Editor: Our Board of Supervisors on Sept. 20 will be making an important decision—whether to begin 4-laning Rt. 15 north of Leesburg for 3.5 miles to Montresor Road at a cost of $81.million, leaving 7.5 miles of the remaining roadway to the Potomac River unaltered.
This decision, if made, will essentially avoid making desperately needed safety improvements for 7.5 miles such as widening and hardening grass shoulders on both sides of the road and eliminating bottleneck lights at Raspberry Falls and the Village of Lucketts. In place of lights, the county could install well designed and engineered roundabouts with slip lanes at all major intersections at a cost far less than the $81.million.
To begin 4-laining only 3.5 miles of this heavily traveled roadway without correcting the needs over the entire 12-mile road to the Potomac River is like starting to solve a problem with no solution in sight because Maryland does not plan to build a new bridge in the next 20 years. We are stuck with a two-lane bridge for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, 20,000+ daily drivers on Rt. 15 north will continue to face safety hazards on this roadway beyond Montresor Road, the point where the 4-lanes are projected to stop, if, as expected our board votes to proceed with this taxpayer boondoggle.
These desperately needed safety improvements over the entire 12.0 mile stretch of Rt. 15 north could be accomplished in the near future with existing funds with plenty of taxpayer dollars left-over! Folks—it costs a lot of money to 4-lane any existing highway, especially a Rt. 15 north with approximately 120 private entrances to the road—all of which will have to be restricted to right turn only access, or side roads constructed to get these local residences to the nearest intersection.
There is also a lot of extra expense associated with 4-laning a road through a geological formation known as karst. Rt. 15 goes right through the Karst Overlay Zone established by the county after many wells in Raspberry Falls were contaminated with construction of a golf course in that area. Ask any traffic engineer who has had experience designing a roadway through such a geological formation.
It appears the supervisors are about to choose a direction with no solution in sight. A taxpayer boondoggle would best describe what is apparently now “cooked in” to the decision making process. A decision that threatens to work against all the money taxpayers have spent with the County supporting rural economic development in the Rt. 15 north corridor.
If the board votes to begin the 4-laning process on Rt. 15 north at an estimated cost of $81 million, one has to wonder how we are going to protect western Loudoun from further development under the updated Comprehensive Plan.
We get Rt. 15 north 4-laned, then Rt. 9 west—what a developer dream formulae. Bad decisions made now on major roadways will have unfortunate land use impacts in the future, including discouraging rural economic development. Let’s hope the board has enough common sense not to repeat this mistake with Rt. 15 north.
John Adams, Lucketts