Nonconstituent service on the Outer Beltway

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“It’s not a frickin’ beltway” — Scott York (R-Toll Brothers)

As one of its very first official acts upon taking office last year, our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to reverse the previous board’s insistence that state transportation officials ought to respect local planning decisions and priorities. In other words, the new board took the highly principled stand that VDOT should be completely free to overrule what local citizens want — and build highways where they are not needed, destroy existing communities, and endanger historic battlefields and parks.

It was no mystery what this was all about: for years the road pavers and home builders lobby has been pushing to build a massive, unnecessary, billion-dollar new highway running from I-95 south of Washington, smack through Manassas, and up to Leesburg. This north-south extravaganza would do nothing to alleviate the east-west commuter traffic congestion, would threaten the Manassas battlefield, and would dump unsupportable traffic volumes onto Rt 7 and 15 at Leesburg, and north to the Potomac River crossing at Point of Rocks.

But it also would be a big fat gift to developers seeking to open up the Loudoun rural transition area to high-density housing, which has been the real reason for it all along. As part of its same package of goodies for developers, the Loudoun all-GOP Board also swiftly reversed the previous board’s decision and voted to expand the Loudoun segments of the project — Northstar Boulevard and Belmont Ridge Road — to a six lane corridor to open the way for this Outer Beltway project.

All kinds of euphemistic phony justifications have been offered for the project over the years; each time it has been proposed and rejected, the developer lobby brings it back under another name: it was going to be the “Washington Bypass” when that was a popular concept; then it was the Western Transportation Corridor, the Tri-County Parkway, the Bi-County Parkway, and various other iterations; now, as the “North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance” it is  supposedly to provide better access to Dulles airport for freight traffic — even though the airport authority says the project makes no sense whatever on those grounds.

Even as Republican legislators in Prince William county and Congressman Frank Wolf (R) have come out in strong opposition to the project, our Loudoun clones continue to dutifully do whatever  Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and the road paver and developer lobby that put them in office tell them to. In particular, Chairman Scott York (R) keeps honking the totally bogus claim that the project will increase freight traffic to Dulles airport, thus being Good For Business. Here however is what Congressman Wolf said about that in his recent letter to Governor McDonnell opposing the project:

I have spoken to officials at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and have been told proponents of the North-South Corridor should not claim the project will lead to an increase in cargo being handled at the airport. I am told proponents of the North-South Corridor have been told this, too.

That’s a politician’s polite way of saying that Chairman York is a big fat liar, and knows it, too, whenever he keeps making this phony claim about Dulles freight.

Wolf also pointed out the utter “lack of transparency” in the whole process by which McDonnell’s transportation secretary ran roughshod over local citizen opposition and failed to inform residents that a huge highway is about to slash through their neighborhoods.

It speaks volumes that it takes a U.S. congressman to represent the local community’s interests, having been utterly abandoned on that score by our 9–0 board of local elected officials who represent no one but themselves — and, of course, the developers who bankrolled their election campaigns to the tune of half a million dollars.

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