The Rural Summit – To Be or Not To Be?

On Friday, November 16, 2018. Loudoun County Chair Phyliss Randall will be conducting an all-day event billed as the Rural Summit at the Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg – the first rural summit since taking office January 1, 2016 with the new Board.

But this summit is not sitting well with the “Western” Supervisors Geary Higgins (Catoctin District) and Tony Buffington (Blue Ridge District).

“In the past two terms, my office in conjunction with the Blue Ridge office has sponsored three rural summits, and at each one of those summits we invited the chair or chairwoman to participate and speak at those rural summits,” Higgins said.

Higgins goes on to state that he was concerned that he and Buffington were invited to attend, but not participate. And, he pointed out, the person emceeing the event, Tia Walbridge, has declared she will run against Buffington in the 2019 election. NOTE: (After creation of this story, Ms. Walbridge announced her decision not to attend the event)

“It does appear, unfortunately, to have become a political event, and I think it’s unfortunate, because we’re missing a real opportunity where we could have made progress on some of these issues in western Loudoun County,” Buffington said.

The Rural Summit is also being organized using Randall’s office budget, which Higgins said may be an ethics violation.

So, what is actually happening here?  Is it petty whining by the Western Supervisors, who have not held any rural summits this term?  Will Supervisors Higgins and Buffington be taking some decisive action or are they merely going to continue to criticize others who are trying to get something done?  How can they both criticize Chair Randall without putting forward an alternative proposal for the Rural Summit?  Is this just another example of local resistance by two supervisors who are just not equipped to conduct county business in a timely manner because of the demands of their outside employment which is hindering their ability to represent their rural constituents?

It seems to us that maybe Chair Randall is tired of waiting for Supervisor Higgins to take action on the myriad of projects he seems to start but never follow up on. Whether you agree with the summit or not at least Randall is making an effort to do “something” for her constituents unlike Higgins who has let the Route 15 project drag on and on with no BEGINNING in sight. 5 months after funding approval and STILL no project plan from his office, yet he seems to have plenty of time to play political games with other supervisors who have been supportive of 15 improvements!

The Rural Summit will be addressing schools and transportation – in addition to the property rights of the farming community.  Why are these two supervisors not dealing with these pressing issues on their own rather than casting stones at Chair Randall who has initiated this summit?

Make no mistake, the continued delay of the start of the Route 15 widening project is a calculated decision by Supervisor Higgins who believes that if he delays long enough the community will forget about the whole thing and he can blame outside forces for losing the NVTA money which will be reallocated to other projects if not utilized here. It seems other Supervisors have finally caught on to his game and are taking matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, only Supervisor Higgins can move Route 15 improvements forward by producing a project plan. We urge you to contact his office and demand that he do so immediately.

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County Transportation Infrastructure Improvements

Infrastructure improvements require planning, budgeting, execution, timeliness, and leadership.

Planning is the process of spending limited financial resources over time based on priorities and with an eye to the future of our county. So far, the Route 15 widening project has had 18 months of planning and 20+ years of studies. Yet according to Supervisor Higgins, it is not yet time to ask County Staff to put together a project plan to move the work forward. He is still stuck in “community outreach” mode.

Budgeting is the process of allocating those limited resources towards projects that “leadership” views as a priority for our county. By continuing to drag his feet on moving the project forward, Supervisor Higgins is risking the NVTA reallocating funds currently designated to Route 15 towards other projects with more concrete plans and timelines. If our project is not moved forward, the money will find a project that IS ready. This has been part of the special interests’ game plan for years – prevent money being allocated by demanding continuous studies.

Executing is the process of aligning the plan and the budget to acquire, expand and enhance an infrastructure project. We have the money. We have approval from the Board of Supervisors. The only thing we don’t have at this point, is execution on the part of Supervisor Higgins to move the project on to the execution phase.

Timeliness is having a “sense of urgency” to address a rapidly deteriorating situation. We at FixRoute15Now.com do not expect to have bulldozers on the road just weeks after project green lighting. However, after NVTA funding was approved in June, a Supervisor with a sense of urgency would have been moving forward with creating a robust project plan in anticipation of the project being approved. Such a Supervisor would most certainly have such a plan ready at the next Stakeholders meeting on October 22. We shall see if Supervisor Higgins has such a sense of urgency or if he just wants to continue to talk while accomplishing nothing.

