Leave WTC Out of Plan

Let's face the facts: The Western Transportation Corridor (WTC) is Washington's outer beltway under a different name, and returning it to Loudoun County's transportation plan is arbitrary and capricious. So why return it?

On Feb. 4, in front of several members of the Board of Supervisors, Loudoun's representative to the Commonwealth Transportation Board told more than 150 people that a study for a river crossing could be done without returning the WTC to Loudoun's transit plan. So, I repeat, why return it?

I support a truly independent, regionally approved study of the need for another river crossing someplace between the American Legion Bridge and Point of Rocks. But it must be initiated with regional, interstate and federal approval and collaboration. And that collaboration needs to be cast in the light of honesty, in full public view. Anything short of that inevitably sets the stage for years of litigious, regional mire.

The proposed alignment for the WTC is based on an inadequate, outdated 1997 study by the Virginia Department of Transportation and on regional concept maps from the 1980s that drew an outer beltway around Washington. In reality, there was no formal interstate study on the WTC because there was no interstate agreement. It has never been about local gridlock or commuter traffic; it has always been about interstate truck traffic.

Returning the designation of the WTC, in any form, to our plan signals approval for placing D.C.'s outer beltway for interstate commerce in the very heart of our county.

Restoring the WTC signals that Loudoun approves of plowing a 24/7, high-speed, interstate trucking route right through the Leesburg neighborhoods of Potomac Station, Northlake, Spring Lakes and River Creek. More than 600 families bought their homes without disclosure of this alignment. Loudoun's latest official discussions with Leesburg found that many homes certainly would be affected. There simply is no technology to bury such high voltage lines. Seeing their homes on one side of the beltway and their schools on the other, residents of these established neighborhoods are understandably dismayed.

Restoring the WTC to Loudoun's transit plan will guarantee selection of this ill-conceived and poorly justified outer beltway alignment. Any nice sounding caveats, such as "not stopping at Route 7" and "keeping options open," mean nothing. Without the land reservations north of Route 7, the WTC would have been dead long ago. Once the WTC is restored, Loudoun will once again request land reservations but only along the power-line alignment, further sealing this option's fate.

Two subdivisions, Red Cedar and Evergreen Village, south of Route 7, were approved while the road alignment was off the books, so just like their neighbors to the north, they, too, would be seriously affected.

All the talk about keeping options open and doing better than Fairfax County sounds sensible unless you know the facts. Fairfax did not rezone its land to match its transportation plans. Loudoun did. Our revised Comprehensive Plan did not envision Leesburg as a stop on D.C.'s outer beltway or our county split in half -- split in half by a high-speed, interstate highway for commerce, with a stop at Dulles International Airport. The impacts would be monumental.

On June 1 [when the supervisors are scheduled to vote on whether to return the WTC to the county's transportation plan], I hope caution, sensibility and protection of our neighborhoods and their property values will carry the day. This is a pivotal decision affecting Loudoun's fundamental character. Returning the WTC to our transportation plan doesn't have to occur to have a regionally approved, independent study of an additional river crossing.

So why do harm? Why devalue these neighborhoods? Why cause these families such unnecessary turmoil?

Sally Kurtz (D)

Catoctin District supervisor

Plan Doesn't Make Sense

A member of the River Creek Regional Homeowners Association (RCRHA) took it upon himself to write a letter to the editor ["A Logical Way to Go," Loudoun Extra, May 27].

The ideas that were expressed in that letter about the Far Western Corridor (FWC) are not representative of the platform on which the RCRHA was founded.

Here are the positions that the RCRHA finds true about the Western Transportation Corridor:

Returning the WTC to Loudoun's transportation plan does not make any sense until Maryland and the federal government come to the table for negations. It is a waste of taxpayer money to reserve land that is already too developed to incorporate a six- to eight-lane highway without destroying many neighborhoods.

An independent study of a Potomac River crossing could be done without returning the WTC to the Loudoun plan. An independent study would carry no predetermined bias as to location.

Incomplete VDOT studies have shown that the current alignment would provide the least amount of traffic congestion relief. Without a river crossing, the WTC would dump six to eight lanes of traffic into an already overstressed Route 7. All three previous county boards have taken the position that an additional north-south corridor discharging onto Route 7 would be unacceptable.

Marcy Maher

Potomac Station representative, RCRHA

Potomac Station