The pent-up frustrations of years spent in Rt. 15 traffic were never far below the surface during a Monday night meeting on the county’s plans for that corridor.
Although the meeting, at Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, was set up as a routine public information session hosted by county staff members, supervisors, and consultants, it devolved into shouting matches several times. Some attendees were frustrated with how long Rt. 15 has been a problem area; others were frustrated with the options they were given.
Yet others grew frustrated with the disruptive shouting at the meeting, and beseeched their fellow Loudouners to let the long meeting move ahead.
“My office has been working on this for three years now, going back to the last term, and I know how frustrating it is to wait for something to happen,” said Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin). “But I think the logjam is broken. We’re going to get going here tonight.”
Live polling of the people in the meeting showed some strong preferences for fixing Rt. 15 as it heads north of Leesburg: Attendees said congestion relief was their top priority, followed closely by safety and access to Rt. 15. Beautification, preservation, and bike and pedestrian facilities lagged far behind.
They also showed a strong preference for a grade-separated interchange at the intersection of the Leesburg Bypass and North King Street over any solution that involves a stoplight. The consulting company, Kimley-Horn, had previously recommended turning that complicated merge into a T-intersection with a stoplight. That report did not consider a flyover ramp, because it is the most expensive option and the intersection was predicted to relieve congestion.
Kimley-Horn has also devised an option to get work started on the area as soon as possible, starting with a longer northbound merge lane at the north King Street intersection.
Improvements to the Rt. 15 corridor are predicted to cost between $31 million and $43 million. If the county breaks the work into smaller pieces to get work started sooner, prices could run as high as $52 million.