Tag: manassas battlefield

Update on The Bi-County Parkway: A Chance to “Take a Second Look”

During his campaign, Governor McAuliffe said he would take a hard-look at the controversial $440 million Bi-County Parkway, reevaluating this project and others proposed by VDOT. In his campaign platform, under the section titled “Pick the right projects; build the best ones,” he stated:

Will Terry McCauliffe Sign Off on a Notorious Sprawl Project in NoVa?

With Terry McAuliffe about to move in to the Virginia governor’s mansion, it’s unclear what will become of one of the state’s most contested transportation proposals — the Bi-County Parkway, a $440 million highway in the outer D.C. suburbs.

Though it seems likely the current administration of Republican Governor Bob McDonnell will make a forceful push to get approvals sealed before the end of the year, the timeline is tight. Then there’s the big question of how McAuliffe, a Democrat, will manage the controversial proposal.

As planned, the four-lane divided highway would run 10.4 miles north-south between Route 50 and Route 66, two notoriously clogged commuter roads into D.C.

Critics of the Bi-County Parkway — who have been varied and outspoken — warn that the new highway would do little to ease congestion, and would in fact create even more traffic in this mixed region of farmland, cul-de-sacs, and Civil War landmarks. Smart growth advocates see the developers salivating over the project and predict that the road will simply perpetuate the trend of isolating housing from jobs.

“From what we see, all it’s going to encourage is more residential development in an area that lacks sufficient infrastructure,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “It’s putting more cars on top of the funnel.”

The proposal is at a critical juncture now, with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) aiming to submit a final environmental impact statement to the feds by the end of the year — before McDonnell leaves.

McDonnell has aggressively pushed the Bi-County Parkway, even going so far as to hire a public relations firm to pitch the project.

“He has fast-tracked the planning and approvals and all that,” said James Bacon of Bacon’s Rebellion, a Virginia public policy blog. “He clearly made it a priority.”

And though several aspects of the project are still tied up in negotiation — particularly due to the government shutdown — many believe McDonnell will make an all-out effort to get Federal Highway Administration sign-off before 2014.

“The McDonnell Administration is flooring the gas pedal… hoping to get final approval before their time runs out,” wrote Morgan Butler, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, in an email. “The administration has downplayed (or ignored outright) major community and environmental impacts and given short shrift to alternatives, as they try to get their pet projects to a point of no return before they leave office.”

A study published by SELC and other smart growth and environmental groups this summer, “Rethinking the Bi-County Parkway,” argues that the project won’t help the region’s biggest transportation problem — east-west travel — and will undermine preservation goals for Manassas National Battlefield Park. Instead of the highway, the report recommends transit improvements like extensions for Metro and VRE and an express bus on Route 50. VDOT has not formally analyzed any of those other options.

Critics of the Bi-County Parkway have also worried the project will help resurrect old plans for other roads, like a 45-mile “north-south corridor of significance,” and even a larger “Outer Beltway,” which VDOT has denied.

VDOT’s pitch is that the new highway will ease congestion by increasing connectivity between Loudon and Prince William counties and replacing a route through the battlefield park. Supporters have also said the highway will spur more air cargo activity at Dulles Airport, though a researcher at George Mason University disputed that claim.

So far there’s no definitive indication of how the next administration will deal with the Bi-County Parkway. When the topic came up during election debates, McAuliffe avoided taking a firm stand, saying he needed more facts. McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, was more forthright in opposing the proposal, though he expressed support for some type of north-south connector.

For some voters, the issue was enough to bring them over to the “Democrats for Cuccinelli” camp, said Charlie Grymes, chair of the Prince William Conservation Alliance. Even more interesting, he said, was the way it forced some Virginia delegates to mark their positions. Bacon’s Rebellion also noted the unusual camaraderie the issue forged between populist conservatives and liberal smart-growth advocates.

While Cuccinelli’s stance stemmed from his fiscal conservatism, McAuliffe has made it clear that he intends to pour big bucks into transportation. As Politico notes, his campaign played up his support for Virginia’s new law to raise $1.4 billion for infrastructure through increased sales taxes and other fees.

To Bacon, that may make McAuliffe more inclined to support wasteful projects like the Bi-County Parkway.

But The Washington Post also notes that McAuliffe’s platform highlighted “elements that appeal to advocates of livable, walkable communities.”

