The vote has been taken, but it’s not yet clear that the debate is over on the best way to address the daily gridlock that has too long been a routine part of life for county residents north of Leesburg.
At this juncture, the county board is pressing ahead with plans to widen a portion of Rt. 15 to four lanes and to retain the traffic light at the current choke point, the White’s Ferry Road intersection. Meanwhile, critics continue to dismiss that approach as a too-expensive, unneeded and unacceptably disruptive option. They advocate construction of a roundabout and other traffic calming measures instead.
We’ve been to this point before. Decades ago, similar arguments were made in the Rt. 50 corridor as state and local leaders proposed road widenings and new bypasses around the corridor’s towns and villages in an effort to keep traffic moving. It took years of additional study and remarkable levels of citizen activism and persistence to implement the series of roundabouts and other traffic calming touches that have traffic moving smoothly today.
Planners and town leaders in Hillsboro came to a similar conclusion after years of study and debate over the best way handling the traffic rumbling through their neighborhood. Work on two new roundabouts there begins next year.
Traffic calming advocates have heard “it can’t work” and “it won’t work” for decades and they are not likely to surrender to conventional engineering on Rt. 15.
While the community is divided, this most recent process appears to have finally built consensus on the most fundamental element of the debate. Finally, all sides agree that something must be done—now. That offers more hope for the motorists who have spent years sitting in Rt. 15’s daily gridlock than they’ve ever had.
The project must move forward as expediently as possible. We’ll see shape and scale that frames the work in the end, but continuing to ignore the problem clearly is an option that will no longer be tolerated.