Editor: Our Board of Supervisors is about to throw taxpayers under the bus again when It comes to making rational land use and transportation decisions.
The four-laning Rt. 15 north of Leesburg to Lucketts makes no sense with a two-lane bridge across the Potomac at Point of Rocks, MD, and assurances by that state it has no intention of widening because of its geography. It defies all logic and will cost hundreds of millions of wasted taxpayer bucks.
First, such a decision by the board ignores the fact that the county’s own studies show that four-laning Rt. 15 north of Leesburg just moves the bottleneck closer to the river. So, for $300 million we move the bottleneck 3 miles north. Does this make fiscal sense? The rejection of the county’s funding applications to the Federal Highway Administration and VDOT’s Smart Scale funding provides us with two clues.
Second, the county board is going to spend a lot of hard-earned taxpayer dollars while doing nothing to improve safety north of Lucketts—which simply needs improved shoulders to allow emergency vehicles to respond to accidents and reroute traffic around them.
Third, our supervisors with their enthusiasm for four-laning everything in the county is about to wipe out most of the businesses along Rt. 15, which provide a lot of good local farm produce, antiques, and other destination venues which generate millions of dollars in taxes for the county each year. So much for all the taxpayer dollars we have invested in rural economic development. This is a classic example of one hand of government working against another, with the taxpayers exploited in the middle.
Finally, our board is in denial when it comes to understanding what generates growth. If you want to generate housing development growth along a corridor—four-lane it. If you want to keep traffic moving safely, replace lights with roundabouts.
So what does our current board do? It votes to retain the light at Raspberry Falls, which generates most of the back-ups from Battlefield Parkway going north in the afternoon and from Lucketts going south in the morning. Will four-laning improve this back up or make it worse? Common sense will answer that question—not to mention the safety concerns of four lanes entering an intersection vs. two two lanes.
It might make more sense to four-lane everything to the river if Maryland would build a new four-lane bridge across the Potomac. But they have no intention of doing so. They have preserved their agriculture areas in both Frederick and Montgomery counties. Their focus is addressing congestion on the I-270 corridor and the Beltway.
So, ask yourself the basic question, don’t we need to elect supervisors who understand common sense and how to save taxpayer dollars? For a fraction of the amounts being approved to four-lane from Battlefield Parkway to Lucketts (approximately $400 million), this board could have improved the safety of the entire 11-mile two- lane corridor to the river by installing Geogrid-stabilized shoulders and guard rails, redesigning curves, and replacing traffic lights with roundabouts (with slip in ramps) for a fraction of the cost.
We need to be reasonable and ask ourselves a basic question—are we better off in moving traffic through the Rt. 15 north corridor safely at the posted speed by improving safety along the entire two-lane corridor, or by increasing speed and sacrificing safety by four laning only three-quarters of the roadway without eliminating the two lights at Raspberry Falls and Lucketts?
As taxpayers in Loudoun County, I hope you will remember to vote for a county supervisor from your district who has some common sense and the facts when it comes to land use and transportation planning. This board has been derelict when it comes to both.
John Adams, Lucketts