Del. Tim Hugo says fellow Republican Scott York should resign from transportation body

July 5, 2013

A Republican opponent of a proposed road that would connect Loudoun and Prince William counties said Wednesday that Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (R) should resign from his role on a regional transportation body over “threatening” comments he made to the road’s detractors.

Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R), who represents parts of Fairfax County and Prince William, made the comments on Bruce DePuyt’s “NewsTalk” on Channel 8 as part of a debate over the proposed Bi-County Parkway, which would connect Interstate 66 in Prince William with Route 50 in Loudoun.

Hugo sparred with Bob Chase, head of the pro-business Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance and a longtime supporter of the parkway, on the morning news program.

The rhetoric has ratcheted up over the proposed parkway in recent weeks, as state officials and local opponents clashed over decisions regarding the proposed road. That was evident last week at a Leesburg Town Council meeting, during which the town had planned to consider a resolution opposing the parkway.

Even though the opposition would have been symbolic — the town has no jurisdiction over the state-planned road — York’s aide, Robin Bartok, read a letter from the chairman to the council questioning the wisdom of voicing opposition to the road.

If the council opposed the road, the letter warned, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority would “keep that in mind” when determining how to allocate new funds from the landmark transportation funding bill passed by the General Assembly this year.

York sits on the board of the NVTA, which helps oversee the allocation of funds for projects in Northern Virginia.

The Leesburg Town Council delayed further discussion of a resolution opposing the road.

York’s message to the council was “schoolyard bullying,” Hugo said Wednesday. “I don’t think that’s proper. I say it’s threatening people.

“I think [York] should resign from NVTA. You don’t treat people like that,” Hugo said.

York said Wednesday that he would not respond to Hugo’s remark. But he said he stood by the message conveyed in his letter to the Town Council.

“There was no threat in there. I just said, if they’re going to be involved in an issue that [doesn’t affect] the town . . . then with so little funds available, I’m not going to support giving them money if they’re going to be anti-roads in the Leesburg area,” York said. “Maybe the mayor and council members want to consider it as a threat. Well, that’s tough.”

Chase also defended York’s comments, saying that “it’s good advice” for the town to reconsider opposing a regional priority if it wants to see funding for its other transportation priorities.

Hugo and Chase debated points well known to those who have followed the parkway issue, including whether the north-south route was worth the expense when most traffic goes east and west, toward and away from the District.

Chase said that commuters and residents shouldn’t see the road solely in terms of how it would affect them now. He compared it to the Fairfax County Parkway, which Chase said established Fairfax as a job hub after it was built.

“It would generate more jobs in Prince William County so more people who live in Prince William County can work there,” Chase said. “It’s about creating balance.”

Hugo said that the closing of roads through the Manassas battlefield — which the National Park Service has said must happen if the road is allowed near hallowed Civil War ground — would cause headaches for commuters around the region, including from Fauquier County.

Hugo said the road would primarily benefit local developers, whom he called “some of Bob’s developer friends.”

Chase challenged the oft-repeated notion that the road is being proposed for special interests, namely developers. “The special interest here is the public,” he said.

Caitlin Gibson is a local news and features writer for The Washington Post.
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