Members of the Leesburg Town Council spelled out their position on the Western Transportation Corridor at a meeting with the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Thursday night: It must include a bridge across the Potomac River to Maryland.
The Republican majority on the Board of Supervisors passed a motion in January declaring their intent to put the controversial north-south highway back into county plans. Members have been consulting various entities before a final decision, scheduled for June 1, and two have since expressed reservations.
The primary alignment under consideration, known as the "power line route," would run near power lines in the vicinity of River Creek Parkway, east of Leesburg and west of Goose Creek.
The current Leesburg town plan supports the Western Transportation Corridor. But most town officials say they oppose any road that would end at Route 7 and dump traffic near Leesburg. They acknowledge, however, that Maryland state and Montgomery County officials oppose any bridge east of Point of Rocks, citing budgetary and environmental concerns.
Leesburg Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd said she would prefer that the road be built east of Goose Creek along Route 28, with its corridor of technology companies.
"You'd be aiming that traffic right where it wants to go," Umstattd said, adding that Maryland and Montgomery might be more likely to consider a bridge at that point. "Until they agree to a river crossing, we're just talking to ourselves," she said.
Supervisor Eugene R. Delgaudio (R-Sterling) disagreed with Umstattd's suggestion. "I object to making the Western Transportation Corridor the Eastern Transportation Corridor," he said.
"Building a 'techway' doesn't replace the need for a western corridor," said Leesburg Town Council Member Robert J. "Bob" Zoldos. "There are different travel patterns that require different solutions."
Supervisors who support putting the WTC back into county plans say they are merely acting prudently to avoid losing commitments from several developers to set aside land for the road.
"If you allow houses to be built on this right of way, then this option is gone," agreed Leesburg Town Council member David B. Schmidt.
Loudoun County staff members also answered questions posed by Leesburg officials at a previous meeting. The county analyzed, for example, whether the highway's proposed 4,000-foot corridor could be narrowed. Ann Eberhart Goode, a program manager in the county planning department, said the corridor needed to be at least 1,500 feet wide.
Advocates say such a highway could connect important job centers in Virginia and Maryland, help the Washington area's traffic flow and open large areas for home and commercial construction. Opponents say the road would not solve east-west congestion but would lure large numbers of new travelers by promoting inefficient sprawl development far from the region's urban centers.