Washington D.C. Outer Beltway Projects: Background
Building the Outer Beltway in Segments Facing widespread opposition to the Outer Beltway and related projects, its proponents have tried to break the project into a series of smaller road proposals. Although this strategy helps hide the tremendous damage the complete highway would cause, these projects would still inflict serious damage in their own right.
The route VDOT is pursuing for this north-south highway proposal aligns with a key 10-mile stretch of a proposed route for the Outer Beltway. It would increase development and traffic, convert nearly 40 acres associated with the Manassas National Battlefield and the Battlefield Historic District to highway right-of-way, and generate noise, air pollution and other adverse impacts. The project would also divert close to a half-billion dollars from more pressing transportation needs in the area, while having little positive impact on traffic. SELC and its partners hired a traffic modeling expert who, using VDOT’s own data, found that the highway would actually increase overall congestion in the region.
Manassas Battlefield Bypass
SELC supports closing to commuter traffic the portions of Route 29 and Route 234 that run through the Manassas National Battlefield Park. However, the solution currently being proposed to accomplish this would entail building a new highway just outside the Battlefield along its remaining undeveloped borders. With better alternatives available (see below), there is no need to build a new highway that would generate more noise, exhaust, and congestion in the Battlefield.
SELC and our partners have endorsed a mix of regional and local transportation improvements. Combined with more sensible development policies, these improvements would address the real traffic problems in the area, protect the Battlefield, increase access to Dulles, and encourage less damaging development patterns—all without advancing a new four-lane highway through the irreplaceable environmental and cultural resources of the Piedmont. We support:
- Diverting to I-66 much of the traffic that currently uses Route 29 through the Battlefield, and upgrading the existing roads that carry traffic around the Battlefield;
- Improving I-66 as an east-west thoroughfare, including improving the interchanges that cause significant congestion and enhancing transit services in the corridor;
- Upgrading Route 28 from Route 234/Prince William Parkway north to I-66, and building the missing link of Loudoun Country Parkway north of Route 50.
- Augmenting mass transit alternatives, such as extending Metrorail to Dulles and providing light rail and/or rapid bus transit from Manassas and Manassas Park along Route 28 up to the Dulles Corridor.
- Upgrading local roads like Sudley Road north of the Battlefield and Pageland Road west of the Battlefield with shoulders and roundabouts at intersections; and
- Protecting Prince William County’s Rural Crescent and the Loudoun Transition Zone from overdevelopment that would add more traffic to major east-west commuting routes, while shifting development to locations with enhanced access to transit.