The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors expressed support Tuesday for a developer's plan to turn five miles of Route 7 into a scenic parkway lined with wildflowers, shrubs and trees. The plan, contingent on finding a funding source, also would include constructing five interchanges, already planned for the area, with stone bridges instead of metal.
Cathleen A. "Cate" Magennis, director of development for Xerox Realty, asked the supervisors for help in planning the project, which would include the portion of Route 7 between Route 28 and Goose Creek. Xerox is developing Lansdowne, a residential project and conference resort east of Goose Creek.
The supervisors, while taking no official vote, praised the proposal as "innovative" and proposed possible funding sources, including the creation of a tax district in the corridor. They did not commit county money for the project.
Memory Porter, assistant to County Administrator Philip A. Bolen, said staff supports the parkway project in concept, but noted that federal and state money for county transportation projects is decreasing.
"We don't see those revenues growing any time soon," she said.
Magennis has enlisted the support of eight other development companies that own land in the corridor. They are Belmont Associates, The Bernstein Cos., Associated Cos., developer of Ashburn Village; Intertech Development, The Evans Co., Charles E. Smith Cos., developer of University Center; DeMattis/Tillis, and Linpro Development. The companies have joined to hire Mark Alexander, who has a master's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Virginia, as director for the project. Alexander is forming a preliminary design plan, cost estimate and business plan.
Magennis said she does not yet have an estimate for what the beautification would cost. But she said that the stone bridges would cost at least $1.5 million each, not including the cost of constructing the interchange. The Virginia Department of Transportation already has endorsed a master plan for the area, which includes the five interchanges and the widening of Route 7 from four to six lanes. Magennis said she would like the beautification project to take place at the same time as the road improvements, which are scheduled for completion at the turn of the century.
Magennis said she conceived the parkway idea about three years ago. "I actually started to think about it while I was in a traffic jam in Tysons Corner," she said.
The next day, Magennis said, she found herself in a traffic jam again, but this time on the George Washington Parkway. She said she found the parkway traffic jam much more bearable because that road, as opposed to Tysons Corner, is "aesthetically pleasing." She decided then that Route 7 needed to be aesthetically pleasing as well, she said.