In the Road Business?

In the Road Business?

The Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with a Route 7 bond package that would put several different road development projects on the Nov. 7 referendum.

At a Monday, June 26, committee-of-the-whole supervisors voted to forward the package to a future business meeting for action. In order for the package to be included in this year's referendum, the board must approve the referendum questions by July 18.

During their fiscal year 2007 budget debates, Supervisors voted to include $12.5 million in the Capital Improvement Plan for the design of four different road projects.

Those projects, an interchange at Route 50 and Loudoun County Parkway, the improvement of Route 50 from Poland Road (Route 742) to the Fairfax County line, an interchange at Route 7 and Belmont Ridge Road and the improvement of Belmont Ridge Road (Route 659) from Gloucester Parkway to the Dulles Greenway, were included in the Route 7 bond package.

The board also included project design for an interchange at Route 7 and Route 690 (Hillsboro Road), which will help with traffic for the new western Loudoun high school and a Sycolin Road overpass above the Route 15/Route 7 bypass.

The proposed package includes only one construction project, the interchange at Route 7 and Loudoun County Parkway, which could be approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) as early as this fall.

Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run), who made the motion to forward the bond package, said the board should take decisive action.

"I believe it is time for us to take this step forward," she said. "People don't want talk anymore; they want to see some action. Unless someone is growing money trees to pay for these things, we have to take this on and we have to deliver the solutions and we have to be part of the solution."

WHILE THE MONEY for the projects will initially come from the county, Supervisors expressed hope that they would be able to make arrangements for developers to cover most of the cost.

"I think that we are not looking to fund all of this," Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) said. "I think that the theory is we get things moving as soon as we can and someone comes in later and funds it."

Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) said the board already had a proffer from the Peterson Companies for the Loudoun County Parkway and Route 7 interchange and that the company had offered to reimburse the cost of construction if someone else built the interchange first.

"If we want to move forward with this we would be doing it before their time table," he said.

Instead of waiting for the development community to begin proffering the projects, Supervisors said they wanted to get started in order to improve roads as soon as possible for county residents.

"These are high-priority projects," Waters said. "We need to be prepared to go and do it until these proffer funds are recognized by the county."

THE BOARD SPLIT the motion, choosing to vote on forwarding the construction of the Route 7 and Loudoun County Parkway interchange separately from the design projects.

While both portions of the separated motion passed 5-2-2, with Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) and Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles) absent for the vote, there was some opposition to both sides of the proposed package.

Staton, who voted for the construction project, but against the project’s designs said he did not think allotting money for design only would be productive since the county would not be getting anything tangible from it.

"My position has been consistent the entire time," he said. "We are new, we haven't done this before. If you are new, you want to start out with one project and get your feet under you and prove that you can do it."

Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac), however, voted for the projects' design and against the construction of the interchange, stating he believed that there needed to be some prioritizing of projects by the board.

"There is no way that this county is going to be able to afford [every project]," he said. "That $12.5 [million] will tell you just how much you can afford. I don't think we should leave this dais until we prioritize these projects."

Assistant County Administrator Terrie L. Laycock warned the board that if they moved forward with designing the road projects that the county's designs would not be qualified for federal funding.

"If you don't have funds to build them, you might want to think about how many you really want to get designed because there is not a really long shelf life for these designs," she said.

AT MONDAYS MEETING, two Supervisors continued to oppose the bond package as it was laid out.

Snow said he did not believe that enough analysis had gone into the package, stating that a presentation on road bonds from Prince William County showed a need for detailed studies.

"It appears to me that we haven't done any of this and yet we are ready to run headlong into taxing our taxpayers for roads," he said.

Snow also added that he wanted to see some data on how allocating money for roads would affect other county services and residents.

"I think that is fair analysis," he said. "This is a rush to judgment. Right now it tells me we can't have our cake and eat it too. We can't have our 89 cent [tax rate] or 90 or 91 and have all these roads, too."

Supervisors Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) told Snow that some analysis had been done by VDOT and the data showed the best thing to improve traffic around Purcellville would be the Route 7 and Route 690 interchange.

"I think we all are a little bit nervous of starting down this road, but it appears that the time has come," Burton said. "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step."

Snow left the meeting before the vote and did not return.

Only Supervisor Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) was against funding both road projects' design and construction with county money, a position she has held since the budget debates in March.

"I think this probably will go to voters, but it is not something that I can support," she said on Monday. "It is just very difficult for me to ask citizens of my district to pay property tax for something that is a state responsibility."