[Update 2013-09-14 - Edited for spelling, grammar and clarity]
The Leesburg Town Council apparently stepped out of line by considering opposition to the Tri-County Parkway, a North-South corridor connecting I-95, Manassas, and Route 7 via Route 659.
Loudoun BoS Chairman, Scott York asked his aide, Robin Bartok to read a letter to the Town council at their June 25 meeting. The Washington post reports that Bartok read:
“The chairman asked me to ask you: Do you support roads? And that’s a really important question,” she said to the council members. “Because if you oppose this road, it appears that you don’t support roads.”
And if the council opposed the road, she warned, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority would “keep that in mind” when determining how to allocate funds from the landmark transportation funding bill passed by the General Assembly this year.
York is on the board of the NVTA.
Robert Chase, President of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (for regional developers) sent an email to Del. Randy Minches (R) and Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard. It read, in part:
“Why would Leesburg want to bite the hands that feed them transportation funds? I would suggest that the most important thing for the mayor to consider is the likelihood of [road projects in Leesburg] ever being funded if the Town Council comes out in opposition”
The forty-five mile road will cost over $1 billion. I’d hope that York and Chase have a better argument for the project than “shut up or we’ll punish you.”
Maybe they don’t. The #1 goal of the parkway is to “Support Economic Growth” and the first object of that goal is (emphasis mine) to
“Ensure adequate capacity and access to allow for projected growth at Dulles International Airport area (see map).“
If you look at a satellite image of the area, you’ll notice lots of green to the west of the corridor. That’s what the NVTA must mean by “projected growth.”
In opposition to the project, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Piedmont Environmental Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, National Parks Conservation Association, and National Trust for Historic Preservation developed a composite alternative (HT Bacons Rebellion).
“Our alternative is designed to address the much greater need for east west commuter movement and to provide for dispersed, local north south movement for current and future traffic.”
Neither proposal fails to “support roads” as chairman York frames the issue. They support different design patterns. The opponents support redundant, scalable grids. The proponents support infrastructure stingy residential labyrinths that leave gaps in the transportation network resulting in congestion and ultimately additional funds to fix that congestion. Loudoun’s 2014 Capital Improvement Plan that allocates $40 Million for Rt. 606 widening is an example.
I know that politics is a tough business, that there is arm twisting and compromise, but is it typically this uncivil? Supervisors York and Higgins have disparaged the PEC, referring to their “projects or programs” as if the PEC’s lobbying for smart land use is like Chase’s NVTA lobbying for developer profit.
Now they threaten elected officials for thinking about the problem on behalf of constituents. Isn’t that thought control? There’s a parallel in Egypt where Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party were ousted by the military after just one year in power. Morsi won the popular election and he won a constitutional rewrite referendum, but his style was autocratic and he consolidated power exclusively within his religious base.
Greedy developer interests are like a religious base that funds tyrannical elected officials’ campaign coffers. They then use elections to impose “God’s design” for their pet “projects or programs” on citizens. “God” must have an office in the NVT Authority/Alliance. His human proxies will get their just deserts, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Happy Independence Day!