Editor:Last week, Loudoun Now ran two letters from some of my neighbors entitled “Public Deception” and “Rt. 15 Boondoggle.” The underlying question of both these heartfelt letters is “Why?” Why would the county and its elected officials push through a project worth $300 million taxpayers’ dollars to build a 4-lane expressway that dead-ends at an 80-year-old, barely two-lane, bridge?
I don’t think we have to look too hard to find the answer.
The area from Point of Rocks Bridge to Leesburg, between the Furnace Mountain hills and the Potomac River, is a gateway, and has been for hundreds of years. It’s a gateway to Virginia, Leesburg and Loudoun County, currently the wealthiest per capita county in the United States. This area, besides having a few islands of higher density residential development, is for the most part, horse, cattle and crop farms, vineyards, and a sprinkling of older residential properties, most of which have found a way to qualify for agricultural tax benefits. Most of the roads in this area are unpaved. It’s no surprise that the county might look upon this area as “underdeveloped” as it pertains to the potential tax base it represents. A gateway of this type could generate so much money. So much so that spending $300 million to “open it up” would seem like a small investment, and going against the will of a few of its constituents would seem like a small risk for the greater good of the county as a whole. How much of the voter base does Lucketts really represent anyway? Come on.
I’ve always felt that this is the main driver for the county on this issue, and that they’ve used the traffic situation along this route as an excuse to do the real work they want to accomplish.
Flash forward 20 years. To do this simply take a drive down Rt. 29 to Charlottesville. About 15 miles out from the beautiful old town—it begins. One shopping cluster after another with some residential and commercial building mixed in. Gas stations, fast food and car dealerships. Throw in a few well-hidden massive Internet server facilities. Stoplight intersections every five hundred yards. This gives you the picture.
It has never really been about the traffic here. Traffic is good. The more traffic, the more money. Roundabouts? Who needs roundabouts? This would let people drive straight through. We want people to stop—initially at few intersections, but in the long term, wherever developers want you to stop. This is why we’re building a four-lane road in the first place—for the developers. Decades from now, if it gets too busy, we’ll build overpasses like Rt. 7. AR-1 zoning? Karst Overlay District? Easy fixes. Now we’re making progress.
To my neighbors, I’m sorry for the cynicism. I’m actually heartbroken.
Bill Travis, Lucketts