Rt. 15 Four-Lane Plans Draw Protest

Plans under consideration to widen parts of Rt. 15 north of Leesburg to four lanes and build a bypass around downtown Lucketts have drawn opposition from people who would rather see the congested road keep its rural character.

County consultants and transportation staff are studying their options on Rt. 15, long known as one of the most congested roads in Loudoun at rush hour. In July, the latest draft of the two leading options was published—both of which include widening Rt.15 to a two-lane median-divided road, installing new roundabouts, and building a bypass around Lucketts.

At a community meeting July 30, Lucketts area residents heard about a third option devised by their neighbor Peter Gustafson. That proposal would keep Rt. 15 two lanes, build roundabouts, and realign some intersections to tie into those roundabouts. People at the meeting estimate 80-100 people were in attendance.

Gustafson’s wife Mary said it’s a way to move traffic along and save the taxpayers money.

“It accomplishes the same thing better, cheaper, faster, less intrusively,” said Mary Gustafson. And she said the third option got overwhelming support at the meeting July 30.

“The Village of Lucketts and the people along there certainly should have a voice in what happens,” said Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance, who spoke at the meeting July 30 about his experience fighting for road improvemetns around Hillsboro. “So that’s my perspective eon it, and I think people shouldn’t give up. It seemed as if they were being pressured to kind of acquiesce.”

The consultant options have been prepared during a process that includes a stakeholder committee, although stakeholder Martha Polkey of the Catoctin Coalition and the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition said that committee too heavily favors homeowners associations.

“That was a little troubling, because we’re not representing farmers, we’re not representing people who have small operations or just live out in the country,” Polkey said. And she said even that committee has been left behind by the consultants’ recommendations.

“It’s kind of ended up seeming like they already had their conclusion, and this public process has been just to kind of show that they had a public process,” Polkey said.

People opposed to the county’s work so far have contacted Ian Lockwood, the engineer who designed the roundabouts on Rt. 50, among other highly-regarded road projects in Loudoun. Lockwood held a three-hour meeting with Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin). Higgins said Lockwood’s ideas have been forwarded to the county consultants—but he said keeping the road two lanes is not realistic.

“What he did through Aldie and Middleburg and now to Upperville, it’s beautiful, and I would love to see something like that on Rt. 15,” Higgins said. “But here’s the rub. Rt. 50 then had about 6,000 or 7,000 cars a day, today it’s about 8,000 or 9,000 a day in that area. We’ve got 26,000 [on Rt. 15], so you’re not comparing apples to apples.”

Higgins defended the process so far as “more open than any process the county has ever held.”

“The real need is another bridge crossing down around Rt. 28, but that may or may not happen in anybody’s lifetime, and we have to deal with the now,” Higgins said.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

8 thoughts on “Rt. 15 Four-Lane Plans Draw Protest

  • 2018-08-08 at 2:18 pm
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    Pretty one sided article here. Of those 80-100 people in attendance, a good 25% of them at minimum were actively opposed to the continued delay tactics by Ms Polkey, Mr Gustafson, and the various special interest groups who want to see the road stay as the complete disaster it is today. These groups, Ruritans, Cactoctin Coalition, PEC, JTHG, etc, who have been fighting improvements for 30 years, are the very vocal minority opposition to improvements, meanwhile every community survey taken over the last year shows that between 70-90% of the public favors a 4-lane solution over the ridiculous network of roundabouts and “traffic calming” that will not handle the traffic in place today, much less what will be here in the future.

    By the way, Ms. Gustafson is the lady who was called out by Chairwomen Randall last winter as being crass during a BOS meeting for dismissing Route 15 safety issues by stating “people die on roads” as if that excuses the mess that we currently have.

    The real issue here is that we have a handful of long time landowners who dont want a speck of their grass touched and who don’t care that the community at large is left with infrastructure that is wholly inadequate.

  • 2018-08-08 at 2:43 pm
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    If the author of this piece of propaganda is going to give space to all of the talking points of this small group of people, at least spend 5 minutes doing some actual reporting to get an opposing viewpoint. The arguments that were made here don’t hold water at all and have been proven false by hard data time and time again.

  • 2018-08-08 at 3:41 pm
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    Sure, go ahead and four-lane Route 15 to the Potomac bridge. Wait two years and what do you see? Cars stopped from the Bridge back to the Leesburg town limits. Drivers will not have gained a single thing from the new pavement.

  • 2018-08-08 at 4:45 pm
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    Charles, do you have any study or data to back that assertion up? Because the actual traffic engineers and multiple studies disagree with you.

  • 2018-08-08 at 4:59 pm
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    I’m also curious as to who is using an unlicensed farm use only vehicle to drive on public roads……

    • 2018-08-09 at 6:38 am
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      Plenty of reasons to legally drive a farm use vehicle on public roads. From the DMV’s website:
      crossing a highway;
      operating along a highway for a distance of no more than seventy-five (75) miles from one part of the owner’s land to another, irrespective of whether the tracts adjoin;
      taking the vehicle or attached fixtures to and from a repair shop for repairs;
      taking another vehicle exempt from registration under any provision of Va. Code §§ 46.2-664 through 46.2-668 or § 46.2-672, or any part or subcomponent of such a vehicle, to or from a repair shop for repairs, including return trips;
      operating along a highway to and from a refuse disposal facility for the purpose of disposing of trash and garbage generated on a farm; or
      operating along a highway for a distance of no more than seventy-five (75) miles for the purpose of obtaining supplies for agricultural or horticultural purposes, seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, or animal feed. (Va. Code § 46.2-665)

  • 2018-08-08 at 8:54 pm
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    Maps inform. Virginia appears deficient in north-south routes. It has 95 to the far east and 81 to the far west with two-lane, truck-abundant 15 in the middle.

    Another problem is zoning that makes housing out of reach for the middle class. Recall that jobs, not developers, cause housing. So commuters needing work and affordable housing drive into Loudoun from cheaper housing to the north, south and west.

    Our northern gateway seems to be the worst.

  • 2018-08-09 at 7:56 am
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    Enough is enough. This road should have been widen 20 years ago. You are not going to please everyone, the road is way over capacity and a big pain to drive. You had your say, now for the thousands of people who have to drive it everyday, get it done.

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