” Higgins said. “I’d much rather see some option there for roundabouts.”

On Thursday, county supervisors voted unanimously , with Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) absent, to expand the study the rest of the way to the Maryland line at Point of Rocks, for an additional $400,000. They will also set up a stakeholder committee and organize public outreach sessions along the Rt. 15 corridor.

They will also have to amend Loudoun’s Countywide Transportation Plan, which currently designates Rt. 15 as a scenic byway with no more than two lanes.

“It’s a very beautiful, very congested drive,” remarked County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).

In the meantime, the consultant also devised an option to get work started sooner, by breaking the project into chunks, starting with a longer northbound merge lane at the King St. intersection. That’s estimated to cost between $1.7 million and $2 million. If the county does the improvements piecemeal, it could get work started sooner but cost as much as $52 million overall to finish.

The study was conducted by Kimley-Horn, the same consulting firm on a team of consultants leading the Envision Loudoun rewrite of the county comprehensive plan.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

11 thoughts on “Study: At Least $31M Needed for Rt. 15 Traffic Fix

  • 2017-05-19 at 1:14 pm
    Permalink

    The Board spent our tax money on a some fat cat consulting firm– to tell us what every driver already knows? And for only 400k more they’ll tell us what we already know as well?

    We don’t have any full timers in the planning department who could of done the same thing? We just had to hire the very same “consulting firm” who’s steamrolling the developer dominated “envision plan.”
    This doesn’t have a slight smell to it?

    And the end result is…… nothing’s going to change. They’ll just pass it on; a problem which has existed for years for four more years. Anyone who lives off, or has to travel this roadway knows the delay times published in the study are totally wrong. The delay times are much greater.

    This is astonishing, yet, it’s what we expect and what we put up with.

  • 2017-05-19 at 4:01 pm
    Permalink

    Problem is too many of the “preservation” crowd on Route 15 hold sway with the politicians like Randall and Umstattd, and even Higgins is taking his sweet time on this. Nobody has any guts to talk to Maryland about a new bridge and new highway. But if people do not complain to the Board of Supervisors, this is the best you are going to get.

  • 2017-05-19 at 4:04 pm
    Permalink

    Actually, the one who did nothing for years, was Ken Reid, who did nothing about this problem for the whole four years he was on the Board of Supervisors. The only thing Ken Reid wants to take credit for, was his disastrous yes vote on the Metro Silver Line into Loudoun County. And, Chris, maybe you need to spend a few moments educating yourself on how roads get built in Virginia. The steps taken by the Board of Supervisors, initiated by Supervisors Higgins and Umstattd, are all required steps for the construction of roads in Virginia.

  • 2017-05-19 at 4:53 pm
    Permalink

    And how long has this traffic nightmare existed Mr. Lawgh? in excess of decade. Everybody moaned about it, At least 3 Boards have talked about it. Who knows how many town councils have lamented about it. The papers pointed it out. And what has been the result? People are still spending hours of their life in traffic.

    What exactly did “Mayor” Umstattd ever do about it during her long tenure? Why wasn’t she standing on everybody and anybody’s desk demanding action? Why wasn’t it the first thing she said at any meeting with the Board, or VDOT, or a the the delegates and senators?
    Yet she was quick to be in the first row when the climbing lane up Leesburg mountian was finished, correct? Took credit for that, right?

    The point is Mr. Lawgh, they’re all the same: Spend a bunch of tax money on the their consultant pals. Tell the voters they’re doing yet another study, and drift off to leave the people stuck in traffic.

    Mr. Vindicator is correct: The preservation folks don’t want any improvements. That drive has long lost it’s appeal given the hundreds of homes slapped up on both sides of 15 north. Talking to Maryland is like talking to a rock; nothing happens, and the consultants get paid. See how this works?

    If Loudoun, really, truly wanted this problem addressed, it would get done. We don’t need to pay hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars to shifty consultants to tell us what any Mom sitting in traffic could tell you in 5 minutes.

  • 2017-05-20 at 2:01 pm
    Permalink

    Chris, you make my point. But where you are wrong, is to not see reality. Correct, nothing has been done for years and years, because Ken Reid would do nothing, for years and years, when he was on the Board of Supervisors about this. Funny, isn’t it, that within a year of Supervisor Umstattd taking office on the Board of Supervisors, things start moving. And add Supervisor Higgins to the list of getting credit, since he is also trying to get this needed improvement done.

  • 2017-05-22 at 10:50 am
    Permalink

    Mr. Lawgh, I get it. You have a sticking point with Mr. Reid. Clear as day. I don’t know the gentleman, other than from what I read in the paper. He was never in my food chain. It’s unbelievable that he, and he alone is responsible for the 15 north quagmire.

