Battlefield bypass conversation resurfaces in Va.

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON – After years of discussion, there may be an agreement soon about the Manassas battlefield bypass.

InsideNoVa is reporting the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Transportation are close to a deal that would build the highway by 2035.

The bypass, which would cost around $305 million, would be built across a western corner of Manassas National Battlefield Park, extending the four-lane Route 234 bypass for nine miles past where it now ends, at I-66 in Prince William County.

The new part of the roadway would extend into Fairfax County and meet with the proposed Tri-County Parkway.

The goal of the construction is to eventually close Route 29 and old Route 234 where they travel through the eastern part of the battlefield. This would move commuter traffic to the bypass, alleviating rush hour congestion.

But despite the reappearance of conversation about the bypass, Stuart Schwartz from the Coalition for Smarter Growth says the deal is far from complete.

“It’s a waste of money, particularly because it fails to target the major traffic problems, particularly the east-west problem on I-66,” says Schwartz.

The area where the new road would go crosses part of the battlefield from the August 1862 Second Battle of Bull Run where 100,000 Confederate and Federal Troops battled for three days with more than 17,000 killed or wounded.

Schwartz says the bypass conversation is not about battlefield preservation. Instead, he says the bypass would open up development opportunities in rural areas on the western side of the battlefield.

The proposal is now in the comment phase for the public’s input. VDOT put the project back on the agenda earlier this year after years of inaction.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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