Prince William County residents won't see bulldozers or cement mixers on Linton Hall Road anytime soon.
They won't see any road crews or piles of gravel at Interstate 66 and Route 29. They also won't see new Virginia Railway Express rail cars.
On Tuesday, county residents defeated a regional sales tax proposal that would have raised an estimated $5 billion over 20 years, money that would have been spent on each of those projects. The proposal also called for widening I-66 and Route 28 and improving various other traffic choke points.
County voters did approve a $86.7 million bond initiative to fund road projects designed to complement those targeted in the regional tax plan. But now that there are no regional projects to complement, county officials are beginning to grapple with how to take care of the problem areas that the sales tax increase was designed to address.
"There was no Plan B from either the proponents or the opponents" of the tax plan, said Supervisor Edgar S. Wilbourn III (R-Gainesville). "There's no question that there's a need for something to be done. It's just a question of how to assure dollars get to where they need to go without a tax hike."
Specifically, Wilbourn suggested that the Virginia Department of Transportation create a priority project list to deal with situations such as the I-66/Route 29 interchange, which is in his district.
Other projects were derailed, and with no Plan B, won't be getting back on track any time soon.
"Every indication is that there will be additional transportation budget reductions and further delays in projects," said Lawrence D. Hughes, Manassas city manager.
Hughes said the immediate victims of the failed tax plan are the Nokesville and Wellington roads railroad overpass projects. The intersections are the scenes of legendary traffic headaches. But at $22 million apiece, they are fat targets for budget-cutters.
The Wellington Road overpass was moved out of VDOT's six-year plan earlier this year. And the Nokesville project has been delayed over the years.
"The failure of the referendum and the continued budget problems of the state virtually assure that those projects will be further delayed," Hughes said.
Of less direct impact is a planned parking garage in Old Town Manassas. Hughes said there was a possibility the sales tax revenue would be another source of funds for the garage.
"Now a project we thought might be accelerated might be delayed," he said.
Board of County Supervisors Chairman Sean T. Connaughton (R-At Large) said supervisors need to take a fresh look at land use and transportation planning in the county.
"I think we're going to have to consider lowering residential [housing] densities based on the ability of our roads to handle additional traffic," he said.
Connaughton, who is on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional agency created by the state that would have distributed the tax money to local jurisdictions, touched on the possibility of a partnership between the public and private sector.
"The only readily available solution is to get the private sector to build some of these projects with the expectation that they could recover the costs," he said. "Is there interest out there to build some of these transit road facilities with tolls?"
Connaughton suggested the Dulles Toll Road as a possible example of what could be done on I-66.
Supervisor Hilda M. Barg (D-Woodbridge) said the message came back loud and clear from voters that government needs to work with what it already has.
Barg attended a meeting last week with the Prince William state delegation and the Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce in which the tax proposal was discussed.
"The delegation basically said, 'This referendum failed, but the issue isn't going away. So it's time to put our heads together and go back to Richmond and see what we can come up with. . . . We'll have to look to the state and federal government for more money,' " Barg said.
Wilbourn stressed that both sides need to sit down with local and state politicians before the General Assembly begins to work toward a solution.
"The key is getting the leadership -- both the proponents and opponents -- together with the government to work out something they can all get behind," Wilbourn said. "There's got to be an answer."