Leesburg Bypass Woes

Ft. Evans IntersectionEarlier this week, Leesburg Councilmember Dave Butler introduced a resolution to provide pedestrian crosswalks on the Leesburg Bypass. This is in response to the significant danger posed by people crossing the Bypass unsafely, today.

To protect residents that need to cross the Bypass, and to further the goal of increasing bicycle & pedestrian use within the Town, on Monday, Town Councilman Dave Butler will propose installing crosswalks at all four Bypass intersections including Battlefield Parkway, Edwards Ferry Road, Fort Evan’s Road, and Sycolin Road.

“Obviously, Leesburg Town staff will need to investigate cost and feasibility, but this is a critical need for Leesburg and we need to move this forward.  Too many of our residents cross the Bypass to earn a living to survive,” said Councilman Butler.  “We owe it to them to come up with a better solution than just a bus.” – Dave Butler

The best solution for the Bypass is a series of interchanges from Fort Evans Rd. north to Battlefield Parkway, and a flyover at Sycolin Road. These are, in fact, the Town’s plans for the road, but there is no funding for these critical, necessary plans.

The fact that we need to consider pedestrian crosswalks on the Leesburg Bypass is due to the total ineffectiveness of our legislative Republican representation in Richmond and Washington DC. Yes, the mess that is the Leesburg Bypass at rush hour is the fault of Joe May and Frank Wolf. For lack of legislative gumption from our representatives, the Town is forced to consider striping a major throughway in the name of safety.  Both Joe May and Frank Wolf have served as chairmen of their respective chambers’ Transportation Committees at various points over the past decade. Joe May is Chair of the Transportation committee in the Assembly, today! And yet, in spite of these positions of power within a legislative majorities, they ignored the emerging need for a solution on the Leesburg Bypass as the problem was building.

During this past decade, the commonwealth faced its biggest battles over transportation funding and planning, but Joe May and Frank Wolf were conspicuously absent from those important debates. In fact, in 2008 – after the 2007 compromise that yielded the NVTA was declared unconstitutional – Joe May said, “We need money raised in Northern Virginia to be spent in Northern Virginia. It is becoming rapidly apparent that we’re at the point where if we don’t address transportation in Northern Virginia it will start to affect the rest of Virginia.”

That was two years ago and yet Delegate May has done nothing to address that imbalance since then.

Similarly, Frank Wolf’s signature legislative accomplishment of the past five years is the Journey Through Hallowed Ground. A significant portion of this “Journey” is US 15 from Charlottesville to Gettysburg. That means the Leesburg Bypass, here in Mr. Wolf’s district. If ever there were a vehicle for addressing the need for interchanges on the Leesburg Bypass, this was it. And yet, though he had been Chair of the Transportation Committee, and though there was bipartisan support for the bill establishing the Journey, Frank Wolf did nothing for Leesburg when given this golden opportunity.

For the record, by the time the Journey Through Hallowed Ground legislation was finally passed, the need for interchanges on the Bypass was clear. The fact that the longest-serving member of the Virginia delegation to Congress could not secure at least some part of $35 million to make his precious Journey Through Hallowed Ground actually safe for pedestrians in his own District is laughable.

Both Joe May and Frank Wolf have served for decades in their respective chambers. Both of them have seen to their personal, parochial issues during that extensive period. But both of them have failed, miserably, to address the real, pressing traffic problems of their Districts. Both of them deserve to be sent home. We need to change our representation in Congress and Richmond before anything will be done to solve the problems of the Bypass.

[Update] I was remiss in not mentioning that Sen. Herring has put together a Rt 7 Task Force to look at interchanges on that critical artery.

On Sept. 21, state Sen. Mark Herring (D-eastern Loudoun) told the Times-Mirror he will soon announce the formation of a new community task force with the goal of developing prioritized solutions to alleviate congestion on the Route 7 corridor between the Fairfax and Loudoun line in the east to the town of Leesburg in the west. – The Loudoun Times

Adam from Sen. Herring’s office has confirmed that the Leesburg Bypass was part of the area that the Task Force is going to be examining closely. Once again, Joe May is silent, absent and ineffective. Thankfully Sen. Herring is looking out for us and building a consensus among stakeholders in the County.