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When Government Goes Bad

By Greg L | 5 March 2013 | Loudoun County, Virginia Politics, Prince William County | 16 Comments

Over 350 people show up to hear VDOT explain how they’re going to be screwed

Yesterday’s Gainesville District Town Hall meeting at Bull Run Middle School was a perfect demonstration of how citizens react when government agencies seem to threaten their quality of life and don’t appear to be very interested in addressing their concerns.  Supervisor Pete Candland and Delegate Tim Hugo’s meeting with representatives from the various agencies involved in a new North-South Connector between I-95 and Route 7 through Dulles Airport drew a massive turnout of concerned citizens who left the meeting more alarmed, confused and upset than when they first arrived.

This is government at it’s most depressing worst.

If you ever want to see horrible government in action, just watch local, state or federal bureaucrats explain to citizens what is happening with some project or program in which those citizens will inevitably suffer to some degree.  I don’t expect the public spokesmen for these bureaucracies to be tremendous public relations people, or have the authority to take input from citizens outside the strict confines of some formal process and realize the citizens might have a point and modify what’s going on.  It would be nice to see that, but I certainly don’t expect it.

McDonnell’s representative from the Commonwealth Transportation Board explains how he will make sure this happens

Instead what we almost always see is an exhausting brief of the byzantine bureaucratic process that is underway and the tremendous progress being made to ram this initiative to completion despite there being three hundred and fifty people packed into the room who desperately want that initiative stopped that instant.  VDOT and the other agencies represented at the meeting gave a brief that would be well regarded during some transportation planning conference, but absolutely the wrong briefing for this audience.  The people in the room didn’t care about corridor studies from 2005, the process used to complete an environmental impact study, or which regulations govern transportation projects that use money from the National Highway Administration.

They just want to know how they can stop this disaster — and it is all that and more — from happening.

Since these bureaucrats won’t tell them how to do that and obviously aren’t that interested in hearing about the impacts their grand plans will have on communities and individual residents, folks start getting angry and unavoidably come to the conclusion that VDOT, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and the other agencies at the meeting are the enemy.  Elected officials in attendance, such as Bob Marshall, Dick Black, Tim Hugo and Peter Candland, all of whom know how to actually listen to citizens and try to address their concerns are their only saviors.  One side of this equation is concerned about complying with federal wetlands regulations and ‘corridors of state significance’, and the other side is concerned with people.

Delegate Rich Anderson is clearly not amused by these bureaucrats

Supervisor Pete Candland and Delegate Tim Hugo don’t seem much impressed, either

I appreciate the courage of these bureaucrats to come out and put on full display the degree to which they inadvertently foster such widespread contempt and wrath, as it’s not comfortable to stand up in front of hundreds of people and carefully paint a bullseye on your chest.  Someday maybe they’ll figure out that their participation in this kind of meeting doesn’t necessarily have to inflame the audience, but that day is not today.  For now, these bureaucrats conduct their “outreach” with all the gentleness of the Third Panzer Group during Operation Barbarossa.

But even an effective public engagement by VDOT couldn’t mask the disaster this plan has in store for residents in Prince William County.

Residents are still protesting this plan 2 1/2 hours into the meeting

For all the discomfort and pain Prince William County residents will feel from the implementation of this North-South Corridor, it is clear they will accrue no appreciable benefit.  There simply is no pressing problem of people getting from Dumfries to Route 7 in Loudoun County.  Sure, it’s not particularly convenient to do so, but so vastly few even want to it begs the question of why we’re even considering this debacle in the first place.  The transportation problems we suffer from in Prince William County almost entirely relate to inadequate East-West transportation corridors and half a billion dollars (the projected cost of this project) thrown at that problem instead might just improve things a bit.  Plowing that money instead into a North-South Corridor will simply not benefit county residents in any meaningful way.  This is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.

Delegate Bob Marshall points out flaws in the planning and intent of the project

This project has to benefit someone, as there certainly is a push for this project despite the huge costs and disruption for many residents in the Gainesville District.  The stated rationale is that this project will support economic growth in the two strategic areas Governor Bob McDonnell has identified: the ports in Hampton Roads and Dulles Airport.  We’ve already invested a shocking amount of money building an alternate bypass for the lightly-traveled Route 460 between Petersburg and Norfolk and there’s no evidence at all this massive suck on taxpayer dollars is going to yield any benefit.  The same outcome is quite likely from this project as well.

