The list of speakers and their affiliations read like a litany of suburban civic activism: Beverly Forest Association, Springfield Association, Richview Association, Broyhill Park Civic Association.
For more than four hours they trooped to the front of the Fairfax County board room, each with an opinion on what County Board Chairman John F. Herrity likes to call the three most important issues in Fairfax today: roads, roads and roads.
The hearing that stretched from late Monday night into early Tuesday morning was a chance for citizens to comment on the $134.4 million road bond issue that will be on the November ballot. If approved, the bond issue, the largest in the county's history, would pay for two segments of the Springfield Bypass and 12 other road projects around Fairfax.
In some ways, the hearing was a formality and the board's vote to endorse the bond package a foregone conclusion. Herrity said last week that he has already scheduled more than 20 speaking engagements after Labor Day to push the bond issue. But the nearly 100 speakers came and said their piece nonetheless.
The largest contingent, many from traffic-snarled southeastern Fairfax, pleaded with the supervisors to endorse the roads package. They pointed to several major construction projects in Lee District, north of the Coast Guard station, as critical to get traffic moving.
Another sizable group, calling itself the Citizens Alliance to Save Huntley Meadows (CASH), opposed the bond package on environmental grounds. The group's members argued that a $13.2 million project to extend South Van Dorn Street to Lockheed Boulevard and through Huntley Meadows, a wetlands preserve, would severely disturb the ecology there.
The energetic leader of CASH, Norma Hoffman, cited Environmental Protection Agency reservations about the road through Huntley Meadows and hinted at legal action with the assistance of Covington & Burling, a prestigious Washington law firm that has agreed to do free legal work for the group.
There were a few speakers, representing the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, who said the county ought to make developers pay for road improvements and keep the county from borrowing more money. The alliance frequently opposes county plans to spend money on a wide array of programs.
Noticeably absent from the board room were those who oppose the road package because a project will slice through their property, a reminder that one man's parkway is another's front yard.
The absence of this group, which has been vocal in the past, may indicate that those who are most directly affected by the proposed bond issue have resigned themselves to the road projects.
It may also be a sign of the depth of Fairfax County's transportation problems and the countywide recognition that Fairfax will choke on its own growth unless motorists can get to their destinations without sitting in traffic.
Or it could also mean that civic associations have disbanded for the summer, may not yet know the exact routing of the projects or are waiting until closer to November, when citizens and not just supervisors will vote, to voice objections.
"I take a pretty pragmatic attitude," said Dennis J. Schaible, whose home west of Fairfax City is in the path of a planned portion of the Springfield Bypass. "You're not going to hold it back if there's a requirement for it. And there's a requirement for it. We are fighting it, but you can't landmine the property."
Although county politicians say they are confident that voters will turn out in droves to vote for more roads, a major campaign for the bond issue is in the planning stages.
"You can't assume that average Joe Sixpack will recognize the need," said Herrity.
Unless, of course, Mr. Sixpack's car overheated in Capital Beltway traffic the other day.