The proposed North-South Corridor came up in local news again this week. I’ve mentioned this in the past and how it could impact the Manassas battlefield. This proposal essentially replaced the stalled Tri-County Parkway. In short, this would provide a high speed corridor, with multi-lane highways and no at-grade crossings, from I-95 through the Manassas area and Loudoun County to Virginia 7 outside Leesburg. The Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment offered this graphic to show the changes proposed, with a focus on the changes proposed for Loudoun County (courtesy Leesburg Today):
The Leesburg town council held a public hearing on the proposed corridor on Tuesday, July 23. From Leesburg Today:
The Leesburg Town Council Tuesday night adopted a resolution formally opposing plans to develop a limited access highway, in the form of the state designated North-South Corridor, through Prince William and Loudoun counties.
The vote was 5-2 and followed an hour-long pubic comment period during which activists working to combat climate change and several Prince William County residents urged the council to oppose the project.
The final version of the council’s resolution differed significantly from one proposed by Mayor Kristen Umstattd in June. Amendments were made following Monday night’s briefing by the VDOT project manager involved with the reccently completed study on how to develop a new link between I-95 and Rt. 7. VDOT’s Tom Fahrney said the Commonwealth Transportation Board earlier this year accepted, but did not endorse, a consultant’s recommendations of a high-capacity highway including HOV and toll lanes in the corridor. Fahrney said the consultant’s recommendations don’t match plans adopted by the localities and would likely remain on the shelf unless conditions change.
The final resolution deleted referenced to truck traffic, which Fahrney said was not expected to increase significantly in the area, and to threats to the Manassas National Battlefield, after Fahrney said construction of the Bi-County Parkway could not proceed without approval of the National Parks Service and other agencies. The resolution continues to voice objection to the possibility that transportation funds could be allocated to the North-South Corridor project ahead of more pressing regional needs, including construction that would improve east-west commuter movements. The council’s resolution also restates the need for funding for interchange construction on the Leesburg Bypass and Rt. 7 in Leesburg, as well as continued support for the county’s local bus system.
I think this was the right move, and applaud the council’s resolution, particularly the amendments. In the past the corridor, like the Tri-County Parkway before, has been offered as a relief for Northern Virginia’s traffic woes. After many years a commuter in said traffic, I consider myself an expert on that subject (earned after 1,000 hours stuck in said traffic!). The traffic problem is east to west, not north to south. And until a new bridge is in place across the Potomac, all the North-South Corridor would do is dump more traffic into Loudoun with no place for it to run.
However, there is one good point within the North-South Corridor which, I think, should be acted upon separately. The proposal includes a plan to close off through traffic on the Manassas battlefield (US 29 and VA 234). In my opinion, we need to first enact some means of redirecting that traffic – and not necessarily the option proposed as part of the North-South Corridor, but some arrangement that protects the battlefield in the best possible manner. Once that is complete, and we have time to reassess traffic patterns, can we start thinking about additional North-South Corridor options.