The only beneficiaries to this project would appear to be those interested in increasing development density in the Gainesville District and Loudoun County between the county line and Dulles Airport where there’s already been a substantial residential development boom.  An additional high capacity road would make it possible to open pretty substantial tracts of land up to development, and the wide easements for that road would easily accommodate water and sewer lines as well.  Gum Springs Road is already being widened, Pleasant Valley Road could be widened without too much difficulty, and this corridor running right in between them to the Loudoun County Parkway could turn a pretty huge tract of largely undeveloped and low-density land into the next iteration of Ashburn.

Half a billion dollars of taxpayer money being spent to help developers transform another part of the Rural Crescent into another high density residential profit center for builders and developers.  How wonderful.

In order to do this landowners near the Battlefield are going to pay a heavy price, a portion of the Battlefield itself will be turned into a four or possibly six lane highway, and portions of Route 29 and Sudley Road will be closed.  Bureaucrats are quick to tell us that the decisions about whether this project makes sense and where it will be sited have already been made, and now we’re just working through the rest of the process before this road project gets built.  Our elected officials, who got quite a surprise after this project which has been largely dormant since 2005 suddenly seems to have funding to move forward are struggling to understand what’s happening and what the impacts are, and vowed to me they’re going to at least make sure citizen concerns about this project get addressed.

Let’s hope they’re successful.



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16 Comments

  1. jcp said on 5 Mar 2013 at 11:02 pm:
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    McDonnell administration proposed $10 Million of the new transportation funding for Preliminary Engineering (PE) of the Bi-County Parkway.

    http://www.governor.virginia.gov/utility/docs/Illustrative%20List%20Highway%20Projects.pdf

  2. Anonymous said on 6 Mar 2013 at 9:15 am:
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    It is a very nice picture of Gary Garzynski from the CTB who can be found on VPAP under F Gary Garzynski and National Capital Land Development. Yes, there will be winners.

  3. Manny said on 6 Mar 2013 at 9:19 am:
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    I don’t know why they even bother with these town halls. It always seems that by the time these meetings happen it’s presented as a done deal and it’s mostly just the bureaucrats telling the residents to deal with it. Very discouraging.

  4. Claire Voyant said on 6 Mar 2013 at 10:07 am:
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    This road has been on public maps for over 30 years and has been studied and restudied. There have been many publicized opportunites to weigh in over that time.
    The value of the Dulles Airport connection has been quantified and it is significant to the success of economic development in Prince William County.

    However, Monday night’s town hall meeting didn’t go well for anybody…the sponsors, the presenters, the audience It was heavily promoted by Hugo and Candland, yet they were unprepared for the turnout. The sound system was woeful at best. VDOT’s powerpoint filled only half the large screen and was really only suitable for a small audience in a small room…..and not for the general audience unfamiliar with VDOT-speak. The icing on the inedible cake was the fact that there wasn’t a laser pointer among those participating up front. No wonder the crowd became hostile.

    All that being said, the needed road is coming so its time to focus on the final design.

  5. Padre said on 6 Mar 2013 at 12:04 pm:
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    Claire must stand to gain on this ill-conceived venture. No one has shown where PWC gains a damn thing. Just who all is clamoring to get to get to the back of Dulles? No body.

    There was more wrong with that meeting than theenvironent and no laser pointer. The map was vague. The reason the crowd was so angry is because they realized just how badly they were getti ng screwed.

  6. Bruno said on 6 Mar 2013 at 12:30 pm:
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    Bravo Greg! Very informative on the events at the town hall meeting. One woman there summed it perfectly, prince William county is being used like a one night stand. Corey Stewart should read your post, maybe he might stop openly bragging about how great this road is for Prince William County.

  7. Riley said on 6 Mar 2013 at 1:36 pm:
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    Gee, Disney’s America wasn’t built because it would be “near” the battlefield (Dominion Valley is where it was to have gone), yet this road actually goes through part of it? Seriously?

    No wonder over 80% of property taxes in the county are derived from residential and not commerical real estate taxes.

