Loudoun Board Orders First Phase of Rt. 15 Fixes

Supervisors have voted to begin the first phase of improvements on Loudoun’s famously congested and accident-prone Rt. 15 north of Leesburg, starting with the complicated triangle intersection of Rt. 15, North King Street and the Leesburg Bypass.

To start, the county will modify the pavement already there to add another northbound lane between King Street and Tutt Lane. That work is expected to finish next spring.

The county will also work with the Virginia Department of Transportation to find an engineer to design improvements to the rest of Rt. 15, and with Supervisors Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) and Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) to continue gathering public input. The county will also ask the Town of Leesburg to help fund those improvements.

People living along Rt. 15 packed the boardroom last week to plead with supervisors to fix the road. Alfred McCusker talked about moving into the corridor and watching traffic get out of control.

“We’re talking about shattered lives here, and the growth is something that we had no control over,” McCusker said.

The latest push for Rt. 15 improvements came after a study of congestion gave the road failing marks. The consulting firm that prepared the study recommended a flyover ramp at King Street, a roundabout at Whites Ferry Road, and widening Rt. 15 to four lanes.

“This is a problem that’s been going on for a long time, so I think we’ve made incredible progress in a short period of time, quite frankly,” Higgins said.

The board previously also expanded the first congestion study all the way to the Maryland state line; that study is expected back by winter of 2018.

Supervisors Call Out Black, LaRock on Transportation Funding

Two members of the General Assembly also approached the board as advocates for improving Rt. 15: Sen. Richard H. Black (R-13) and Del. Dave A. LaRock (R-33).

“I won’t repeat the accident stats, but I will remind us all that these involve parents, children, and families,” LaRock said. “Let’s look at this from the perspective of residents who live near and travel Rt. 15. They want no more than any of us.” He pointed out that a functional road network was important for everything from home values to timely response by fire and rescue crews. “How did it get this bad? Obviously, the roads have not kept pace with population growth.” He urged the board to prioritize the project for funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

Black pointed to work he did in 1998 to help construct turn lanes and other improvements on Rt. 15.

“I do stand with all of the concerned citizens on Rt. 15, and encourage you to do everything within your power to reduce the congestion and improve the safety on Rt. 15,” Black said.

But those remarks stood in contrast to their voting and campaign records—both Black and LaRock had campaigned against the funding Loudoun leaders sought to improve Rt. 15 and other county roads.

“In 2013, there was a transportation bill that actually started funding [the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority] for the first time,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “Some of the folks who spoke to us tonight didn’t support that bill or any of that funding, but they are now asking us to fund some of these things through NVTA. My point being with all this, the Commonwealth of Virginia has a heck of a lot more money than the County of Loudoun does, and has been here all the time with the responsibility of building roads.”

Letourneau was referring to 2013’s House Bill 2313, which for the first time created significant transportation funding for the authority by creating a dedicated stream of tax revenue from Northern Virginia. Today, the NVTA funds hundreds of millions in transportation projects every year through a competitive process—including, supervisors hope, Rt. 15. That project is expected to cost $85.8 million overall, $57.1 million of which could come from the NVTA.

Black voted against HB 2313 in 2013, and LaRock campaigned against it later that year in his successful bid to unseat one of its supporters, former Republican Del. Joe T. May. Another Loudoun delegate, Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R-32), was one of the bill’s co-patrons, and others among Loudoun’s General Assembly delegation also supported the bill.

Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) concurred with Letourneau. Loudoun is one of few counties that build roads, and Buona pointed out that this year, transportation projects make up the largest share of Loudoun’s six-year, $2 billion capital improvement program, with $804 million set aside and planned for road projects. That leads schools at $640 million.

County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) was more direct.

“I think it’s rich, just rich, for a politician who campaigned against House Bill 2313 passing, who drives around a pink no-tax pig, to come here today and talk about money through NVTA which he fought hard not to have,” Randall said. “That is rich.”

She was referring to LaRock’s infamous giant pink “Tax Pig,” which he built and pulled around on a flatbed trailer to protest transportation funding such as for Metrorail or HB 2313.

rgreene@loudounnow.com
@RenssGreene

4 thoughts on “Loudoun Board Orders First Phase of Rt. 15 Fixes

  • 2017-10-23 at 4:55 pm
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    And, again, it cannot be pointed out enough, that movement on making North Route 15 safe did not start until Supervisor Umstattd got on the Board of Supervisors. Ken Reid did nothing about North Route 15. Now, we have Supervisors Umstattd and Higgins working, and getting something done.

  • 2017-10-23 at 5:18 pm
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    LaRock was against hb 2313 but it passed meanwhile the Bos wants a bridge and rather than widen 15 North they have been playing a game of chicken with Maryland. Isn’t that 57.1 million about what the roll out for FDK is equal to, yes!

  • 2017-10-23 at 6:42 pm
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    If we simply throttled the waste at LCPS, we would have a lot more to spend on the roads.

    First, past BOS deserve credit for spending LOCAL funds on LOCAL roads. This way, 100% of the Loudoun taxes went to help solve Loudoun congestion. When any Loudoun citizen pays state taxes, we see about 70 cents of that here. So raising STATE taxes in the expectation that other regions of Virginia won’t take a cut (handout) is insane.

    But for the current BOS to criticize LaRock and Black for simply wanting to represent their constituents’ interest in NVTA funding that partly comes from Loudoun residents is sheer hypocrisy. None of them would argue that because Trump won the election that all federal projects should be directed at districts that voted red. Regardless of the amount of taxes raised, they should be handed out without political allegiances playing a role.

    Let’s review. 1. Minimize state taxes at all costs because we lose that game. 2. Minimize wasted money on local orgs (LCPS who won’t hold employees accountable but give huge raises to their board’s spouses). 3. Raise local taxes to pay for justifiable local needs like roads. You won’t get blamed, you will get credit.

    What Randall, Letournea and Buona really meant to say is this:

    “We object to LaRock and Black suggesting rational ideas to solve congestion. Even though we know our citizens lose when state or regional taxes are used to solve Loudoun problems because some of that money gets siphoned off, we prefer that method anyway. You see, then LaRock or Black get blamed for raising taxes. Who cares it hurts our citizens. We weren’t really elected to be honorable or efficient. We just want to defer blame at all costs even if it hurts the people we represent. Oops, did I actually tell the truth for the first time on the BOS?! I’m sorry. Forget I said all of that. How DARE LaRock or Black suggest Loudoun citizens get 100% of the benefit of the taxes they pay! We demand they get only 70% by paying more in state taxes.”

  • 2017-10-24 at 9:40 am
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    Is anyone surprised that Matt and Phyliss are still in favor of the biggest tax increase in 400 years here in Virginia? Amounts generated by a portion of the 0.3% increase in general sales tax increase will be used to support rail and transit projects in the Commonwealth (0.125%) Amounts distributed 40% for rail, 60% for transit Includes the $300 million for Phase II Dulles Rail. These same spend-acholic’s want a bridge for a additional 10 billion dollars over the Potomac. Where is the money going to come from Matt/Phyliss? Tax increases! Remember come election time and vote for Letournea and Randalls opponents.

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