Schwartz sees the new administration as a fresh opportunity to examine alternatives. With McAuliffe “walking into a transportation agency which enjoys significantly higher levels of funding,” he said, it’s going to be “incumbent to look at how we can spend funds more wisely.”

Also critical will be McAuliffe’s decisions about transportation leadership. Many view the Bi-County Parkway as a pet project of Sean Connaughton, the current transportation secretary.

“Once he’s gone, the project’s going to lose a big backer,” said Bacon. “On the other hand, the political constellation around it won’t disappear.”

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Fight Over Virginia Transportation Priorities Takes on New Importance

The Commonwealth Transportation Board, Virginia’s decision-making panel on roads, rails and other mobility efforts, is ready to spend money. Now that the governor and General Assembly have given the board more revenue to work with, a lull that set in over the past few years may yield to a more active phase of transportation projects.

Many Northern Virginians are aware of this changing dynamic, so they came to a public meeting sponsored by the board Tuesday night in Fairfax County to argue for or against particular projects. The most frequently mentioned were the rebuilding of the interchange at Interstate 66 and Route 28 — everybody’s for that one — and the proposed Bi-County Parkway, which has generated strong opposition in the neighborhood bordering the north-south corridor on the western edge of the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

The broader issues at play emerged when two people spoke: Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Bob Chase of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.

Schwartz urged the transportation officials to pursue a “fix it first” strategy in setting priorities. Rather than focusing new spending on expansion of the roads network, rebuild the deteriorating parts of the existing system to make it easier for people to get around.

Schwartz doesn’t equate road building with congestion relief, which puts him at odds with many of the people who supported Virginia’s new transportation revenue law. New lanes, he said, “can generate more traffic than you relieve.”

Land use policy that focus development near transit “is a regional traffic solution” and does a lot more to address congestion than new lanes, Schwartz said. This may be the way of the future as empty-nesters who no longer need their big houses but want to stay in Northern Virginia seek new housing positioned to let them stay mobile as they age.

Schwartz opposes the Bi-County Parkway as, among many other things, a traffic-inducer. But it’s an unfair shorthand to characterize him as anti-road. Of the plan to rebuild the I-66/Route 28 interchange, he said, “We agree it should be fully funded.” But planners deciding how to ease the awful congestion all along the I-66 corridor need to address the public’s desire for better transit service, Schwartz added.

He also noted that Virginia state officials who are contemplating the new transportation revenue need to get interested in Metro’s long range plan, called “Momentum,” to expand the transit system’s capacity, including the purchase of enough rail cars to make all trains eight-cars long.

The shorthand for Chase would have him be the road-building guy, but that’s also unfair. Chase backs construction of Metro’s Silver Line. Key elements in his vision are that transportation projects can solve congestion problems, but we need to think big, and the projects selected need to have regional impact.

Chase praised state leaders for approving new transportation revenue that can refill budgets for maintenance and construction. “After many years, we finally are talking about additions, rather than subtractions,” he said.

In this new environment, Chase said, a “big picture perspective is more important than ever.” Planners must target “regionally significant transportation investments that will reduce congestion,” and he looks to the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the Virginia Department of Transportation to provide the leadership that will support such projects, including the Bi-County Parkway. People who say they don’t want a parkway in their yard have a right to oppose it, he said, but to say that the region doesn’t need a north-south route in that area isn’t factual. The state must base it’s decisions on regional needs, Chase said.

Chase and Schwartz have been fighting it out along this line for years. The key difference in 2013 is that they’re now talking to officials who have money to spend.

Photo courtesy of  Karen Bleier. Click here to read the original story.

Bi-County Parkway debate fueled by research from both sides

One of our regular readers brought to our attention an issue that we haven’t been covering: Northern Virginia’s proposed Bi-County Parkway. The parkway would connect Prince William and Loudoun counties, but it has sparked an impassioned debate about our region’s growth trends.

outter beltwayOn the one side, the Coalition for Smarter Growth has done research that says that the parkway would create more sprawl, congestion, and traffic. CSG released the findings of a study on the subject last week and proposed a “common-sense, comprehensive alternative.” (CSG, 7/17)

On the other side, the 2030 Group – led by developer Bob Buchanan – commissioned a report from GMU’s Stephen Fuller which determined that our region’s continued growth will include a big increase in car use. The group is using this finding to support their push for the parkway. (WaPo, 7/21)

Here’s more context for the debate – the Washington Post’s coverage since September 2012. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comment section. What are the pros and cons? (The good and the bad, not the professionals and convicts.)

