Route 15 in Prince William designated “National Scenic Byway”

The US Department of Transportation has designated the Journey Through Hallowed Ground route as a National Scenic Byway.  This designation of Route 15, which “traverses the northern Virginia Piedmont, encompassing centuries of historic sites amidst scenic settings” from Gettysburg to Charlottesville, opens the door to increased tourism in western Prince William.

Historical tourism can be a goose that lays golden eggs.  When non-residents visit the county and spend money for food, gas, and mementos, we get sales tax revenue to support local schools, fire and police services, parks, etc.  Tourists bring money to the county, but don’t send kids to Prince William schools – so tourism reduces the need to increase property taxes on Prince William landowners.

Tourists and “context sensitive development” can improve our local economy.

Most of our tourists come to see Manassas Battlefield.  They can be encouraged to stay longer to see Bristow Battlefield, Brentsville Courthouse, Chapman’s Mill, historic St. Paul’s Church in Haymarket, and the unique community of Buckland.

However, tourists don’t drive down Route 29 to see strip malls, gas stations, and gated subdivisions.   Those are not rare.  There’s no need to visit Prince William to see the same ol’ same ol’ development that’s at home.  The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway needs to be uniquely attractive, if we expect tourists to stay long enough to spend any money.

More of the same ol’ same ol’ development could spur the Department of Transportation to re-route the byway designation west, so it avoids Prince William and passes through Fauquier County.

Previously approved development has seriously degraded the scenic view along Route 29 in Prince William, from Dominion Valley south to the intersection with Route 15.   County officials who approve site plans, new zoning, and new road expansion projects need to be conscious of the asset and conserve what’s left, especially at Buckland.

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