Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Kudos to Victoria Neal for her well-written letter ["Nissan Pavilion Headaches," Dr. Gridlock, Aug. 26]. I moved to Gainesville in 1990. I have seen explosive growth in the area since that time, with virtually nothing having been done with Interstate 66 or Route 29 to improve traffic flow.

The state and Prince William County have both done a poor job of assessing, taxing and funding the needs of their citizens. It is fortunate that my employer allows me to work a flexible schedule; otherwise I would have been forced to leave my home because of the traffic.

To allow Nissan Pavilion's construction without adequate transportation infrastructure in place was ludicrous.

I print a concert schedule and keep it in my car. On concert days, I am forced to leave work early or stay late.

The worst experience was a medical emergency with a child that required stitches just as a concert was ending.

To sit in a car through all of those delays with a bleeding child only to finally get to the hospital -- which was full of injured/drunk concertgoers -- and wait half the night to be seen still infuriates me.

I support your idea to have the pavilion declared a public nuisance. In the interim, I might also suggest to anyone who is forced to sit in that traffic to boycott the Nissan Motor Co.

Craig A. Roberts


If the pavilion affects your life in a positive way, by all means buy a Nissan. If the pavilion affects you negatively, then don't. Call it a referendum by automobile purchase.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I, too, have had it with Nissan Pavilion traffic. Last year we took our daughters to see Dave Matthews, and we sat in our parking place for well over two hours after the concert before traffic even began to move. It was a four-hour trip home -- to Great Falls! Inexcusable.

Wolf Trap doesn't have that problem after concerts; neither does Merriweather Post Pavilion or RFK Stadium. That concert was our last at Nissan, and I'll bet there are many others who will never go there again.

Not only is this situation a nightmare for the concertgoers, it is awful for commuters and people who live even somewhat near Nissan.

I agree with your solution: Close this menace until the county and the owners of this facility can develop and build proper access.

Ellen M. Birch

Great Falls

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'm not a lawyer, but Nissan should be closed. Traffic aside, the public safety issues are a major risk.

I shudder to think how an ambulance would get a member of my family to the hospital on a concert night.

I commend people such as John Stirrup, Wally Covington and Sean Connaughton for trying to improve the situation, but we must recognize that they're fighting decades of bad management by previous boards and at the same time watching Richmond fiddle while Northern Virginia burns.

Todd Skiles


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Everybody wants to blame Nissan Pavilion, but the bottom line in the problem is not Nissan Pavilion but those at the county level who approve these venues (and all the huge housing developments) without a proper road development and traffic control plan.

With adequate lanes and traffic control, this wouldn't be nearly the issue it is. Nissan Pavilion provides hundreds of jobs, particularly for young people during the summer months, and those concertgoers provide financial support for the small businesses (restaurants, gas stations, etc.) surrounding the pavilion.

The writer of the original letter did not mention whether she is a new resident of Gainesville (moving there after Nissan Pavilion was built).

If a new resident, the writer should have known about the inconvenience of living near a major concert venue. If the writer was a resident prior to Nissan Pavilion's existence, then my advice would be, "Get thee to a county meeting and make your voice heard."

Julie Welch


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

For many months, I have wanted to contact you regarding the Nissan Pavilion and its love affair with the Prince William County police. I have found your comments to be both interesting and insightful regarding the police and their moonlighting for the pavilion.

I lived near Nissan for years until I moved to Manassas last year. However, I still own my home in Bristow.

My biggest complaint was how the police closed off local roads to expedite concert traffic, making local homeowners drive miles out of their way to reach their homes. It was my opinion that the police were promoting road rage.

Also, they were using public roads as private roads, which I think is unconstitutional. I've had several heated discussions with the county police over these issues.

Previous county supervisors were big supporters of Nissan and, as long as the situation didn't involve them personally (such as sitting in concert traffic), they chose to take the deaf-and-blind approach to citizen complaints.

Vicki McDermott


I'm also troubled that county police (working for Nissan) would convert public roads to private ones to benefit their employer (Nissan).

The police also closed Route 29 to benefit traffic going to and from the Presidents Cup. Never mind through traffic in the Washington-Charlottesville corridor. I thought that was an outrage at the time. Prince William County police seem to be too much in the pockets of private enterprise.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Your recent reply to a writer concerning the ongoing traffic problems generated by the Nissan Pavilion in Gainesville was a disappointment but not a surprise. With a broad brush and only a few column inches, you managed to malign the Prince William County supervisors, the county police and the Virginia Department of Transportation. After that, you offered nothing constructive.

Over the years, you have lobbed many hand grenades at the Prince William Board of County Supervisors from your home in Fairfax County or office in Washington. You do this although you know Virginia does not have an "adequate public facilities" law for use by local governments, as Maryland does. Prince William cannot say no to development just because the roads are inadequate.

Finally, your comment about Prince William police is unwarranted, unsubstantiated and downright unprofessional for a man in your position. Your implication that police officers wouldn't perform their public duties because of part-time private employment should be retracted with a public apology in your column. Prince William has a highly respected, well-liked police force.

Roger W. Snyder


It also has a police department that is too much the tool of private interests.

The county can do something: Develop a master plan with appropriate down-zoning. I suggested one dwelling per 10 acres until transportation facilities catch up with demand.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I don't think a single person on the Board of County Supervisors today was on that board when Nissan was approved. Nissan was approved "as is" (virtually no road improvements were requested of it) because the county and state were certain Disney was going to correct all the major roads in that community -- and it might have, had the real powers that be (the rich land barons of Fauquier County and the Piedmont Environmental Council) not interfered in Prince William County politics.

All that's water over the dam now . . . but history tells us the real reasons for gridlock in Gainesville almost daily. With the exception of a couple of small communities, most of Gainesville (also fast becoming known as the next Fair Oaks) was not even there when Nissan built its facility in an industrial zone.

Yes, Nissan should have and could have done more to improve the roads, but no one asked it to do so. If you were opening a business and no one asked you to make road improvements (we're talking millions of dollars here), would you volunteer?

Don't be a hypocrite, Dr Gridlock. This is about poor planning. But the folks who have purchased the more than 10,000 homes built around Gainesville since Nissan was built surely knew of the traffic issues; they are certainly no secret after almost 10 years. They have been a problem since day one.

And that's exactly why I don't live in Gainesville or Haymarket.

Bob Jurgensen


Here's how I remember the Disney-Nissan matter:

* Disney was not going to "fix" county roads. The major improvement would have been the widening of I-66 from four to eight lanes from Route 234 to Route 15 at Haymarket. There would have been no improvements for any major east-west artery, a situation that bothered the county board not a whit. At the time, the VDOT Route 234 Bypass/widening was not fully funded.

* Disney pulled out after a group of historians, including James M. McPherson, protested the conversion of Civil War-era landscape to an amusement park.

* Disney pulled out before the county supervisors approved the Nissan Pavilion. The pavilion was approved -- 100 dates a year -- with scant concern about transportation access.

* Just as commuters buy a home without trying out their commute first -- only to be shocked after they move in -- I believe people have bought housing in Gainesville only to find out later what they've gotten into with Nissan Pavilion nearby.

My central problem with Prince William governance is that those involved (supervisors and police) are too dazzled by Hollywood-style attractions -- Disney, Nissan, Presidents Cup -- at the expense of the ordinary citizen.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.