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Bi-County Parkway in Virginia will add congestion, groups argue

A coalition of groups critical of the proposed Bi-County Parkway has released a report it says bolsters its case that the roadway could worsen traffic congestion in Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Norman L. Marshall, president of Smart Mobility, which conducted the analysis using data from the Virginia Department of Transportation, said the north-south roadway would create new bottlenecks.

“Building the [Bi-County Parkway] would generate more overall traffic — and more north-south travel — in the study area than would be the case if the [Bi-County Parkway] is not built,” the report said.

The study, released last week, is the latest in the back-and-forth battle over the proposed parkway, which would provide a north-south connection between Loudoun and Prince William counties. Supporters of the roadway say it is needed to accommodate future population growth and promote economic development.

“We’re not just talking about the present, we’re talking about the future,” said Bob Chase, head of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, which backs the road. “The best way to ensure that more people in this region have shorter commutes is to provide more jobs closer to where people live and have a grid that gives them a chance to move north, south, east and west.”

But opponents argue that state officials need to focus on improving existing roadways — particularly east-west connections, such as Interstate 66 — before investing in new roads.

“We believe that their case just doesn’t hold up, from speculative cargo claims, to congestion, to impact on the historic resource and Rural Crescent, to their failure to invest in the many critical projects residents and commuters need today,’’ said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, one of the groups that commissioned the $12,000 study.

In a conference call with reporters, leaders of those groups said Marshall’s analysis found that a package of alternative roadway improvements they have proposed would do more to relieve congestion and preserve the historic Manassas Civil War battlefield than the Bi-County Parkway.

The coalition’s plan “addresses a broader set of goals and better protects a historic resource,” Schwartz said.

The Piedmont Environmental Council, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Parks Conservation Association also sponsored the study.

Earlier this year, VDOT conducted its own analysis of the proposed parkway and the list of projects proposed by the coalition. That study showed that if the parkway is built, traffic at many key points along the north-south route would improve.

VDOT’s “thorough” analysis indicates that the Bi-County Parkway is needed, said Tom Fahrney, the department’s project director for the parkway. The study recognizes that traditional commuting patterns have changed in Northern Virginia, he said.

“The jobs are starting to be located outside of the Beltway, and there’s a need for facilities like the Bi-County Parkway to get folks from Prince William to Loudoun,” Fahrney said. “If this road is not implemented, rural roads that are not safe will carry much more traffic than they are today, and we’ll have congestion and safety problems.”

Virginia transportation officials said the coalition’s study assumed that less development would take place in the area — a major difference between the two reports.

VDOT’s study also looked at the project alternatives proposed by the advocacy groups. Transportation officials said those proposals, which include improvements to the Route 28 and I-66 interchange, building interchanges on the Route 234 Bypass south of I-66 and extending Metrorail service from Vienna to Centreville, would cost more than $6 billion and take decades to complete. Coalition groups argue that VDOT’s analysis is misleading because their approach is far more comprehensive.

The coalition’s report comes at a time when some senior elected officials, including Del. Tim Hugo (R-Centreville) and Rep. Frank Wolf (D-Va.), say additional study is needed before the project moves forward.

In June, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, a state body, voted to advance plans tobuild the parkway. But an additional agreement in principle to build the road must be signed by VDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the state Historic Resources Department and the National Park Service before the project can more forward. State transportation officials hope that will be completed by this fall.

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Public Gets First Input On Transportation Bill Projects

nvtaMembers of the public from Loudoun, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties got their first chance to speak to the full board of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Thursday night in a public hearing discussing the projects that could receive funding from the General Assembly’s transportation bill that passed earlier this year.

Twenty-two people, including legislators, representatives of local advocacy groups and individuals giving their opinions, went before the board, and dozens more reviewed the almost 50 projects the NVTA is considering. The NVTA’s priority is finalizing a list of projects that will receive funding for FY14, when there is expected to be $190 million available.