    He’s just as involved as three boards, and the same number town councils have been. None of them have done a single thing except spend money to “study” the problem, and talk out both sides of their mouths at election time. And the result; nothing is done. Yet again, we’re handing over tax money to crony consultants so they can tell us what any Mom who lives in the area, stuck in traffic, every single morning and afternoon could say far better, and with more force.

    Stop covering for Supervisor Umstattd; She doesn’t need it. What she needs to do is explain why she wasn’t kicking down doors for the last 15 years to get this solved. More currently, she needs to concentrate on real issues that affect those Mom’s and Dad’s living in the area and points north, who are forced to endure this daily mess.
    Rather than doting on committees on committees about committees, or pushing for meaningless proclamations in support of stripping Virginians of their constitutional rights, she should start standing on desks of anybody and everybody involved, and finally come up with some real results.
    Or… we can all settle for the 15 year long status quo – they spend our money to enrich their pals, while we all sit in traffic for four more years.

  • 2017-05-22 at 3:02 pm
    Permalink

    Really, Chris? You really know nothing about Ken Reid. I thought you were a very strong opponent of the Silver Line Metro vote. But I guess you know nothing about the Silver Line Metro. And why you persist in denying reality about what is required to actually get roads built in Virginia, is truly beyond me. I guess you must believe that some road faerie taps the ground with a magic wand, and poof, a road is there. And I also would guess you do not understand that the portion of Route 15 in question, is in the County of Loudoun, not the Town of Leesburg. Perhaps you need to go buy a map. The steps contained in this article, are required first steps to get a road project going. I don’t care whether you wish to deny reality or not, but that is reality. So, yes, Supervisor Umstattd gets credit, along with Supervisor Higgins, for stepping up and getting this road construction going.

  • 2017-05-22 at 6:09 pm
    Permalink

    Mr. Lawgh, stooping down to sophomoric snippets is beneath you. Yes, I was and remain an opponent of the Silver line. It’s such an outstanding deal for Loudoun taxpayers (that’s a joke). Too bad we didn’t have a that Judge who put the kibash on the Purple line over on Maryland today, eh?

    I’m also aware that Mr. Reid, along with others signed us all up for a contract — without knowing the price. Inexcusable by any standard. I said I don’t know him, not that I didn’t know who he is. (here’s where I’ll refrain from any wise crack about your reading comprehension, because I respect you enough as a participant in the First Amendment process.)

    My geographic knowledge of Loudoun County, including it’s municipal boundaries, is sound. And its particularly acute when it comes to the 15 North corridor – to include it’s geologic, social, and political attributes. That aside, this is a problem created by Loudoun’s insatiable penchant of trying to stuff 10 lbs. of stuff into a 5 lbs. bag. In the case of 15 North, we have gleefully managed to stuff 20 lbs. in without bothering to get a bigger bag. For 15 years this self-inflicted traffic nightmare has been building and building, and let’s add some more houses, and yet another development, and traffic from Maryland, and everyone knew it. Everyone talked about it. Everyone sitting in that traffic has pondered it. Everyone knew, and nobody… not Reid, or Umstattd, nor anyone else lifted a finger. You think it’s reasonable to let politicians off the hook for not doing anything for 15 years? I don’t think you do.

    We continue, to repeat the same mistakes over and over,and nothing ever changes. We’re talking in circles Mr. Lawgh. We agree on the problem, just not the process.

  • 2017-05-22 at 6:20 pm
    Permalink

    The real culprit in doing nothing is Sally Kurtz, who was Catoctin Supervisor for 12 years before Higgins came to office in 2012 and kowtowed to the anti improvement folks on US 15. But now, they are in a minority. Higgins really has gotten the ball moving here. I just figure this is all going to take a number of years. Manthos is right about Umstadt. She was mayor for something like 20 years and never said boo about 15 traffic.

  • 2017-05-22 at 8:12 pm
    Permalink

    Vin has a point. I will not dispute it, as it actually names one, of many, who did not want to see any changes to North Route 15. I continue to have major problems, however, with the comments of my very good friend, Chris. As one can see above, I mentioned Ken Reid as a do nothing Supervisor, while he was on the Board of Supervisors, who sat on his hands, and did nothing about the North Route 15 problems. And Chris than played, what can only be described as an embarrassing claim of no memory as to who Ken Reid even is, when in fact Chris knew all about Ken Reid, as he finally admits. There can be no positive points from these comments to articles, if someone like Chris plays games, has an agenda, and states positions that are clearly false. For the first time, in what may be decades, someone – Supervisor Umstattd and Supervisor Higgins – has started a real effort to address and fix the problems, and so I think Chris, and any one who plays the same kind of game, should explain why they would stake a clearly false position, or claim, and then step by step back away from that absurd claim or position, as facts are shown by others.

Leave a Reply