Does Supervisor Higgins Support Staff Recommendations and the Will of his Constituents?

Up for discussion and vote at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting are the concepts for Route 15 north of Montresor Road to the state line. You can find all of the information regarding these concepts in our Tuesday post but the main takeaway is that VDOT and county staff recommend “Concept B” as it provides the most safety and capacity improvements even as Supervisor Higgins purposely limited the amount of road that could be widened. A tipster sent us the latest newsletter from one of the no-growth groups which claims that at a recent community event, Higgins stated he will support Concept A.

These developments beg the questions:

  • Is Supervisor Higgins aligned with staff recommendations for Concept B?
  • What is so attractive about Concept A to Higgins?
  • Are there any pending campaign contributions hanging over his head based on today’s vote? (NOTE: Higgins is currently running for VA State Senate)
  • Why would Higgins purposely go against public opinion which overwhelmingly supports widening? (See executive summary here: https://www.loudoun.gov/DocumentCenter/View/153196/Route-15-Report-Executive-Summary-Report-April-2019, 72% surveyed want Route 15 widened north of Montresor Road. Also note the inconsistent response options that combine the bypass preference)

What should you do?

Call and email Supervisor Higgins’ office and tell him and his staff to support Concept B!

Call and email all of the other Supervisors and tell them to support Concept B!

Contact information located at: https://www.loudoun.gov/86/Board-of-Supervisors bos@loudoun.gov

Tell these elected officials to stand up for what the majority of citizens want and to FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!

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Why are these groups still allowed to influence decisions about needed infrastructure?

On August 1, 2017 Supervisor Geary Higgins championed the
creation of the Route 15 Stakeholders Committee, which was supposedly intended
to bring about true, meaningful improvements to the road between Leesburg and
Point of Rocks. Included in this committee of concerned residents were
representatives of several of the organizations we have highlighted in the past
– the Catoctin Coalition, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, and Lucketts
Ruritans among others. They all signed the below document promising to advocate
for project success and provide feedback from the organization and people they
represent.

http://fixroute15now.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Stakeholder-charter.pdf

As this stakeholder committee met and various public surveys
and traffic studies were done, two things became very obvious – widening the
road was the only way to handle the traffic volume currently on the road and
80% of the public was in favor of this widening. This is not what these representatives
have in mind for us so they decided to actively work against the committee and
in some cases attack it and Supervisor Higgins for what amounts to their own
failure to communicate to the people they supposedly represent.

Their response to being part of a tiny minority of people
wanting the road to stay the same as it is today was to form the Catoctin Route
15 Alliance in the Spring of 2018. Among other goals, the purpose of this new
organization was to prevent, “if necessary through legal action” any attempt to
4-lane any portion of the current Route 15 corridor. They were also so proud of
their work that they made all their members sign non-disclosure agreements
promising to not even disclose their objectives, membership, or operational
conduct. You can read their charter and list of members here:

http://fixroute15now.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Catoctin-Route-15-Alliance-NDAs.pdf

Fast forward to today. This group as well as its partner
organizations are still being allowed to influence county decision making by
submitting irrelevant and non-functional “suggestions” for Route 15
improvements. Two of these proposals are included in the package to be
evaluated during the July 18 Board meeting. No other outside organizations are
offered this luxury. Why? Why does Supervisor Higgins continue to waste the
time of the Board and the lives of the local citizens by delaying real
improvements in order to placate this small group of people who have already
stated their intentions to prevent any improvements?

Are you tired of your daily life being held hostage by this
small group of people? Are you tired of the needless death and destruction
caused by an unsafe road that is 300% over capacity? If so, please attend the
Board meeting on the 18th and let YOUR elected representatives know
that you’re fed up with what is going on. Support REAL improvements to Route 15
and

FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!!

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*** TRAFFIC ALERT **

Route 15 is closed… again. This time near White’s Ferry Road. This has happened during a relatively light traffic time considering many are on spring break. Should we have to deal with this road as-is for another 10 years? Maybe Supervisor Geary Higgins should provide a project plan to get this road fixed.