NVTA Chairman Martin Nohe, the Coles District Supervisor in Prince William County, gave a 30-minute presentation before anyone spoke, explaining what the NVTA is and how board members plan to implement the funding. $1.6 billion is expect to come to Northern Virginia over the next six years from HB2313, 70 percent of which will be dispersed by the NVTA and 30 percent going directly to each locality: the four counties and the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, Falls Church and Alexandria.

The money is intended, essentially, to relieve the high levels of congestion that have plagued the area for years, and only figure to get worse. The main bone of contention among those who spoke was the best way to go about doing that.

“There’s a lack of quantitative information right now to evaluate projects with different modes and different types,” Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67) who was the first to speak, said. “For every million dollars we spend, how many hours are we putting back into the lives of Northern Virginians? We need to know that.”

Residents in Prince William and Loudoun counties almost unanimously applauded the NVTA’s to fund the widening of several segments of Rt. 28 in Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William counties.

The projects proposed for FY14 funding are “hot spot” improvements between Sterling Boulevard and the Dulles Toll Road in Loudoun, expanding from two lanes to a four-lane divided roadway from Linton Hall to Fitzwater Drive in Prince William, and widening from three to four lanes southbound between the Dulles Toll Road and Rt. 50 and northbound from McLearen Road to the Dulles Toll Road in Fairfax County.

“I’m here to commend your decision to include the Rt. 28 hot spot improvements,” Jeff Fairfield, speaking on behalf of the Rt. 28 Tax District Landowners Advisory Board, said. “These improvements will alleviate congestion. There’s been a tremendous improvement on removing traffic lights, yet we now experience congestion due to a lack of lane capacity.”

“Rt. 28 relief is needed now,” Gary O’Brien of Manassas said. “There are currently several disconnected projects. What it needs is more transportation capacity, right through the system. Try to consolidate the little plans into a larger system.”

Arlington County Supervisor Chris Zimmerman, the chairman of the Project Implementation working group, said the list of projects proposed for funding was built from existing transportation plans, such as the NVTA’s TransAction 2040, and are closest to “shovel-ready.”

“Our aim has been to, No. 1, follow the law” Zimmerman said. “We began by reviewing what the statutes require of us. In developing criteria, that was first and foremost. It has been our intention to use objective criteria and quantifiable criteria to the greatest degree possible. That is what we have been trying to accomplish.

“Many of the projects, by their nature, will take multiple years to do and have multiple parts. It’s a very complex network; there isn’t a silver bullet. It will take a lot of fixing in different places.”

Many Prince William County residents spoke against potential funding of the Bi-County Parkway, a controversial transportation project stretching from I-95 to Rt. 50 in Loudoun, but the project is not among those included for FY14 funding or on the Six-Year Plan.

Perhaps the most scrutinized debate will be how many funds are devoted to transit projects, pedestrian or bicycle projects, and how much will simply be devoted to increasing capacity on the roads network.

“In a great metropolitan area, you cannot ‘get the red out,’” Stewart Schwartz, the executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said about relieving intense traffic jams. “We have to account for induced traffic. For the peak-hour commute, there’s nothing better than high-capacity transit. I urge you to resist a return to the old approach, which didn’t work, and focused on a transit-oriented, walkable bikeable future that we need to have.”

The NVTA will hold another public hearing July 24 before deciding upon the final FY14 list at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, at Fairfax City Hall. The public comment period before the Project Implementation’s next working group will close next week. The form, and submittal information, can be found here.

Photo courtesy of Leesburg Today.

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VDOT to increase spending on deficient bridges

richmond

VDOT will spend nearly $2.3 billion to upgrade the state’s bridges over the next six years.

“We’re going to spend $564 million in additional state money on bridge reconstruction and rehabilitation,” said state Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton. “This isn’t just about infrastructure. This is about ensuring the public safety.”

The goal is to make sure the percentage of structurally deficient bridges remains less than 8 percent of the state’s nearly 21,000 bridges and culverts.

“There’s a large backlog of bridge maintenance projects that we’re now going to be able to get to,” Connaughton said at the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting Wednesday in Richmond.

This year, 7.5 percent of Virginia bridges were rated structurally deficient, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.

Nationally, 11 percent of 607,000 road bridges were considered in poor repair, according to figures from the Federal Highway Administration. The average U.S. bridge is 42 years old.

VDOT says that bridges slated to be replaced as structurally deficient in the Richmond region include those carrying Interstate 64 over Airport Drive in Henrico County, Interstate 195 over the Powhite Parkway in Richmond, U.S. 1 over railroad tracks at Bellwood in Chesterfield County, and state Route 13 over Sallee Creek in Powhatan County.

