Letter: Martha Polkey, et al, Lucketts

Editor: On July 18 the Board of Supervisors will vote to execute a $300 million project to transform another 3 miles of Rt. 15 into a four-lane controlled access expressway up to Lucketts, with sharply curtailed access for all the property owners for another two miles north. The county’s skillful public manipulation in this process—convincing citizens that a four-lane road to a two-lane bridge will solve congestion and safety issues—sets a new bar for public deception.         

 It’s a fiscally imprudent and environmentally unsound boondoggle that will not solve the congestion problems. There are much cheaper and better improvements that can be made sooner, but the county has rejected them.       What do citizens get for this stupendous amount of money? Loudoun County’s applications for federal and state funding (none of which are posted on the county’s website) claim that the expressway will:

1.    Relieve congestion and eliminate bottlenecks. But the county’s own studies conclude that the bottleneck just gets pushed further north. Any congestion relief will be short-lived as new traffic is drawn from other routes onto this highway.

2.    Increase safety. Yet VDOT’s own internal memorandum found that the kind of “improvements” the county is determined to push ahead with—wide paved shoulders and limited access—will encourage speeding and increase rear-ending accidents. The one improvement that actually could reduce crashes at intersections without reducing access is roundabouts, which have citizens’ strong support. But with each new iteration of the draft plan comes fewer roundabouts and more signals and stop signs.

3.    Preserve the scenic and historic character of the National Scenic Byway. But the $93 million the county has budgeted for acquiring land from 220 parcels indicates the massive destruction this project will entail: leveling houses, fences, and historic properties to create massive clear zones and construction easements. Sample sections of the design show suburban-style streetscapes and plans describe a ditch-type median between north- and southbound lanes. Loudoun County Parkway-style street lights and large berms to shield housing developments from traffic noise are in the works too.

4.    Protect the environment. None of the county’s funding applications even mention the fragile limestone karst geology of the region, and the risks of new sinkholes and groundwater contamination that this massive disturbance will create. In fact, to sidestep doing what’s needed to protect the drinking water supplies for thousands of local residents, the county states it will seek an exemption from environmental evaluations.

5.    Relieve cut-through traffic on Loudoun’s rural roads. But the county’s grant applications say just the opposite, acknowledging that the project will add more cut-through traffic to and from points west of Rt. 15.

6.    Bring “high-paying agritourism jobs to Loudoun.” But business analyses show that fewer, not more, commuters stop at local businesses on higher speed expressway-type roads. And a number of rural businesses along this corridor—Loudounberry, Roots 657 and the antiques store cluster, and Brossman’s Farm Market—will lose substantial land. The county’s plans will also dramatically reduce access for residents and businesses by limiting most drives and entrances to right-in right-out turns only.

7.    Accommodate future development. At last the county is being honest. Its April 2019 Safety and Operations Study states that the purpose of the project is to “accommodate future development and travel demand.” Not in Maryland, but right here in northern Loudoun’s rural area. The controversial 14-pump gas station approved last year is given as the example of the kind of commercial strip development the county plans for this corridor.

            Preservation of the Loudoun’s unique assets—its history, scenic beauty, and productive farmland—is the single most unifying and shared value of our county’s citizens.

         The ink is hardly dry on the new Comp Plan that purports to preserve the rural west. The Board of Supervisors’ approval for a fatter Rt. 15 sows the seeds of its demise. 

Martha Polkey

Nancy Browne

Peter Gustafson

Mary Gustafson

Hugh Ghiringhelli

Rosemary Lawler 

James P. Lucier

Elizabeth Newberry

Stuart Newberry

Avis Renshaw

Tracy Stivers

Andrew Stoddard

10 thoughts on “Letter: Martha Polkey, et al, Lucketts

  • 2019-07-15 at 5:06 pm

    The fallacy here is simply that all the required parties have not been forced to be in the same room at the same time to resolve this escalating problem for the long term. At the first Congresswoman Town Hall I asked Jennifer Wexton a simple question and she responded clearly, professionally and unequivocally that she would bring federal transportation resources to the team our B.O.S. would organize in 2020 along with Maryland and Virginia and Loudoun to finally resolve this for the long term. Just saying no to fix the problem is not productive but neither is doing a little bit knowing that the bottleneck at the bridge will not be part of the “intended partial solution”. I think we all should thank Ms Polkey and her team for bringing this to every voter’s attention. The new board in January needs to be more thorough and more competent than what is currently going on unless someone can make the case that the current 21000 Maryland commuters won’t be coming anymore over the bridge. This is just one of the problems I plan on addressing SERIOUSLY as Chair of the new B.O.S. starting in January assuming voters show up on Nov 5th!

