Controversial Tri-County Parkway gaining speed

Area national parks, like Manassas National Battlefield, helped to generate more than $1.8 billion in revenue. (WTOP file photo)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. – A north-south highway connecting Loudoun and Prince William counties is closer to being built, after 30 years of debate about its merits and drawbacks.

The project, currently called the Tri-County Parkway, would be a 10-mile limited access highway, connecting Interstate 66 near Gainesville in Prince William County to Route 50, near the Stone Ridge community in Loudoun County.

Proponents, including Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, say the highway would improve the ride for people traveling between Dulles International Airport and Interstate 95, as populations continue to grow in Prince William and Loudoun counties.

Opponents say they’re concerned about a highway running through the historic Tri-County Parkway, and question whether drivers would use the north-south option, instead of the currently busy I-66 and U.S. 50, which both travel east-west.

According to The Washington Post, a second highway would be built, as a “Battlefield Bypass” around the north side of Manassas Battlefield National Park.

The Post reports Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart and Loudoun Board Chairman Scott York support the project, and the National Park Service’s Manassas battlefield Superintendent Ed Clark says it does not damage the historic battlefield.

Eventually, if the current plans come to fruition, Route 29 and Route 234 in Manassas, which crisscross through the battlefield, would be closed permanently.

That wouldn’t happen until 2035, and the Virginia Department of Transportation acknowledges during construction that traffic through the park would likely increase.

Connaughton says an agreement in principal to build the road could be signed by the end of this year, although “funding for construction has not yet been identified.”

One thing that will change is the name of the project, since the “Tri-County Parkway” would only go through two counties. When conceived, the road included a portion in Fairfax County.

Connaughton tells the Post at some point the road would be called “the 234 extension,” referring to Route 234, also called Sudley Road, one of the current two lane roads through the battlefield.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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