The funds for accelerated bridge work are part of the state’s $17.6 billion allocation for transportation programs for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and continues through the fiscal year that ends June 2019.

The six-year transportation program, including new funding sources for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, is $6.2 billion larger than last year’s approved plan, a 54 percent increase. The state Transportation Board approved the new six-year program Wednesday.

The funding increase largely springs from revenue the General Assembly provided this year, the first significant infusion of money into the state’s cash-strapped transportation system since 1986.

Not everyone was pleased with the spending plan.

“This program will be remembered for squandering billions of tax dollars while making Virginia’s patterns of development less efficient, more oil dependent and less competitive,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

The plan includes a number of “wasteful mega-projects that have been strongly criticized as unnecessary,” Schwartz said, citing $1.4 billion for the new U.S. 460; $244 million for the Charlottesville Bypass project; the $1 billion-plus North-South Corridor highway in Northern Virginia; and the $2.8 billion Coalfields Expressway in Southwest Virginia.

“We are shocked by the lack of discussion of the spending priorities in the six-year plan, by the failure to tie the program to specific policy goals, and the assumption that simply adding road capacity will solve our transportation problems,” Schwartz said.

The May 23 collapse of an Interstate 5 bridge in Mount Vernon, Wash., has drawn national attention on the issue of bridge safety. In the I-5 incident, a 160-foot span of the four-lane bridge collapsed into the Skagit River after a tractor-trailer with an oversized semitrailer struck the span’s overhead truss structure.

To eliminate the nation’s deficient bridge backlog by 2028, the U.S. needs to invest $20.5 billion annually, though only $12.8 billion is being spent currently, the American Society of Civil Engineers said in its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, being classified as structurally deficient does not mean a bridge is unsafe.

If a Virginia bridge’s structural rating sinks too low, state highway officials post a lower weight limit on it and increase its frequency of inspections. In the worst case, VDOT closes bridges in poor condition.

Photo courtesy of P. Kevin Morley.

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Va. transportation board approves study that includes Bi-County Parkway

RICHMOND — A state transportation board Wednesday advanced plans for a controversial project to build a parkway connecting Prince William and Loudoun counties.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board, in a 15 to 1 vote, endorsed a master-plan study that looked at potential improvements along the state’s North-South Corridor, a 45-mile route connecting the two Northern Virginia counties.

The vote was denounced by opponents of the Bi-County Parkway, who said board’s decision is a sign that the state is moving forward with the 10-mile road, which would skirt Civil War sites to connect I-66 in Prince William with Route 50 in Loudoun.

Board member W. Sheppard Miller III, of Virginia Beach, voted against moving forward, saying the board’s resolution did not adequately rule out toll roads, which he opposes.

A total of 15 people appeared before the board to comment, and several of them urged Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials to delay the adoption of the corridor study, saying that the state has not been transparent about its plans.

“This impacts tens of thousands who are unaware,” said Tom Thompson, who lives near the site of the proposed parkway.

Gary Garczynski, who lives in Woodbridge and represents the board’s Northern Virginia district, said the vote was a small step in a years-long process for the parkway.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion, and I regret to say that a lot of people think it is,” Garczynski said. “From my perspective, that’s just not true. We have a long way to go.”

The North-South corridor is one of 12 designated regions in which state transportation funding priorities are established. The improvements, including the Bi-County Parkway, are designed to improve traffic flow, spur economic development and provide better access to Dulles International Airport, supporters say.

Del. Timothy D. Hugo, a Republican Party leader who represents parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties, was among those who attended the meeting to object to the proposed road.

The board has “created a firestorm. . . . The rationale provided by VDOT [for the parkway] changes every time,” Hugo said. “These people deserve a straight answer.”

Residents say they worry about increased traffic and the fact that the parkway would run through a protected rural area with a rich Civil War history.

The board’s vote Wednesday came after a month’s delay. Concerns were raised by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who wrote a letter to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), to say that the state’s process lacked transparency and that more public input was needed. Six Republican state legislators, led by Hugo, have announced that they oppose the road and the state’s handling of the process.

Stewart Schwartz, president of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, has questioned whether a plan for north-south improvements is necessary.

