On January 8, VDOT has scheduled an open house to discuss the North South Corridor at the Four Points Sheraton next to the Manassas battlefield (10800 Vandor Lane, Manassas), 6:30-8:30pm.
Here are some questions to ask at the meeting:
- since funding for new construction is tight, what is the return-on-investment (ROI) of the different projects proposed for Northern Virginia?
- what is the relative cost-effectiveness of the proposed road segments to be built in the North-South Corridor, in particular the Tri-County Parkway segment, compared to other projects that might reduce congestion in Northern Virginia?
- how is cost-effectiveness measured by VDOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board, when prioritizing proposed projects such as enhancing I-66 vs. building Tri-County Parkway?
- how many travelers will benefit each day from the new road?
- from where will those travelers come, and where will they be going (especially how many trucks carrying air freight from Dulles will use the road)?
- based on VDOT’s origin-destination studies, how many current commuters going from Gainesville to their jobs will drive on the Tri-County Parkway, and what percentage of current commuters is that?
- what is the cost of the proposed road segments to be built in the North-South Corridor, in particular the Tri-County Parkway segment?
- if those segments are funded as toll roads, what will be the toll (based on cost to build and the projected number of vehicles)?
It would be nice if there was a rational, analytical basis for building the Tri-County Parkway vs. other proposed projects. VDOT says the road is needed to “ensure adequate capacity and access to allow for projected growth in the Dulles area” (see p.8) That might justify the project, even if the road requires more government debt (and transforms traditional landscapes).
We’ve been through much debate regarding Obama’s stimulus funding for economic development. How is this different? In particular, why should the taxpayers go into debt for this project? Who will benefit from new roads that spur new development at Dulles (UPS and FedEx?) and who will pay for the infrastructure that spurs new profits at Dulles? Are the taxpayers getting a good deal here?
Sadly, it appears the taxpayers are being treated as sheep to be fleeced. VDOT is going through the motions of public involvement, but unless the decision process addresses return-on-investment alternatives, like a Business 101 decision on where to invest for future benefits… this is just an exercise to retroactively justify a decision.
VDOT reveals North-South Corridor Master Plan Study on Wednesday, December 19 – and hopes no one will come to meeting
How do you hold a public meeting, but minimize public participation? Hide the announcement on a rarely-visited website, hold the meeting during the December holidaze, and cut off public input on January 2.
That’s the game VDOT is playing with the Northern Virginia North-South Corridor Master Plan. There is a meeting Tuesday night in Loudoun County at the Stone Bridge High School, and Wednesday (December 19) from 6:30-8:30pm at the Four Points Sheraton Manassas Battlefield (at 10800 Vandor Lane, Manassas, VA 20109).
Yeah, as if, no one has any other activities scheduled this time of year. If VDOT wanted public participation… well, it’s obvious this is just an exercise to meet the legal requirements for public involvement.
After all, the proposed road does nothing to reduce current congestion on I-66. The North-South Corridor is designed to crack open the Rural Area in Prince William, the Transition Area in Loudoun, and the agricultural reserve in Montgomery County across the Potomac River.
Instead of investing scarce funds in expanding the capacity of VRE or existing roads to speed up commuter traffic headed towards DC, VDOT’s priority is… to help trucks get from Dulles Airport to I-81, leaving commuter fixes unfunded. Is that the #1 traffic problem to solve in Northern Virginia?
The VTrans 2035 Update to Virginia’s Statewide Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Policy Plan is supposed to highlight the best way for the state to invest funding from taxes/tolls/fares into the transportation network of the future. VDOT is slowly revealing its closely-guarded secret – that road priorities are disconnected from cost-benefit analyses.
If VDOT was investing for cost-effective performance rather than politics, it would be unable to justify using public funding to subsidize profits for private businesses at Dulles, or for developers of the private parcels along the road corridor.
VDOT is wise to fear that low-tax advocates might figure out the governor’s push for higher gas taxes is driven by so-called “unmet needs” as the North-South corridor. Better hold the public meeting at an inconvenient time…
In July 2012, a Prince William Circuit Court judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by the developer of a community of the shores of Lake Manassas (Case CL04077794-00). The judge’s decision, if upheld on appeal, allows the city to continue to block recreational access to the lake.
Lake Manassas is owned by a public body, the City of Manassas. The Commonwealth of Virginia granted the city authority to destroy a portion of Broad Run in order to create the reservoir.
For years, the city authorized a marina to operate on Lake Manassas, but now City Council has blocked any public use. No fishing, no boating, no waterfowl hunting, no nuttin’ allowed, except by special permission from the city to access the lake.
The city owns a recreational jewel, and it is keeping it locked away where no one can see it.
Prince William Drinking Water Clinic
sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension
Kick-off: November 5, 2012, 7 – 8:30pm
Sample Drop off: Wednesday November 7, 6:30am-10am ONLY*
Results Interpretation Meeting: December 5, 2012, 7 – 8:30pm
Old Courthouse, 9246 Lee Avenue
Manassas, VA 20110-5073
The goal of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program is to improve the water quality of Virginians with private water supplies, such as wells, springs and cisterns. The kick-off meeting introduces water quality concerns in our area, kits will be provided. Samples are collected on a specific date to drop off for analysis. The interpretation meeting explains the test report and what possible options participants may consider to deal with water problems and answer specific questions.
