Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Outer Beltway through Stafford revived

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

MSNBC, The Washington Post and other media are reporting that Virginia has jump-started, without a public hearing, the highly controversial Outer Beltway, or Western Bypass (part of it is called the Tri-County Parkway), around Washington.

The proposed road would run north and south from Interstate 95 in Stafford County through Prince William County and the Manassas battlefield to State Route 7 in Loudoun County.

Historians and preservationists have long voiced concern about different variants of the highway and their effects on Manassas National Battlefield Park and its environs. Not all of the battlefield (there are two, actually, from 1861 and 1862) is in the national park, just as is true at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and other sites.

The highway, which has more lives than a cat, has been developers’ fondest dream for more than 20 years. Its proponents say it’s needed to reduce traffic congestion in western Prince William County and around Washington Dulles International Airport.

WRC aired this report.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth and other groups are fighting the plan approved yesterday afternoon by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, at the urging of Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, former chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

The CTB vote makes the route a “Corridor of Statewide Significance,” the state’s 12th–making it a top-priority project and, I’m told by its opponents, short-circuiting much of the usual public process over a new road proposal.

The coalition has posted this map of the route; caveat emptor.

On the other side, pro-road forces are also lining up in what could be a fierce and protracted fight.

Other news coverage:

Leesburg Today.

The Washington Examiner has this.

A Washington Post blogger posted this.