Hillsboro residents’ trip to pack a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority public hearing on its first six-year funding plan does not seem to have been in vain.
After the Virginia General Assembly voted to strip much funding from the NVTA to help pay for Metro, it seemed Hillsboro’s $12 million request to help build traffic calming measures on Rt. 9 was lost. But Hillsboro-area Loudouners packed a public hearing on the authority’s $1.2 billion six-year funding plan, and it seems to have made all the difference. After that, the authority’s Planning Coordination and Advisory Committee unanimously recommended a six-year funding plan that includes funding for the Hillsboro project.
On top of an outpouring of support, the Hillsboro project is relatively cheap among NVTA projects and is “shovel ready,” meaning all design and engineering on the project is complete. Those plans have been submitted to the Virginia Department of Transportation and Loudoun County government for review. Construction on the project can begin as soon as those approvals—and funding—come in.
Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance has argued the project is not only cheap and shovel-ready, but one of the most cost-effective projects in the NVTA’s list, and that stretching funding out for the project will cause the town to lose millions in cost savings the town has found.
“It’s hard to understand if we can’t take the opportunity to save millions of dollars. It’s good governance and common sense,” Vance said in May. The project, he said, was the first considered by the NVTA west of Rt. 15.
“Right now, we’ve got a project that could start and finish before 90 percent of the proposed NVTA candidate projects could begin construction,” Vance said.
In an email to constituents Thursday, Vance celebrated the committee’s recommendation.
“Your support and the large numbers of comments submitted were noted as begin extraordinary in their volume, content and eloquence,” Vance wrote. “I am certain the outpouring of public support was instrumental in convincing a number of board members to vote to include our project.”
The full authority board will vote on the plan June 14; Vance said there was no reason to expect a change from the committee’s recommendation. In fact, he said, he is coordinating with NVTA staff about attending a groundbreaking ceremony less than a month later, during the town’s Independence Day festivities on July 1.
Vance and the Hillsboro Town Council are also planning a celebration June 15 before an evening concert at the Old Stone School.
“Hillsboro and the entire region—today and for generations to come—are indebted to you for your support and action,” Vance wrote.
Loudoun overall stands to get $337.3 million in NVTA funding for 11 projects, well over the previous draft recommendation of $303.8 million for six projects. That would mean of all the Northern Virginia jurisdictions and regional organizations in the six-year plan, Loudoun gets just over a quarter of all funding.
Also on the list for funding: widening Rt. 28 from the Dulles Toll Road to Sterling Boulevard; widening the Rt. 15 Bypass from Battlefield Parkway to Montresor Road; extending Shellhorn Road from Loudoun County Parkway to Randolph Drive; extending Northstar Boulevard from Shreveport Drive to Tall Cedars Parkway; extending Prentice Drive from Lockridge Road to Shellhorn Road; an interchange at Rt. 7 and Battlefield Parkway in Leesburg; realigning the Evergreen Mills Road intersections with Watson Road, where a crash killed Erin Kaplan, and Reservoir Road; widening Evergreen Mills from Loudoun County Parkway to Northstar Boulevard; and improving the intersection at the Rt. 15 Leesburg Bypass and Edwards Ferry Road in Leesburg.