According to the September 3, 2012 Washington Post, the fix is in for building the Outer Beltway/Western Transportation Corridor/Bi-County Parkway (now North-South Corridor) in western Prince William/Loudoun counties. It would connect Interstate 66 to the west side of Dulles airport, extending Route 234 north through areas planned for low density development.
Advocates for the road argue it will generate jobs, and enable Dulles to become a hub for freight traffic. How could anyone oppose such an investment in the future?
Right now the sustainable “smart growth” leaders are questioning the rationale for the project – but advocates for low taxes may catch on soon that the cost-benefit ratio for a public investment is badly skewed.
The road project is primarily designed to subsidize developers who seek to convert the Rural Area of Prince William and the Transition Area of Loudoun into the equivalent of Centreville. The public justification is that the road will increase commercial activity at Dulles. Either way, the taxpayers will get the costs, and someone else will get the benefits. That sound like good public policy to you, or like a bailout-in-advance for a few private businesses?
It took less than a year for the Coles District supervisor to act on the opportunity to open up the Dove’s Landing parcel to public use, after magisterial district boundaries were redrawn to shift the parcel from the Brentsville District.
On August 7, 2012, the Board of County Supervisors committed $100,000 for Dove’s Landing from the 2012 carryover funds. No details were provided in the motion, so it is not clear how the money will be used.
$100,000 is a nice chunk of change, extracted from the taxpayers and allocated in an opaque budgeting process that has drawn severe criticism. Getting money through a budgeting technique that lacked transparency or citizen input, for a project with no plan or performance measures, is far from ideal.
Still, it’s long past time to address the county’s need, as highlighted in the Comprehensive Plan, to provide recreational opportunities beyond ballfields. With $100,000, Prince William could do some real good, or some real damage, to Dove’s Landing.
The county could, for example, repeat its experience at Silver Lake. Ugh.
The Manassas Patch has an entertaining tale of a angler who was fishing from the shoreline of Lake Manassas, when confronted by the county police.
Key sentence: “I confirmed the next day with the City of Manassas Division of Water Utilities that, in fact, it is not illegal to fish from the shores of the lake, so long as you have permission to be on the property where you are fishing.”
(The city has missed a great opportunity to open Lake Manassas to public recreational use, in partnership with George Mason University and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Instead, the city hired extra police and is paying lawyers to keep the lake closed, blocking public access. Only landowners with property adjacent to the lake – and their invited guests – have the right to fish there now.)
Ever hike, fish, or hunt in Massanutten? Been to the vista point at Big Schloss, or enjoyed the view of the forested mountains as you travel on I-66 or I-81?
The US Forest Service is revising the Forest Plan for resource management over the next 10 to 15 years of 1.1 million acres of land in Virginia and West Virginia. Lands for the George Washington National Forest were acquired, starting in 1912, to protect the watersheds of navigable rivers. The entire national forest is located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and today it contains 1,171 miles of perennial streams (of which over 700 miles support a cold water fishery).
The Forest Service’s preferred alternative, Alternative G, would protected the water quality by blocking most uses of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for drilling natural gas wells. The Marcellus Shale underneath the forest is not the richest in hydrocarbons, but there is still the potential for drilling…
Comments on the draft Forest Plan must be submittted by September 1. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Prince William County plans to provide public access to Lake Jackson, creating a canoe access point near the dam.
The Federal government also plans to create 300 additional public access sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed over the next 15 years. One of those could be at Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) – if the US Fish and Wildlife Service decides in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan to provide public access to the Potomac River, as well as to wetlands within the refuge.
The National Park Service is asking for input on improving public access to the water, as part of the process to create the “Chesapeake Bay Region Public Access Plan” by 2012. Tell them what you think, and feel free to highlight the opportunity for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to create public access to the Potomac River at Featherstone NWR.
Topic: start of Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on multimodal transportation improvements within I-66 corridor, between Route 15 and I-495 Capital Beltway
Time: Wednesday, June 8, anytime between 5:00-8:00pm
Location: Four Points by Sheraton motel, 10800 Vandor Lane, Manassas VA 20109
The cure for congestion requires tackling the basic problem – politicians continue to rezone land for new housing far, far from locations where those new residents will work. The math is simple: more people commuting to jobs = more congestion. More of the same ol’ same ol’ development pattern will not solve the problem.
However, there is no “stop growth” solution. Government agencies and private-sector businesses are creating new jobs, people are moving to Northern Virginia – and our region continues to grow. Economic development is a good thing; many regions would love to have problems like ours.
Still, no one wants our traffic nightmare. There are two solutions to our congestion headache:
1) increase the number of jobs near where people live, to reduce commute times
2) locate new housing next to employment centers, to reduce commute times
Doing both makes sense. Doing nothing about the basic problem makes no sense. Just building more roads, without solving the housing/employment disconnect, does nothing to solve the problem. Treating the symptom by widening I-66 or extending VRE to Haymaarket might provide short-term relief… but treating symptoms does not cure problems. Putting a band-aid on a cancer does not cure the disease.