More information on the Outer Beltway

The Outer Beltway is a proposed highway encircling the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C. Various components return to the forefront every few years.  Back in 2013-2014, there was a big push for the BiCounty Parkway in Virginia, but the project was stopped due to concern over the impact to Manassas National Battlefield, the Prince William Rural Crescent, the Loudoun County Transition Area and neighborhoods in Loudoun. CSG and partners also offered a set of more effective alternatives.  This project remains on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Transaction Plan.

Other Names

The Outer Beltway is being advanced in various component bits and pieces in Loudoun and Prince William Counties. In different places, it’s been called the Tri-County Parkway, the Bi-County Parkway, the North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance, the Battlefield Bypass, and Northstar Boulevard.

Bisecting Manassas Battlefield and Spurring Sprawl

The Virginia sections of the highway currently under consideration make up a north-south corridor from just east of Leesburg, skirting Manassas National Battlefield, to Woodbridge or other points south. Besides impacting Manassas National Battlefield, the proposed route opens over 100,000 acres of the Rural Crescent in Prince William and Transition Area in Loudoun to costly sprawl-style development, which would hurt the environment and put additional stress on already overburdened east-west roads like I-66 and Route 50 as commuters travel to jobs.

Dulles Airport and Freight Needs

VDOT’s main public rationale for the Outer Beltway is a purported need for expanded cargo shipping capabilities around Dulles Airport. But cargo shipped at Dulles today is just .1% by volume and .2% by value of all freight shipping in Northern Virginia.

Harmful Impacts

The Outer Beltway doesn’t add up for many reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Doesn’t address congestion. The north-south route doesn’t address our overwhelmingly east-west traffic needs in Loudoun and western Prince William.
  • Opens the door to more sprawl, noise pollution, and air pollution. If built, the Outer Beltway would open over 100,000 acres of the Rural Crescent in Prince William and Transition Area in Loudoun to accelerated, costly sprawl-style development.
  • Costs too much. The Outer Beltway would cost at least $1 billion, according to VDOT’s own estimates. That figure is before newly proposed associated connector roads to the west side of Dulles Airport, which could cost another $500 million or more.


Outer Beltway In the News

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Fighting Against the Outer Beltway

Together with our partners, the Coalition for Smarter Growth has been fighting against the Outer Beltway since our founding in 1997. Through grassroots efforts with our supporters in Virginia and policy work by our staff, we’re on constant watch for new attempts to build this “zombie highway”.

Our actions have included testimony, meetings with officials, critiques of VDOT’s studies, development of an alternative set of transportation solutions, briefing communities in Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax, and participating in negotiations related to protection of Manassas National Battlefield., in addition to the action alerts sent to our members and of course the Petition!

Additional Information:

Our Alternative

Our Coalition report question's VDOT analysis and details our alternative
Our Coalition report questions VDOT’s  analysis and details a better alternative (click to read)

Our proposal, detailed in the report Rethinking the Bi-County Parkway, focuses on fixing east-west routes for commuters, it provides lower impact local road fixes and connections to help local residents, it preserves the Rural Crescent and Transition Area, and could allow for the roads to be closed through the Battlefield (although it’s not clear that would ultimately be necessary, due to the reduced traffic that would result from implementing the alternatives we’ve suggested).

It would meet the goals of the 1988 legislation while rejecting VDOT’s proposed highway. It would improve passenger access to Dulles with the completion of upgrades to Route 28 from I-66 north, improvements to the I-66 corridor, and upgrades to the Route 234/Route 28 connection and Route 28 on the east side of the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. The composite set of connections is designed to improve traffic movement throughout the area, benefitting more travelers and trip types than would the single large north-south highway proposal.

Get involved: Sign the Petition

We need your help! Please sign our petition calling on Governor McDonnell and Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton to protect Manassas Battlefield and stop this unneeded and fiscally irresponsible highway.

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Outer Beltway Maps