Leadership is having the courage to stand up for what is right and saying “NO MORE” to the special interest no growth groups who have blocked and delayed safety improvements along Route 15 for decades.  Failing to protect our residents, families, and children by continuing to have “public input sessions” or by considering deferring this project back to the Transportation and Land Use Committee (TLUC), as Supervisor Higgins has recently suggested, is not “leadership” – it is just an excuse to avoid making hard decisions.

We urge anyone who desires Route 15 to be fixed to contact Supervisor Higgins and demand that he move this project forward. Demand that he instruct County Staff to create a project plan with an expedited timeline. NOT 10 YEARS!! Do not think that this project is a done deal or relax your vigilance. The special interests are not stopping their campaign, and neither should we. Keep in mind that by doing nothing and continuing to play public perception games rather than moving forward to design and execution, Supervisor Higgins is risking losing the funding for the project.

 

FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!!

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UNANIMOUS APPROVAL!!!

Tonight the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved by unanimous vote the staff recommendation to widen Route 15 from a 2 lane road to a 4 lane road. More details to follow on this historic precedent to finally address the treacherous unsafe conditions and horrendous congestion our fellow residents and school children have endured for decades.

None of this would have been possible without the massive support shown by the community at large. Thank you!!! Rest assured we will be here every step of the way through design and construction to continue providing hard hitting fact based reporting, holding our elected representatives accountable, and pushing for a speedy completion of this long overdue project.

FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!!

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Response to Loudoun Now Article

It used to be that the job of the press was to not only report the news but to investigate stories, learn the facts, and, when necessary, fact check quoted sources. In his recent article in Loudoun Now, Mr. Renss Greene made the statement that:

 “Fix Route 15 Now has argued that the process to widen Rt. 15 is taking too long, and has pushed to accelerate it. The organization has sent out regular email newsletters advocating a faster process and construction of roundabouts along the route.”

He did get the first few things correct here. We do think the process has taken too long. We do think that a 10-year timeline is outrageous. We do, in fact, generally agree with what the county is proposing but it should be fairly obvious that we do NOT advocate for the construction of roundabouts on Route 15. We hope this is a typo that will be corrected soon.

Meanwhile, it seems that the Catoctin Coalition, a special interest group which as WE reported on this site, was founded specifically to oppose widening Route 15, has splintered yet again into ANOTHER organization opposed to improvements which is of course, although they put Mr. Adams in as a figurehead, led behind the scenes by the same person now in charge of the original group and consists of the same members. Once again, an attempt to deceive the public about the amount of true support their anti-Route 15 agenda has. We do find it rather ironic that the same people attacking our group for remaining anonymous have forced their own members to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Why is it that despite being interviewed by Loudoun Now for basically every article about Route 15, Ms. Polkey is never asked to justify her group’s stance that single lane roundabouts and no widening is a solution to the safety and congestion problem on Route 15 even though ALL evidence says otherwise?  Why wasn’t she asked this time why one anti-route 15 group needed to form another anti-route 15 group? Evidently nobody at Loudoun Now looked into the proposal supposedly submitted by Mr. Lockwood. This did not actually happen. Because they were only able to raise $200 out of the $20,000 needed to hire Mr. Lockwood, the special interest groups merely combined a bunch of his old PowerPoint presentations he gives to various groups around the country into a giant file and sent it to the Board themselves. Of the more than 110 pages they submitted, only a handful have anything to do with Route 15 and none of those address with actual data how the 26,000+ vehicles on Route 15 would be handled. We discovered this with a cursory Google search of Mr. Lockwood’s prior engagements. Again, this is the type of reporting that used to be done by the press looking for the truth.

We also want to make clear that our non-response to this article was due to the fact that we were given mere hours to respond to an email before publishing and we all have our own jobs and families to focus on. We would be happy to answer any questions Loudoun Now may have via email.

-Fix Route 15 Now Team

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Road Collapse on Stumptown Rd

This will definitely affect traffic in our area. We know many people use Stumptown Rd as a cut-through to avoid the crippling traffic on Route 15. Hopefully this doesn’t take as long to fix as its taking to address Route 15. Visit our “Get Involved” page to learn how to push our elected officials to make real changes in this corridor.

Officials investigating a bridge collapse in Loudoun County, as heavy storms throughout the area led to damage and flooding, as well as road closures throughout the area.

 

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