The head of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, that well-connected lobby of developers, road pavers, asphalt producers, and other public spirited citizens, remarked not long ago that the real problem in Virginia was that transportation policymakers were listening “too much” to “small neighborhoods” and “small groups”—also known as the people who actually live in the places where his totally disinterested big group wants to build new six-lane highways.
Luckily in Loudoun, we don’t have that problem any more, thanks to our new all-Republican local government.
Immediately upon taking office in January, the new Board of Supervisors—with no public discussion and no notice—made sure that from now on “small neighborhoods,” or for that matter any neighborhoods, will no longer be able to get in the way of the NVTA’s long-cherished dream of running new multi-lane north-south highways through existing communities, which will do wonders for major commercial property developers and nothing at all to relieve the traffic congestion on east-west routes actually used by commuters:
• First, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted unanimously, with no discussion and no public notice, to drop the county’s opposition to Governor Bob McDonnell’s plan that would let the state trump preexisting local land-use plans when it comes to new highway construction.
• Meanwhile, a policy adopted, with no public notice and no public comment, by the state Commonwealth Transportation Board—a group McDonnell has packed with developers and road building interests (including a past president of NVTA, Gary Garczynski)—allows the state to override local planning by designating “Corridors of Statewide Significance.”
• The CTB then promptly declared the NVTA’s long-sought north-south highway through Loudoun, aka the Outer Beltway or Western Bypass, a “Corridor of Statewide Significance.”
• Then the new all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors among another of its very first actions upon taking office in January ordered staff (following a unanimous vote with no discussion and no public comment) to prepare an amendment to the county transportation plan, reversing the action of the previous board and allowing two key roads in Loudoun that make up a key piece of the Outer Beltway/Western Bypass/Corridor of Statewide Significance to be widened to six lanes (see map above).
Last night, with no discussion and minimal public input, the county Planning Commission voted unanimously (is there a pattern emerging here?) to approve the change and put it on a fast track for a final vote by the Supervisors ten days from now.
Yes, government certainly can be efficient when it doesn’t have to waste time on frivolous things like listening to “small groups” of citizens! Much more efficient to listen only to a manageable group, such as major campaign contributors . . .
The real message in all of this for the people who live here in Loudoun in existing neighborhoods is pretty clear: you’re old news!