Rt. 15 Widening Plan Moves to Board Review

Plans are advancing to widen Rt. 15 to four lanes between the Leesburg Bypass and Montresor Road and improve some intersections—but not without some protests from people living along the road.

Rt. 15 north of Leesburg has long had a reputation as one of Loudoun’s most congested and dangerous roads, and the county government and Virginia Department of Transportation have commissioned numerous studies that recommended improvements to the road over the years.

The county’s efforts to improve Rt. 15—which requires amending the Countywide Transportation Plan that designates the road as a two-lane rural highway—has enjoyed broad public support, especially from the people who make their daily commute on the road. But area residents have concerns.

“I’m here tonight along with my neighbors to do the hard work of citizenship,” Pat Logue said during a Dec. 19 Planning Commission public hearing. “I’m asking you to postpone your amendment to this plan because citizens, in my opinion, have not been fully informed.”

She was among a handful of residents along Rt. 15 who asked the Planning Commission to delay a decision on amending the Countywide Transportation Plan.

But others—including Supervisors Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg)—turned up at the meeting to urge the commission to sign off on the changes.

“This [comprehensive plan amendment] is absolutely critical to addressing the safety and congestion relief project that we’re talking about,” Higgins said. He also pointed to the county’s request for funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for work on Rt. 15.

Some were grudgingly in favor of the project.

“Do I want it to be four lanes? No. But I also want to be young and thin, and that ain’t gonna happen,” quipped Walter Raheb.

“This is not just about congestion relief, this is about safety,” said Raspberry Falls resident David Goodrum, a member of the Rt. 15 Stakeholders Committee that has been reviewing alternatives. “How many more people need to die or be seriously injured on Rt. 15 before we step up and put in the necessary measure to make our road safe?”

Ultimately, the planning commission gave the changes a unanimous recommendation of approval and passed the matter on to the Board of Supervisors.

“When you move a lot of housing developments along a major thoroughfare, you are eventually going to have to change the major thoroughfare whether one likes it or not,” said Commissioner Eugene Scheel (Catoctin). “That’s the broader historical question.”

The changes were greeted with applause in the boardroom.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the plan amendments Feb. 14. Higgins said the county has yet to determine exactly how far up Rt. 15 the widening work will need to go—but pointed to a consultant report indicating no traffic fixes on Rt. 15 intersections would work for long without also widening the road.

“I’m not in favor of adding an extra lane any further than we have to, but we need to know how far that is and then act accordingly,” Higgins said. A consultant report on how far that widening will need to extend is due back in the spring.


2 thoughts on “Rt. 15 Widening Plan Moves to Board Review

  • 2018-01-12 at 6:08 pm

    This photo highlights one of the many issues w/ widening Rt. 15 north of Leesburg – the majority of the cars have out-of-state tags. If the road is to be widen, it will become a de facto Maryland interstate highway, and as such, residents of Leesburg and Loudoun County will be impacted by more out-of-state traffic (cars, trucks and buses), more traffic noise, litter and speeding in residential and rural areas of Loudoun County and more “cut-through” traffic in the Leesburg residential communities of Potomac Crossing, Edwards Landing and Exeter. I sure hope Loudoun County has considered these issues and factored solutions into their proposed budget (I have not seen any evidence of this yet)..

    I believe out-of-state traffic that uses Rt. 15 should pay for it. I believe the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County should install electronic toll devices (like the tag readers that are used on Virginia I-66 and elsewhere in Maryland) to charge out-of-state vehicles for their fair share of the Rt. 15 improvement cost. I believe residents of Loudoun County should not have to pay for widening Rt. 15.

  • 2018-02-23 at 10:21 am

    It is simply not plausible to widen route 15 all the way to the bridge. I live off of Rt. 15 and travel this everyday. The bridge at Point of Rocks is the only bridge to cross the Potomac between here and the beltway! This is ridiculous. With traffic growing, we HAVE to come up with another road that crosses the Potomac into Maryland. Rt. 15 cannot become an interstate highway. There simply are too many homes, small businesses, farms, etc., along this route. Extending the merger from 4 lanes to 2 will help, but may just push the traffic tie up further down the road. Much of the day, the road is adequate. It is during rush hour that there is a problem. If the traffic keeps moving, it is ok. I propose having an adequate paved shoulder on either side of the lanes, so that if there is an accident, a tie up, whatever, traffic can go around it. Otherwise, the traffic can just continue down at a reasonable speed (45 mph, as posted). Part of the problem is all the jokers who want to speed down the road, and pass those going 45-50 mph. It is NOT a highway, but a rural road that is being used as a highway.
    Get Maryland to agree to build a bridge somewhere else!

Leave a Reply