After seven months of work by a special committee and a team of consultants, efforts to improve traffic flow and safety on Rt. 15 north of Leesburg are moving forward. On Friday and Saturday, more than 200 area residents attended open house forums to review some of the proposals on the table.
The Rt. 15 Stakeholders Committee was appointed by the Board of Supervisors in August and includes representative of 12 homeowners associations, as well as civic and preservation groups. It’s tasked with building agreement on ways to improve the heavily travelled commuter road without losing its rural road character.
It’s a familiar discussion—continuing off and on for 30 years, but over that time consensus has proven elusive.
Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) thinks that is changing with the new effort. And he said he was confident that many of the proposals—including new roundabouts at intersections, turn lanes and wider shoulders—will find funding support relatively quickly. Among the important findings, he said, was that there was adequate right of way available to make the improvements without having to acquire or condemn private property.
During the two open house meetings, held Friday at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg and Saturday at the Lucketts Community Center, residents viewed information boards displaying data on the corridor’s crash-prone areas and traffic chokepoints, and a range of options to address those concerns. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires to share their views and to raise issues that hadn’t been addressed by the work so far. The next step is for the consultants to tabulate those results.
The county government and the Virginia Department of Transportation are moving ahead with a plan to widen Rt. 15 to four-lanes from the Leesburg Bypass to Montresor Road—a project that is expected to relieve the daily afternoon rush hour gridlock in Leesburg.
Under the committee’s proposals, Rt. 15 would not be widened north of Montresor Road. However, to address a chokepoint in Lucketts and to improve safety in the area of Lucketts Elementary School, construction of a “Lucketts Bypass” is being explored.
What is on the table now is different from a larger project that was considered, and rejected, a decade ago. The Lucketts Bypass suggested during the 2007 update of Loudoun’s Countywide Transportation Plan was envisioned as an eight-mile parallel road running east of the village. The new plan is a short offshoot to the west that would move commuter traffic around the village core.
Many residents participating in Saturday’s forum expressed skepticism that the work could address congestion concerns given the large amount of Maryland commuter traffic and the continued development in the Frederick area. Another challenge is providing safe ingress and egress for the 90 homes and businesses that have direct driveway access to Rt. 15. Even at today’s traffic levels, it is often difficult for residents to pull out of their driveways during rush hour.
More information and updates on the project can be viewed at loudoun.gov/Route15.