Residents speak out against parkway that would connect Prince William, Loudoun


The crowd at the beginning of the meeting in Fairfax. (By Mark Berman)

A meeting last week meant to discuss Virginia’s long-term transportation projects largely focused on one proposed road: A parkway that would connect Prince William and Loudoun counties.

Residents of the area that could be impacted by the road came out in force to argue against it, decrying a road that they said would force them from their homes and snarl traffic.

The Virginia Department of Transportation hosted the public meeting last week at its headquarters in Fairfax to discuss the state’s long-term, $15.4 billion dollar transportation plan. The six-year plan runs from 2014 through 2019 and covers projects ranging from those in the planning stage to those under construction.

“Nobody’s asking for this road,” Mark Gerl of Centreville said in an interview outside the meeting. “You’re cutting off land, you’re cutting off farmers, you’re cutting off commuters.”

Gerl, a member of a community association against the project, was one of several who spoke about how the project would exacerbate traffic in the area.

Mary Ann Ghadban of Gainesville, like many others at the meeting, has written to state officials to protest the impact of the project. Ghadban, speaking at the meeting, called officials “deceptive” in how information has been presented.

“We are not going to stand for this in Prince William County,” Ghadban said.

A public meeting offering information on the parkway is being held Monday. It’s scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas.

This parkway, as currently proposed, would connect Interstate 66 in Prince William to Route 50 in Loudoun County. It has sparked considerable debate in recent weeks, with business leaders and elected officials speaking out.

State legislators decried the parkway in April, saying it would worsen traffic in the area. Business leaders responded by saying legislators were misinformed. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors delayed a vote on the parkway last month.

Smart growth groups have long said building a north-south road is a bad idea when so much traffic runs east-west.

Dozens of people spoke at last week’s meeting to protest the project, with many citing impact they said would be deeply personal.

Linda Simpson and her husband Hig live on a Gainesville property where Hig grew up. It’s “the last country area around here,” Hig said, and he added that his family has been there for four generations.

“We’ll lose it all,” said Linda, 57. “Our lives are being turned upside down.”

Many people living in that area are close to retirement and want to retire there, Linda said.

Cammy and Bill Yeatts, who live on Pageland Lane in Gainesville, said after the meeting that they worry about losing their home if the parkway is built. They moved into the house, which has a pond and a creek out back, nearly 30 years ago.

“The more I hear of it, the more I just get sick,” said Cammy, 67. “It’ll take our house, it’ll take our neighbors’ house, right on down the road. It’s just dreadful.”

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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