Letter: Scott Billigmeier, Leesburg

Editor: Your recent article concerning possible improvements to Rt. 15 North is worthy of further exploration. That there is a problem no one can deny, but solutions and root causes are a different matter. I am of the firm opinion that we cannot build ourselves out of this situation.

We’ll spend millions to ameliorate the current situation but, if the past is any guide, we will take minimal action to address volume and thus the problem will invariably grow. For instance, when zoning allows for a large suburban development to be dropped in the middle of nowhere such as was done on St. Clair Lane north of Lucketts and continues unabated along the corridor, the resulting gridlock is completely predictable.

Apparently, we can’t do much about the traffic flowing over the river from Maryland but we can and should do something about the zoning between Leesburg and Point of Rocks. The county’s “rural hamlet” approach may be working elsewhere but it’s too permissive for this historic byway. Leesburg is the chokepoint and traffic enhancements without concurrent initiatives to reduce volume will be pointless.

Another impact of volume is road noise. The roar of traffic off the bypass, especially from big trucks, can be heard clearly and unpleasantly well into the heart of downtown.

It was nearly 20 years ago, I reckon, that I sat in a meeting where the late Powell Harrison advocated for another bridge across the Potomac. Although a great preservation and environmental advocate, he was pilloried for his suggestion. I’m starting to see, however, that we do indeed need to do something significant to take the pressure off Leesburg.

I don’t know if another bridge at a different location is the answer or even feasible (given all the infill above Rt. 7 and Rt. 28) but it seems we need to ask Maryland back to the table and deal with the facts as they currently exist. Like Loudoun, Montgomery and Frederick counties both have a stake in this, albeit for different reasons, and a fair-minded regional solution is worth revisiting. The alternative is ill-conceived partial solutions to “fix” Rt. 15 that will deliver no lasting improvement and destroy what charm remains.

Scott Billigmeier, Leesburg

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