  8. jcp said on 6 Mar 2013 at 2:25 pm:
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    Just build the road with no access points between I-66 and Route 50. (No access at Route 29, Sudley Rd/234, Braddock Rd.) That will preserve the rural character and provide a route to Dulles/Loudoun County.

  9. Tobias Jodter said on 6 Mar 2013 at 3:29 pm:
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    Now we all know what the massive tax hike was really for.

    I find the idea that this road is for the benefit of Dulles Airport (cargo expansion blah blah blah) to be highly disingenuous. What is the traffic going to do when it gets close to Dulles? Answer: sit in traffic.

    The Dulles Loop of 50-606-28 is totally broken and has been since the era of South Riding-Stone Ridge-Kirkpatrick Farms-Lenah Farms-Dulles Trade Center(s)-Loudoun Valley-Brambleton-Broadlands etc etc etc of the last 10-15 years.

    The first no-brainer step that would most benefit Dulles Airport would be fixing the Dulles Loop. Nothing else should be considered until that is DONE. Adding more traffic to 50-606 from the west before the Dulles Loop is fixed is a bizarre idea. No one can find the $$$$ in the last 5 years to widen 606 despite it being a rush hour parking lot, but it’s easy to find 20X that amount of $$$$ for this? Does anyone realize that 606 is still 2-lane for substantial segments?

  10. Patricia Leone said on 6 Mar 2013 at 9:30 pm:
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    Thousands of Civil War soldiers from the 15th Alabama, the 21st North Carolina, the 16th Missisippi, and the 21st Georgia regiments were bivouacked off of Pageland Lane where the TCP is slated to go.

    The measles epidemic that had been plaguing Virginia swept through their ranks there. The dead had to be buried in shallow graves for which the makeshift wooden markers have long been lost.

    To put a road there would desecrate those graves and compromise the hallowed ground of the Park. ISN’T THERE A LAW AGAINST THIS?

    For historical reference, see Civil War Soldiers: Decimated by Disease
    By Glenn W. LaFantasie under http://www.historynet.com/civil-war-soldiers

  11. Robert L. Duecaster said on 7 Mar 2013 at 1:25 pm:
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    Civil disobedience/insurrection will be the only way to stop this from happening, folks. The VDOT has drawn targets on the behinds of the residents of Western Prince William County. You have a choice, bend over and take their ram, or raise the stakes of the game so high that it’s more costly for them to proceed with this project than it is not to.

  12. Developers of Sprawl said on 8 Mar 2013 at 11:51 am:
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    Sorry, peasants of PWC, you’ll take this road and love it. Suck it, middle class!

    Another gift from the Middleburg-area landowners who forced you to take those 2-500kV lines through your backyards from the Meadow Brook to Loudoun substations.

  13. Wendy said on 12 Apr 2013 at 10:42 pm:
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    Wow, Claire obviously was not very observant during that meeting. While there were issues with the overcrowded room, the sound system, and PowerPoint visuals…and a laser pointer a primary issue, seriously???… the hostility of the crowd had nothing to do with those things. The hostility had everything to do with this unnecessary parkway being shoved down the district residents throats in spite of the heavy opposition to it. This road will cut through the Battlefield and completely destroy the entire Catharpin community. To add salt to the wound, it will be a freight route for the Dulles airport, and will have no benefit to the Prince William residents. It will definitely benefit people….the government and the builders, for example…but it will destroy the quality of life, finances, and property values for an entire community. It will also destroy hundreds of acres of wooded land protecting wildlife, create noise pollution and vehicle pollution, among other things.

  14. Wendy said on 12 Apr 2013 at 11:13 pm:
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    I failed to mention those whose lives will be very negatively impacted by eminent domain and those farmers directly in the road’s path whose very livelihoods will be negatively impacted. One of the speakers, I forget which, even had the gall to announce that the parkway would not take anyone’s property…a comment at which the entire room laughed in irony. PowerPoints and laserpointers, seriously???

  15. Anonymous said on 19 Apr 2013 at 9:58 am:
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    We hope this map will clear up the misinformation. This is the VDOT map which we marked up based on the road closures VDOT and NPS are planning for our area and the effect it has on our transportation network. Your Commute is Going to Get Worse!

  16. Anonymous said on 19 Apr 2013 at 9:59 am:
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    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=436691806425540&set=a.424648834296504.1073741832.419608888133832&type=1&relevant_count=1

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