The issue is hardly new, but it is noteworthy that six Northern Virginia Republicans have this week banded together to oppose the “Tri-County Parkway” that would stretch between Route 50 and Interstate 66 and threaten parts of the Manassas National Battlefield.
The officials include Dels. Timothy D. Hugo (Fairfax), Robert G. Marshall (Prince William) and Michael J. Webert (Fauquier) and state Sens. Richard H. Black (Loudoun), Richard H. Stuart (Westmoreland) and Jill Holtzman Vogel (Fauquier).
While it’s no irony that that years-old project is still controversial, what is ironic is that members of the GOP are opposing Republicans Robert F. McDonnell, the governor, and Sean Connaughton, his transportation secretary, who are working behind the scenes to expedite the plan.
There have long been fears that Virginia would deal with its decades of bad planning and starvation funding for excessive traffic generated by the Beltway by merely exporting them somewhere else.
Hard-charging Connaughton is using some rather familiar arguments to push the 10-mile highway in Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties. He says the road would help expedite air cargo flown into Dulles International Airport.
Funny, but he made a similar argument to back the questionable plan to build a new superhighway toll road next to U.S. 460 connecting Petersburg with Suffolk. His argument for that project, which is going forward, was that the Port of Hampton Roads needed new ways to move ship container traffic that was bound to spike once the Panama Canal is widened. Odd that municipal officials in Hampton Roads, who are very knowledgable about their local ports, didn’t share his enthusiasm.
Now that McDonnell has his new transportation plan and, soon, the bucks to go with it, he can push through another pet highway expansion plan that even members of his own party claim will be merely disruptive and threaten protect areas such as an important Civil War battlefield.
The clock is ticking on McDonnell and Connaughton since the governor’s term ends early next year. They don’t have much time left to bulldoze their highway plans through.