Loudoun Board Advances 4-Lane Expansion for Rt. 15

The Board of Supervisors on Thursday voted to move ahead with planning for an expanded widening of Rt. 15 north of Leesburg, one that would create a four-lane, median-divided road from the Leesburg Bypass to the north side of Lucketts.

The endorsement of the $217.3 million program came over the objections of the county’s two western supervisors, who warned that the measure would be ineffective in solving the corridor’s rush-hour congestion troubles and would threaten the survival of numerous small rural businesses lining the road. 

After nearly three years of study, the board was presented with two options.

Concept A calls for a two-lane median divided roadway between Montresor Road and St. Clair Lane, a two-lane bypass around the western edge of the Lucketts village core, a single-lane roundabout at the Spinks Ferry Road/realigned Newvalley Church Road intersection, a single-lane roundabout at Stumptown Road, widened shoulders to the Maryland state line, and a traffic light at Lovettsville Road.

Concept B includes a four-lane median divided roadway between Montresor Road and a two-lane roundabout along the Lucketts bypass and Stumptown Road intersection, a western Lucketts bypass as a four-lane and two-lane median divided roadway,  a two-lane median divided roadway between a two-lane roundabout along the Lucketts bypass and Stumptown Road intersection to St. Clair Lane, traffic calming improvements in the village of Lucketts, a two-lane roundabout at the Spinks Ferry Road/realigned Newvalley Church Road intersection, additional shoulder widening from St. Clair Lane north to the Maryland state line, and a traffic signal and northbound left-turn lane at the Lovettsville Road intersection.

Both options call for 8-foot-wide paved shoulders on each side, along with a shared-use path between Montresor Road and the Lucketts village core.

Supervisors already have planned to spend $110.7 million for improvements between Montresor Road and the Point of Rocks Bridge, but either option will require substantially more money—$58 million for Concept A and $106.4 million for Concept B—by the time construction begins in 2024. The planning level estimated cost for Concept A is $168.8 million; the cost estimate for Concept B is $217.3 million. 

Area residents continue to be split over the project. While surveys presented to the board showed strong support for the four-lane option, a series of speakers addressing the board Thursday evening argued that even Concept A would be more intrusive than necessary to address safety and congestion concerns and that traffic flow could be improved by the removal of stoplights and the construction of roundabouts and other traffic calming features without a large-scale road widening. 

Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), who has spearheaded the study effort, said it was “one of the most challenging projects I’ve worked on and one of the most frustrating” because of the inability to build community consensus around one approach. 

He urged the board to pursue Concept A, saying it was the most cost-effective option to address safety concerns and would protect businesses along the road. He said Concept B, the option endorsed by the county staff, would only move the afternoon rush hour congestion point two miles to the north and also would create longer back-ups north of Lucketts because of Maryland’s two-lane bridge at Point of Rocks. Those results, he said, were not worth spending an extra $46 million.

“You’re not solving the congestion. You’re just moving it and creating more,” Higgins said.

“I don’t not feel that it is worth spending 46 million dollars to knock out about 10 businesses in a stretch of road for two miles to get you some congestion relief in 2040 that may or may not be there,” he said. “That’s the reality.”

Higgins’ position got support from only Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge).

Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) made the motion to pursue Concept B, which he called “a tremendous step forward for safety.” He also expressed confidence that Maryland would be open to building a four-lane bridge at Point of Roads and that Loudoun’s Rt. 15 ultimately would be widened to four-lanes all the way to the state line.

Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) supported Concept B, saying she believed it was the best option to improve public safety. 

County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) noted that Concept B was projected to reduce the number of crashes in the corridor slightly more than Concept A—24 percent to 22 percent—and also said that survey results showing 70 percent support for the four-lane option was very persuasive. 

After supervisors rejected Concept A, Higgins objected to his colleagues “meddling in a project they don’t really know much about.”

“I am extremely disappointed in this board,” Higgins said. “I hope this kind of stuff does not happen to you when you’ve worked so hard for a project in your district.”

With the action, the project will move into a more detailed study and design phase. The schedule calls for the project to begin construction in 2024, with completion in 2027. 

3 thoughts on “Loudoun Board Advances 4-Lane Expansion for Rt. 15

  • 2019-07-19 at 10:30 am
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    Can anyone else smell a pre-election political announcement rather than a solution? According to the above article Chairwoman Randall’s interest was to placate the 70% who prefer four lanes over two while voting for a serious change that won’t even start for nearly 5 years. Yes – take this criticism as part of my campaign for Chair but let’s cover a couple of facts NOT brought up which I will if given the chance:

    1 As former Mayor Umstaddt stated this is about safety. OK – so what is the real problem with REQUIRING VDOT to immediately correct such safety issues on an interstate highway THEY are responsible for? (and using their budget to accomplish it)

    2 The traffic is significantly interstate commutation caused yet there seems to be no initiative to include Congresswoman Wexton in the mix even though she directly stated to me during her first town hall meeting that she would bring transportation resources to bear in an effort to resolve this long term. (interstate commerce is federal jurisdiction which 20,000 Maryland drivers per workday qualifies)

    3 Route 15 north of Leesburg is surrounded by badly maintained gravel roads (Montressor, Wilt Store and Limestone School) yet the BOS didn’t even ask for such roads to be better maintained or paved so local traffic could get OFF Route 15. Board are not required to just say yes or no to multi-hundred million proposals but ask questions and modify them to improve the solutions. The chair plays a major role in making sure such proposals are thoroughly considered not just play politics.

    4 Finally — $200 million is a substantial increase on the property tax rate so did those board members just vote to raise property taxes, lower teacher pay or delay building needed schools all because the relationship with the state and VDOT is broken and nobody wants to admit it? This is an interstate artery that extends through many states yet our BOS (especially the Chair who lives in Lansdowne not Lucketts) thinks paying for this 5 years from now out of our local taxes is really solving the problem of people dying on this road and hours per day wasted in traffic due to its under provisioning by VDOT. REALLY!!! Do I need to remind folks to vote on Nov 5th?

  • 2019-07-19 at 1:15 pm
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    Ah, one step closer to getting a safer Route 15 North. About time. As has been pointed out before, only when Supervisor Umstattd was elected to the Board of Supervisors, did anything finally happen to make this road safer. And now, we also see the power of politics. Supervisor Higgins, now that he is running for State Senate, decides he is no longer interested in a safer road, and instead is troweling for campaign money from those opposed to the improvements. Perhaps that was why Ken Reid, when he was on the Board of Supervisor, refused to do nothing about making Route 15 North safe. Seems for some, safety for the public does not matter much, when political gain may be there to be gotten.

  • 2019-07-20 at 9:01 am
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    So Higgins thinks just because Rt15 improvements are in his district that he alone should have the final say. Funny he has always opposed widening Rt15 and has done next to nothing during his 16 years of public service. Many people have died because he wants to “protect” a dumpy gas station convenience store and a few insignificant businesses. What an excuse.

    Tell that to the families of all those people who needlessly died on Rt15.

    Under his idea of protecting a few small business then he should have never voted on any road widening project because some of those projects took land from businesses.

    Let’s see if we widen the road to north or Lucketts and the traffic moves north closer to Md then they will act. So all those citizens who live south of Lucketts can get home without an hour long traffic jam. Sounds like a good idea.

    My only complaint about plan B is how long it will take to widen Rt15. Evergreen Mills Rd got widened much faster. Even the Greenway took less time to build.

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