Washington, D.C. Outer Beltway Projects
Destructive Highway Proposals Threaten Rural Piedmont
SELC and Partners Call for Proper Re-evaluation of Alternatives
The original study of potential locations for the Tri/Bi-County Parkway is out of date. As a result, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are required to determine if a new study is needed, and the key question is whether the public and decision makers have the information they need to properly assess the environmental impacts of different alternatives in light of major changes that have occurred in the area over the past decade.
VDOT recently released a draft reevaluation of the proposal that only looks at one of the location options. Worse, the reevaluation breezes over or neglects altogether some of the biggest changes that have occurred, such as the construction of two new schools, and plans for a third, along the location VDOT favors. Also, it all but ignores the cumulative impact that this and related proposals would have on the environment, historic resources, and rural preservation efforts in the Piedmont.
SELC and our partners recently submitted a thorough comment letter detailing the need for a valid and objective analysis of the impacts of—and alternatives to—VDOT’s Tri/Bi-County Parkway proposal. Click here to read the letter.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has long been working to advance an “Outer Beltway” around Washington D.C. The idea has been rejected, renamed, and repackaged numerous times; its latest alias is the “Northern Virginia North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance.” In recent years, VDOT has shifted its strategy and is now seeking to build the Outer Beltway piece by piece. These costly and destructive projects, which include the proposed Western Transportation Corridor, the Tri-County Parkway, and the Manassas Battlefield Bypass, would spur far-flung, inefficient development of open space and rural lands in the Northern Virginia Piedmont, increase pollution, and harm historic resources—all while doing little to relieve congestion. Click here for a map (pdf)
VDOT’s own studies have shown that the Western Transportation Corridor, for example, could cost as much as $2 billion and would not relieve congestion on the Capital Beltway. In fact, it would generate more traffic in the region by opening thousands of acres to sprawling development. In addition, the new highway would cut a swath over 50 miles through the Piedmont, harming important environmental, cultural, and historic resources. Among other things, it would:
- Degrade or destroy up to 450 acres of wetlands;
- Compound pollution problems in the Chesapeake Bay via runoff and air pollution;
- Increase vehicle exhaust in an area that already violates federal health standards for air pollution;
- Imperil the integrity of historic resources such as the Manassas National Battlefield Park and the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Parks; and
- Threaten a major drinking water supply for Northern Virginia.
This project has consistently been ranked among the most wasteful and destructive proposals in the United States.
VDOT should focus on solving the region's traffic problems where they exist, rather than generate additional traffic with new highways that would lead to more scattered development. SELC and our partners are working to compel VDOT and other Virginia officials to shift the state's scarce funding and resources away from boondoggle projects like the Outer Beltway. Instead, the state should focus on maintaining and improving existing roadways, enhancing transit and other transportation options, and promote smarter growth while restoring and protecting the Commonwealth's natural resources.
Take Action: Please write or email Virginia's Governor and Transportation Secretary to let them know you object to spending taxpayer dollars on the Manassas Battlefield Bypass and Tri-County Parkway, and that you favor better solutions like the ones outlined above.
Governor Bob McDonnell
Online contact form
Richmond office: 804-786-2211
Sean T. Connaughton, Secretary of Transportation
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
More background on this case:
Washington D.C. Outer Beltway Projects: Background >>