Yet One More Meeting on “Fixing” I-66 (June 8)

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.

The cure is to grow, but to grow smart.  We need to co-locate new housing next to existing job centers, and entice businesses to open offices in existing housing centers.

What’s the alternative?   We could continue the present development pattern for another 50 years, locating housing in Centreville, then Gainesville, then Haymarket, then Front Royal, then Woodstock..  We could do the same down Route 29, building more subdivisions in Warrenton and Culpeper and Madison and Ruckersville.

If we perpetuate the dumb growth pattern, grab your wallet.  Expanding I-66/Route 29 and extending commuter rail to ever-more-distant suburbs will cost zillions.   Gas tax revenues are not keeping up with inflation or increasing maintenance costs of  infrastructure built 50 years ago, so more sprawl = higher taxes.

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