Loudoun North-South Highway Controversy

By Loudoun Insider

This issue has been making the news lately.  I am as slow growth as anyone but don’t see a big problem with this.  North-south corridors are a disaster in Loudoun County, and Belmont Ridge Road is an utter embarrassment.


  • edmundburkenator says:

    There was an end-of-the-thread discussion about this road on the last Metro post.

    How much will this cost? How does it get funded? What is it’s impact on current and new residential development, on commercial development? What kind of commercial development does this promote? Is it the kind of development that “Loudoun” (whatever that means) wants?

    You know. All of the questions that keep coming up about Metro.

    Has the public been properly informed on this? What is the vision behind this?

    It feels like just another big, expensive taxpayer-funded project to help a few developers. If the Tax Pig is going to balk at Metro, shouldn’t it balk at this?

  • LoudouninNC says:

    Well said ed. As we were already discussing it at the end of that thread, I will wait for some more voices to add their opinions before I take it up again. You’re right though, the same questions should apply to both projects.

    LI, I would be curious to see some traffic impact studies. I would wager that a good deal of what makes the N-S corridors so terrible is a lack of adequate E-W LOS.

  • Fionnuala says:

    Scott York said, “The purpose of this is to have a good connection for the airport headed southward… they’ve got to have a route for freight to easily come in and out.”

    If that’s true, then why is the majority of the Loudoun portion of this new/modified road north of the airport? Looks like around 80% of it is north of the airport, from eyeballing it. And besides, the project at this point doesn’t provide a route for freight to come easily in and out, not without another E-W road from the Outer Beltway to the airport.

    If the purpose of the road is to provide better N-S Loudoun access, just come out and say so. But this airport rationale doesn’t hold water for me.

  • LowdowneVA says:

    Zero transparency. Zero credibility.
    Bring east coast thru- traffic from I-95 to Route 7 and then what?
    North on 2 lane 15?
    West to Market Street in downtown Leesburg?
    East on gridlocked 7?
    Not south; they just came from there.
    How about north to Maryland, Pa, and New York ?
    That makes sense if it’s cargo we’re talking about.
    Why not say so instead of the usual pretextual political prevarication?

  • Loudoun Moron says:

    Dulles airport is the major economic engine for our region. The fact that road access to it is so poor is mind-boggling. 15 miles from the Beltway and 25 from I95. Every other major east coast airport is much closer to the interstate highway system. Atlanta, Charlotte, BWI, Philadelphia, Newark, JFK and Boston are right by I95 or I85.

    Having a highway connection from I95 around Stafford or Fredericksburg to IAD would greatly increase the geographic footprint that has easy access to IAD. Similarly if there was a link north to Frederick MD or East to meet I370 in Rockville.
    More passengers and cargo through the airport and the potential to utilize all the unused capacity at IAD.

    Something like that I would support in principal depending upon costs and ridership projections. It would strengthen the airport which in turn will strengthen the regional economy.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    LM, I agree that Dulles could have better cargo access and we could strengthen the regional economy if access was done right — and planned in a transparent way.

    How many folks know about this:

  • BlackOut says:

    McDonnell is pushing a public private highways? Seriously, is he looking to create more Greedways? That can’t be right.

  • Let's Be Free says:

    Roads carry commerce. Commuter rail carries, well, commuters. There are enormous benefits from roads that don’t accrue to passenger transit systems, which serve an elite group of workers and benefit a limited band of property owners. Putting road questions on par with commuter rail issues is about as smart as smart growth.

  • liz says:

    LBF, every driver we get out of their car, off the road, and onto rail is one less car to block the timely transport of goods. One less car to block the timely delivery of emergency services. One less car to block the timely arrival of people who are not able to use rail for whatever reason.

    Most users of rail are hardly elite, and their use of rail benefits everybody.

  • Wolverine says:

    II tend to agree with you on this, LI. Mention of an Outer Beltway has always left a not so pleasant thought in my open-space loving self. But the state of North-South traffic has long been a ridiculous and dangerous mess west of Route 28. We have an exceedingly poor system of lateral traffic flow which is not solved by Metro. However, while turning Dulles into an air cargo hub will likely have some economic benefits, seeing all those large trucks zipping along on our roads and chewing them up to a point of raising road repair costs is a potential downside to it.