  • 2019-07-15 at 5:46 pm

    How many more people need to die on Rt15 before it is improved?

  • 2019-07-17 at 8:48 am

    Martha is right. The citizens who live along RT15 have no idea of what they’re in for. They’ve been sold a pig in a poke by a developer group masquerading as a concerned citizen group.

    Good luck Lucketts- too bad you couldn’t get the proven safety improvements other regions of the county are enjoying daily.

    • 2019-07-17 at 1:07 pm

      Ironic? Naw.

      What’s ironic is that people residing in a well educated affluent community like Loudoun seem unable to recognize an astroturf paid for by developer and road building interest group for what it is.

      Some say failed politician Ken Reid is the person responding as “Fix Rt 15 Now” quick responder? The fact is, we don’t know who’s behind the curtain.

      Similar to rats and cockroaches, the people who run the “Fix 15 Now” group hide their identities, preferring to work in the darkness. Come on out guys- What are you all afraid of? If you’re really our neighbors show us where the money’s coming from for the slick website and staff.

      *cue crickets

      • 2019-07-17 at 1:12 pm

        And um, yea Sherlock.

        Driving is dangerous. People die in cars. People die in cars on 2 lane roads. People die in cars on 4 lane roads. People die in cars.

        The more cars on the road the more people die. The faster traffic moves the more people die. When you guys invent a road that people can go faster on but don’t die we’ll be all ears.

      • 2019-07-18 at 12:27 pm

        Well, here they go again, and again, and yet again…

        It’s always good to see the usual suspects of the “BOTH” Gang – that’s “Blood On Their Hands” Gang and their names up in lights!

        Let’s start off with the ringleader, cheerleader and all-around “misleader” Martha Polkey (that’s MP to her friends which are very few).

        MP has led the charge as the “safety coordinator” of the Catoctin Coalition for well over 2 decades. And, as the revered “BATH Gang safety coordinator”, MP does for road safety what the bungling, celebrated Chief Inspector Clouseau has done for law enforcement! Can we all say “inept and incompetent results”? Yep, when we all travel along Route 15 “we be “F’d” and can thank good ole MP and her gang! (Her gang was actually soliciting funds to contract a cartoonist to design the Route 15 corridor safety improvements – a CARTOONIST!) I can’t make this stuff up.

        And speaking of membership which is considerably down – the BOTH Gang may consider having a bake sale to raise funds for their cartoonist and that leads us to our next self-vaunted gang member – who goes by the call sign AFF.

        AFF is on another mission altogether or perhaps “trip” – she is searching high and low for rats and cockroaches.

        I would suggest starting with the Mince Pies; now how ‘bout dem Apples … Mom?”

        And speaking of call signs let us not forget the kind and genteelly Ms. “Son of Gus” whose battle cry is “People Die On Roads All The Time – Just Deal With It!” If she were a “fighter jock” her call sign would be “Grim Reaper”! I just hope she isn’t in charge of combatting the opioid crisis afflicting our nation; “People Die From Opioids All The Time – Just Deal With It!” Or lifeguarding at the beach; “People Die From Shark Attacks All The Time – Just Deal With It!”

        We need a bigger clown car to stuff all of these “Woodstock Retreads” in that are still tripping from “The Summer of Love”. They will continue to misspeak, mislead, and misquote information during their attacks on the safety and operation report and unswayable board members to their miscreant fables during tonight’s BOS Business Meeting.

        It should be great theater tonight; actually an early show since the “BATH Gang” will all need to take their Geritol and head to bed by 8PM, and sometimes even for a “swinging” good time…..

        * cue dazed and confused

  • 2019-07-17 at 10:57 pm

    The Lucketts Bypass is sorely needed. Thats the main feature of the $300 million, not just the widening of 15 for 3 more miles. If only Frederick County, MD, would step up to the plate and consider a new bridge so 15 can be preserved as a rural scenic byway. Well, maybe that day will come as more of their residents are commuting here than the other way around . I did the commute from Leesburg to Ft. Detrick last spring and couldn’t handle it. Quit that job.

    • 2019-07-18 at 3:23 pm

      Typical Republican, classic Ken Reid.

      These guys want to spend $300,000,000 of Loudoun County funds when they know perfectly well that

      1) road building is a State Responsibility… full stop. Transportation improvements are supposed to be paid out of our State taxes, not County. We’re already paying for transportation funding all over the state, and

      2) This project will do nothing to relieve congestion unless Maryland lets us widen the bridge and they widen the section of RT15 between the bridge and RT340. $300,000,000 they want to drop knowing it won’t work (but at least they can pretend it will help all the while at the same time helping their developer and road building buddies)

      Pathetic- the party of fiscal responsibility is pathetic when they control the purse

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