County supervisors have voted to take more control over studying the traffic impacts of new developments.
Traffic impact studies are typically performed by the developer proposing a project, but 2017 supervisors Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) proposed giving the county more oversight of those studies after what Letourneau said was an “application that came before us in which, quite frankly, the traffic study was pretty mangled.”
It was not the first time supervisors were skeptical of developers’ claims about the impact their projects would have on Loudoun’s roads.
“We had several applications come all the way to the Board of Supervisors before we discovered what we considered to be significant issues with the traffic studies,” Letourneau said. “So my hope with this is that what we will do is ensure that the quality of the traffic study is much higher.”
The county will now have greater control over what area is studied as part of a traffic impact analysis. A new county staff member will oversee traffic studies, and the county will hire its own consultants to collect traffic data in the area. That data and scoping is then handed over to the developers’ consultants, who do the actual traffic impact modeling under the county and state’s requirements.
Supervisors hope that will cut down on delays over apparently selective traffic counts, such as a proposal to build out the last empty section of Lansdowne Town Center, which was delayed when supervisors questioned a traffic study that did not include one of the main entrances to the property.
Letourneau said in the long run, the county having a hand in traffic studies “is going to save everybody some time, because quality control will be there.”
County staff members will immediately start work to hire that new staff person, and will return to supervisors with the contracts, budgeting and other impacts of the change. Supervisors voted 8-0-1 to start that work, with Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) absent.