Washington D.C. Outer Beltway Projects
Destructive Highway Proposals Threaten Rural Piedmont
SELC closely involved in review of impacts to historic resources
SELC and its partners have been assessing the huge damage the Tri-County Parkway would cause to historic sites, including the Manassas National Battlefield Park. We recently provided a thorough review that highlighted the need to pursue less destructive alternatives and detailed ways that VDOT’s mitigation commitments must be strengthened in the event the project does move forward. Read the comments letter (pdf).
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 development of open space and rural lands in the Northern Virginia Piedmont, increase pollution, and harm historic resources—yet they would do little to relieve congestion. Click here for a full 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;
- 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 generating 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 promoting smarter growth while restoring and protecting the Commonwealth's natural resources.
More on better solutions »
Take Action: Please write or email Governor McDonnell and Virginia Transportation Secretary Connaughton 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 >>