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Tri-County Parkway Location Study Reappears

Nothing much has been heard about the Tri-County Parkway since last fall when VDOT refined the project and disclosed the three main routes under consideration for construction.

Now though, the Virginia Department of Transportation has released its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on this project and set public-hearing dates for it. But the document doesn't announce the selection of a preferred pathway.

"WE DON'T choose a route until after the public hearings," said Ken Wilkinson, VDOT project manager for the Tri-County Parkway. "And then the CTB [Commonwealth Transportation Board] will select a route — hopefully, by early fall."

The DEIS may be viewed at the Centreville and Chantilly regional libraries and at www.virginiadot.org/projects/tcp.asp. The Fairfax County public hearing on it will be held Tuesday, May 10, from 5-8 p.m., at Bull Run Elementary, 15301 Lee Highway in Centreville.

However, Fairfax County At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart is among many local residents who'd have preferred VDOT to have named its chosen route in the DEIS. That way, they could know which one is the leading candidate and could comment about it, specifically.

"It would be clearer to make a preliminary recommendation so people could critique it, instead of having to guess what it's going to be — especially since this has been going on for years," said Hart. "For the Battlefield Bypass, the DEIS gave a recommended alternative. This is very vague."

The purpose of the Tri-County Parkway is to link Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, as well as the City of Manassas with I-66 and the Dulles area. It's also aimed at improving traffic flow while reducing congestion and is planned for four lanes in Prince William and six in Fairfax. Wilkinson said a typical section of road would generally require 200 feet of right-of-way to build.

As shown on the map, the three alignments under consideration are:

* West Two — Comprised of segments D and C, it goes west of the Manassas National Battlefield Park;

* West Four — Comprised of segments F', G and C, it also travels west of the Battlefield Park; and

* Comprehensive Plan — This alignment is comprised of segments F', F and E and goes east of the Battlefield Park. It generally follows the path approved by Fairfax County in 1994 and later adopted in its Comprehensive Plan. And of the three proposed routes, this one — which goes through Centreville — concerns local residents the most.

This alternative comes down Bull Run Post Office Road from Loudoun County, bends east just north of the planned SYA "Fields of Dreams," crosses Bull Run Post Office and continues west of the Luck Stone quarry.

It then crosses Route 29 and goes in between I-66 and Route 29, heading east/northeast, behind Bull Run Elementary. Next, it crosses Compton Road near the UOSA sewage-treatment plant, traveling along the edge of UOSA's property into Prince William County.

CITIZENS ARE welcome to peruse the DEIS, themselves, for more specifics about the three alternatives. But an Environmental Impact Assessment Matrix within the document contains information about how the routes compare to each other in a variety of areas.

For example, all three fill the bill when it comes to improving mobility, road capacity and safety. But regarding land-use impacts, the Comprehensive Plan (CP) alternative affects 463 residentially zoned acres, compared to three and 95 in the other two routes.

CP also impacts more commercially/industrially zoned acres, as well as 212 acres of public parkland, vs. 42 acres in each of the other two routes. West Two, however, has the most acres of prime farmlands — 132 — affected.

Of the three pathways, only CP would have an adverse impact on public parklands in the realm of visual experience and internal park mobility and access. And only CP is inconsistent with its county's Resource Management Plan for public parks.

Regarding capital costs, CP would be overwhelmingly the most expensive to construct. West Two would cost an estimated $201,174; West Four, $176,674; and CP, $547,826. Additionally, with West Two and West Four, $210,206 and $194,641, respectively, would be lost to their counties in tax revenue, vs $399,509 lost to Fairfax County if CP is selected.

Some 22 homes would have to be relocated if CP were chosen, compared to 21 and 13 with the other two routes. And 12 neighborhoods would be affected by CP, vs. four and one with the other two alternatives.

The new road would encroach upon five hazardous-materials sites within CP's corridor, compared to just one in each of the other two routes. CP also has another 91 potentially hazardous sites nearby.

As for cultural resources, there are 23 in CP's path, vs. 11 and seven in the way of the other two alternatives. And the cost of noise abatement is projected to cost an estimated $9,481 and $7,694 with West Two and West Four, respectively, compared to $13,193 with CP.

THREE TIMES as many linear feet of perennial streams are affected by CP — 27,070 — than by the other two routes. And CP would also have the largest volume of potentially polluting runoff water from the new roadway — 515,450 cubic feet — vs. 312,650 and 388,700 with the other two alternatives.

CP would impact a much greater amount of 100-year floodplain acres, wetlands, forest-habitat and aquatic-habitat acres and acres of forest not adjacent to the new roadway.

Nonetheless, all three routes are still potential candidates for construction, and local residents are encouraged to attend the May 10 public hearing and make their feelings known to VDOT before a final route is chosen.

Comments may also be mailed to: Ken Wilkinson, Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219, or e-mailed to tricountyparkway@virginiadot.org. Comments will be accepted through May 21. A final Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared, this fall, and then the Federal Highway Administration will issue a record of decision.