The Dulles South Transportation Alliance (DSTA) presented the findings of its assessment of the road improvements needed in Dulles South and along the Route 50 corridor before a packed room at Tuesday's Dulles South Business Alliance meeting.
The Alliance presented the same information to the Loudoun County Planning Commission at the commission's work session May 1. The commission is currently evaluating the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments (CPAM) that would affect the areas included in the alliance's study.
Martin J. Wells, the president of Wells and Associates LLC, presented the alliances findings, including both the problems with the network as it exists now and improvements needed as development in the area continues.
"What we found was a somewhat coordinated, somewhat disjointed, not fully connected network," he said.
Wells showed attendees the roads that would be developed if the proposed CPAMs were approved, including Old Ox Road (Route 606), Loudoun County Parkways and some of the missing links along Tall Cedars Parkway.
"What emerges is we have not just a section, but long links of road," Wells said.
THE DSTA was created almost two years ago following a challenge issued by Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) for local land owners and businesses to work together to find a solution for the Dulles South transportation issues. While George Mason University and Inova, both of whom are planning large projects for the area, participated in the alliance, a majority of the participants were development companies, including Buchanan Partners, Greenvest and Toll Brothers.
Snow said that the area needs the developers in order to get the road improvements done because there is no help coming from the state.
"How do we make these roads happen where there is no money?” Snow said. "We turn to those with the capital who have done projects like these in the past."
At the May 9 meeting, as he did at the May 1 Planning Commission work session, Snow predicted that 95 percent of the road improvements could be completed by 2010.
"To get that we have to do a little trade off," Snow said, referring to residential development. "There is a little give and take; I'm not going to lie about that."
NOT EVERYONE PRESENT at Tuesday's meeting was convinced by the DSTA's presentation or Snow's remarks.
"This is an overzealous plan that has loads of opportunity for failure," Aldie resident Karen Dellork said. "He is simplifying a very complicated process."
Dellork and other residents were concerned about the way the information was put together. Many said they felt the Dulles South road network was created in a vacuum, giving no consideration to the impact of surrounding areas, including Fairfax County.
During the meeting, Snow said that he did not think that Fairfax County should be his problem, stating that money had been generated for the needed road improvements on the Fairfax side of Route 50 but it was later taken away by the state. Snow also added that additional business and retail development would allow Dulles South residents to work closer to home.
"He's living in a fantasy land if he thinks people are going to work and live in Dulles South," Dellork said. "The reality is that people do not work in close proximity to their homes. [Fairfax] is his problem because it is a problem for the people that live in Loudoun County."
While Dellork said she did not think it was "necessarily a bad thing to have developers contribute to the road network," she and other residents did not think the presented plan would fix the issues.
"When you have county staff members saying that the road network as it is rates a D or an F [for levels of service], how does simply improving on the existing roads improve the network?" Aldie resident Stephen Nichols said. "This network can't hold 300,000 more people."
A LOT OF THE concern over the road network had to do with the development itself. Many residents do not want to see the transition area erased and are worried about the problems that increased residential density could bring.
"We in the area understand that the transition area is going to change, but we don't think it should change so drastically," Jey Jeyanathan said.
While some residents do not believe the information given by the DSTA is taking the increasing population into account, Snow said that the network was thought "through and through."
"We had to solve for the traffic now, what is coming and what the impact of the development will be," he said.
Some of Snow's detractors have said that more development is not the way to fix the problems with Dulles South's transportation problems.
"If development really fixed [our problems] then our roads would be getting better and our taxes would be going down," Andrea McGimsey, director of Campaign for Loudoun's Future, said at a May 1 press conference.
Snow addressed his detractors indirectly during Tuesday's meeting.
"It's been said that you can't grow your way out of a problem," he said. "I think this [study] shows you can grow your way out of a problem. Especially when the alternative is doing nothing and it is nothing that you are sitting in on Route 50 right now."