“You started with a conclusion and went backwards,” he said of the adopted study. ““We will look back and realize that we have gained no ground and squandered billions.”

STATEMENT: Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board Approval of $17.6 Billion Six-Year Capital Spending Program: A Road to Ruin?

Statement on Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board Approval of $17.6 Billion Six-Year Capital Spending Program

A Road to Ruin?

Today with no debate, the appointed Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the largest transportation spending program in Virginia history, $17.6 billion in capital spending.

“We are shocked by the lack of discussion of the spending priorities in the Six-Year Plan, by the failure to tie the program to specific policy goals, and the assumption that simply adding road capacity will solve our transportation problems.  The plan includes a number of wasteful mega-projects that have been strongly criticized as unnecessary including Route 460 ($1.4 billion), the Coalfields Expressway ($2.8 billion), Charlottesville Bypass ($244 million), N-S Corridor ($1 billion plus), and a long range $11.4 billion plan for I-81.

The CTB doesn’t understand the benefits of more efficient land use – of cities, towns, and compact transit-oriented development —  along with transportation demand management programs (carpooling, telecommuting, etc.) that reduce driving demand.  They don’t understand changing demographics and market demand that have led to big declines in vehicle miles traveled.  The plan includes just 9% of the total for transit even though 69% of the state population lives in the Urban Crescent.

In short, we believe this program will be remembered for squandering billions of tax dollars while making Virginia’s patterns of development less efficient, more oil dependent, and less competitive.”

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director

 

About the Coalition for Smarter Growth

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington D.C. region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies needed to make those communities flourish. To learn more, visit the Coalition’s website at www.smartergrowth.net.

 

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Preservation Virginia lists land slotted for Tri-County Parkway as ‘endangered’

Historic Civil War parkland slotted for a controversial new parkway that would connect the counties of Prince William and Loudoun has made the “endangered” list of one of the oldest non-profit preservation organizations in the country.

Preservation Virginia, founded in 1889, focuses on the preservation of historic sites around the state, including Jamestown and the Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach. For the first time, the group included land slated for the proposed Tri-County Parkway, a 10-mile, four-lane thoroughfare that would connect I-66 in Prince William with Route 50 in Loudoun, on its list of “most endangered” sites for 2013.

Part of the parkway, which has drawn increased scrutiny in recent weeks, would run through historic Manassas Battlefield land and rural Prince William.

“The Tri-County Parkway would run directly past the August 28, 1862 position of the right flank of Confederate troops led by Stonewall Jackson and the left flank of the Union General Pope’s troops, taking up to 20-35 acres of land from the national park and historic district,” the group said on its Web site.

“Opponents of the highway…believe that it would negatively impact the national park and historic district and predict that the parkway and connecting roads will open up rural land in Prince William … and Loudoun County.”

The group joins a chorus of preservation advocacy groups raising concerns about the project, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, Piedmont Environmental Council, Coalition for Smarter Growth, and Southern Environmental Law Center.

The administration of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the business community in Prince William and Loudoun believe the road is vital to the success of the fast-growing region. Supporters say the parkway — which could eventually connect farther east to Interstate 95 — would create jobs and drive economic development in the area, ease congestion and provide a key connection to Dulles International Airport and between two rapidly growing counties.

Elizabeth Kostelny, the executive director of Preservation Virginia, said that the organization is interested in the project in part because the National Park Service has pushed for assurance that if the parkway is built, Route 29 through the battlefield would be closed at Route 234 and a bypass around the park would be built.

“We’re not opposing it outright,” Kostelny said of the Tri-County Parkway. “We remain concerned about the traffic through the Manassas battlefield [and] having assurances those roads will be closed to commuter traffic.”

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently delayed a vote on Prince William’s state transportation priorities due to an outcry about the road. The parkway proposal has long had the support of both Prince William and Loudoun supervisors.

Prince William Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said in an interview that the board’s delay does not mean that supervisors plan to pull their support. He also said that despite setback and opposition, he believes the proposed parkway will move forward.

“I think they will be successful,” he said of the state’s plans for the road. “The reason is this … we have two of the fastest growing counties in the United States that do not have adequate connections to each other.”

Despite opposition in recent weeks — including from six state area Republican legislators and U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) — state officials say they plan to press forward and hope to explain their plans for the parkway more clearly and how it would benefit residents.

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