  • Ross Patterson says:

    BlackOut, what’s wrong with more Greenways? Let’s look at it closely:

    * Built with no public funds and without condemnation or eminent domain.
    * Maintained with no public funds.
    * Policed by VA State Police, paid in full by the operators.
    * Privately owned, paying millions in property taxes.
    * Will be deeded over to the Commonwealth in 2056 at no cost.

    What’s not to like for a Conservative? Sure, it’s $4.00 or $4.80 to go about 12 miles, but hey, that’s capitalism – supply and demand. If the demand wasn’t there, the prices would go down.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I am not saying that this doesn’t need careful study, but overall I think something like this is needed. I am still blown away every time I go south on Belmont Ridge Road from Route 7 – way too much traffic for a two lane major roadway. they’ve already built the houses on both ends of that stretch, they need to provide some commensurate infrastructure for what is already here.

    This is just another reason why we can’t afford Metro – there are still too many substandard roadways in this horribly planned county.

  • Dylan Thomas says:

    I have been following this a good bit. The CTB wants to go to the Potomac and cross into Maryland. This is not likely to happen in our lifetime. If you follow the presentations by the state, you will see they are planning a cutover to the airport north of 50, to provide access.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    DT, I did hear about this new road, but would like to know where you find the state presentations you mention. Thanks in advance.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    10 Lanes? That sure as hell sounds like an outer-beltway to me.

  • Dylan Thomas says:

    They have presented to the board twice, I believe. One may have been the Transportation committee.

  • FedUp says:

    This road is badly needed. It is Loudoun’s equivalent of the Fairfax County Parkway. The existing north-south roads in that corridor – Belmont Ridge and Gum Springs – are an utter embarrassment, while the improvements to rt 234 from I-66 to I-95 have been a major success and an example of what needs to be built from rt 7 to I-66.

  • LoudouninNC says:

    Ed (re:LBF),
    Nice of you to direct LBF to Jim’s article there. I would also tell people to read some of Paul Weyrich and Bill Lind’s past work. You can find the individual articles found in this book (http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/resource-center/books-and-reports/2009/conservatives-and-public-transportation/) all over the net.

  • LoudouninNC says:

    At the risk of inviting endless spouting of Texas pride from LeeJ, Houston’s third beltway was also “badly needed”. When irresponsible, poorly planned development occurs, feeding the pig is an endless cycle. Building a road like the one proposed may temporarily ease some of the congestion on existing N-S corridors, but the road will merely provide a new spine on which to hang the same infrastructural patterns already in place.

    A main reason for the congestion and poor LOS of the existing N-S routes is the poor LOS and congestion on existing E-W routes. That is why they seem to be offering the airport/freight/cargo explanation as the justification of this mess. Wolverine raises an excellent point regarding the freight argument. The cost of maintenance on roads that are used heavily as cargo routes is nothing to sneeze at. Given the reaction surrounding the costs of Metro, this is a major consideration. Furthermore, if the point of this road is to help move freight from Dulles to central VA, what benefit is Loudoun gaining from it? Certainly storage and distribution facilities are going to pass by Loudoun in favor of significantly cheaper locations immediately proximate to this route.

  • LoudouninNC says:

    Bacon had this post up the other day and it is a really interesting, pertinent analysis of the value of the different types of development. Regarding the Metro and this road plan, I have continually stressed the difference in the pattern of development that accompanies each infrastructural investment. In this analysis, the difference is quantified by sq. mile, which is a departure from normal tax revenue ROI calculations.


  • Elder Berry says:

    Please don’t ask my tax dollars to further subsidize the trucking companies, Chairman York. I’m already subsidizing the housing developers.

  • […] As I recall, HCA had proffered widening Belmont Ridge Road to 4 lanes each way from Rte 7 down to Brambleton if the previous BOS had approved their hospital at Exit 4 off the Greenway. A widening that this current BOS (and the state) seems to find very necessary, but will now take tax…. […]

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