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Votes

VDOT Analysis Sees Opposition

Opinions have been flying back and forth since the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) released its analysis of the proposed developments that make up the Upper Broad Run and Upper Foley Comprehensive Plan amendments (CPAM) and they reached a pinnacle at the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, July 18 business meeting.

In a letter sent to Julie Pastor, the county's director of the Department of Planning, VDOT warned that the development of 28,000 houses in the Transition Policy Area would put a significant burden on roads across Northern Virginia, adding between 250,000 and 300,000 car trips to major roadways over the next 20 years. The analysis also indicated there would be six hours of stop-and-go traffic on Route 50 at Route 28 and two to six hours of stop-and-go traffic on the Toll Road by 2025.

The Transition Area traffic analysis came as part of a pilot program authorized by Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in order to lay the foundation for legislation that takes affect beginning July 1, 2007, which would require VDOT's input into all land-use decisions.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting Dennis Morrison, VDOT's district administrator, presented the department's findings to the Board of Supervisors and was met with strong criticism and opposition from the board.

"My problem is you have written a letter analyzing the traffic impact of, supposedly, this [CPAM] and its effect on the region and two of four points you have pointed out in this letter, I can't see how it is generating the traffic on these roads," Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) said.

IN HIS LETTER and at Tuesday's meeting, Morrison said the county's analysis did not look at the effects of the additional 28,000 houses would have on the region as a whole.

"At a minimum, we recommend that Loudoun County provide information on regional transportation impacts to Fairfax and Prince William counties," Morrison said in his letter.

Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) said he had met with Fairfax County officials three different times to try and work out transportation issues.

"A majority of the problem we have is the Fairfax folks are not ready to accommodate the flow," Snow said.

Snow added that VDOT's analysis did not include the $750 million in road proffers from development companies, which he maintains would alleviate a lot of the traffic issues.

"You can't count four lanes on Route 659 because it will never be relocated without Greenvest," he said. "This here just paints a one-sided opinion without facts."

Snow and other supervisors expressed skepticism over VDOT's facts and the length of time the organization spent on the analysis.

"You started your analysis about a month ago, give or take, and you made certain assumptions and in about four weeks you did something that our staff hasn't done in about 18 months," Staton said.

Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said he did not believe an accurate analysis could have been done in such a short amount of time.

"You are looking at a regional item that takes a long time to look at, not just 60 days," he said. "What bothers me is this data is now going to go out as gospel. I don't believe the numbers. It's published and now I've got to make some decisions on CPAMs."

SUPERVISORS EUGENE Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) had strong words for Morrison over VDOT and the state's involvement in local land-use issues.

"I think you are operating outside the law," Delgaudio said. "I see this as sabotage."

Delgaudio added that the law states localities shall submit land-use applications to VDOT for comment and analysis, but the board had not had a chance to do their own deliberations on the CPAM.

"We are just getting to a point where we have even considered this," he said. "Before we get run over by this truck we should at least spell out when we [should] submit something."

Tulloch told Morrison he believed VDOT was being used by Kaine in what he called a "double taxation scheme."

"I am searching for a plausible theory as to why VDOT would turn out a letter like this," he said. "I can't help but think that Gov. Kaine is using VDOT for political purposes."

While Morrison said it is understood that any land-use decisions are the responsibility of the locality alone, Tulloch said he thought the letter was an attempt to dictate the county's land use.

"If Kaine and VDOT decide to get involved in local land-use decisions, then I would invite them to move to Loudoun and run for supervisor," he said.

Throughout the meeting, Morrison insisted the analysis was only being given for informational purposes, calling them advisory comments.

"Localities are not required to act on our analysis," he said. "This is to help us, and localities hopefully, develop procedures and processes in preparation for July 1, 2007, when regulations take place and you will have to go through this process by law."