Fix Route 15 Now!

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Route 15 – Where Do Our Candidates Stand on Route 15?

Are you aware that Route 15 ranked as the single most congested and dangerous road in Loudoun County?  Do you realize that there have been over 100 accidents per year over the past 5 years on Route 15?  Are you tired of our local, state and Federal leaders ongoing failure to fix Route 15?  Are you tired of being ignored, wondering why it will take 10 years to widen only 3.5 miles of Route 15 or hearing the solution to fix Route 15 is to study the problem some more?  Many elected leaders and candidates neither have a position nor a plan.  You have an opportunity in the upcoming primaries and election this November to make a difference and support elected leaders that can determine the outcome of Route 15.  This is not about party affiliation, this is about basic services for you and your family.  Do you really think Route 15 should take 10 years to be fixed and that it needs to be studied some more?

Public offices, that touch the Route 15 corridor, that have elections this November, include:

Loudoun County Catoctin Supervisor 

Loudoun County Chair

Virginia State Delegate

Virginia State Senator

Our elected leaders need to be held accountable.  We will provide updates on where all the candidates stand on a regular basis.  Below is a list of candidates for each office.  Stay tuned for updates.

Fix Route 15 Now!

Loudoun County Catoctin Supervisor     

Forest Hayes (D)

Caleb Kershner (R)

(The Catoctin Supervisor has the greatest influence over the success of the Route 15 project by establishing the project tone and driving an accelerated timeline.  This office carries even more influence as the Virginia Department of Transportation has delegated the project management of Route 15 improvements to Loudoun County).

Loudoun County Chair

Phyllis Randall (D)

John Whitbeck (R)

Virginia State Delegate

Mavis Taintor (D)

Dave LaRock (R)

Virginia State Senator

John Bell (D)

Mike Buscher (R) – (Republican primary June 11th)

Geary Higgins (R) – (Republican primary June 11th)

Ron Meyer (R) – (Republican primary June 11th)

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Loudoun County at Risk of Losing $54M Route 15 Funds

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) approved funding of $54M last June 10, 2018 to widen 3.5 miles of Route 15 from Battlefield Parkway up to Montresor Road. At the public hearing on May 10, 2018 the opponents to the widening of Route 15 repeatedly advocated for “roundabouts” and NOT widening. This was the same hearing that Supervisor Geary Higgins did NOT attend to advocate for this project, the single- highest ranked road project of the 9 Loudoun County projects due to it’s heavy congestion and danger due to frequent accidents!

After having the funding for 10 months, there is still NO project plan for Route 15! The NVTA will revoke this funding and re-distribute it to one of the other regional members (i.e. Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Prince William city-counties) if there is not a project plan with significant progress on this road.

The special interest “no growthers” are counting on these Route 15 funds being revoked by NVTA.

Why does Chair Phyllis J. Randall and Supervisor Geary Higgins not present a Route 15 project plan and why did they abolish the Route 15 Stakeholder Committee?

Do Catoctin Lives NOT Matter?

What are your thoughts? Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment.

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*** Traffic Alert ***

Our no-growth friends always like to point out how amazing Gilbert’s Corner is at moving traffic. It’s kind of hard to move traffic around the inevitable accidents that will occur in these roundabouts.

Did you know?:
– Gilbert’s Corner used to be a 2 lane roundabout but VDOT changed the design due to the high volume of accidents
– No-growth groups think single lane roundabouts (or even double but with no widening) will fix problems on Route 15 north of Leesburg

While this accident is not on the stretch of Route 15 that we are always concerned with, just imagine all the trucks/trailers navigating “Roundabout Hell” that makes its way into so many proposals. Would you want to be next to a trailer like this going through a roundabout? We would hope not but Supervisor Geary Higgins wants to dictate to VDOT what kind of traffic control should be implemented along Route 15 North of Leesburg. This is if it even gets done within the next 10 years.

Maybe Supervisor Ron Meyer or Chair Phyllis J. Randall could help the Catoctin District get things done.

Fix Route 15 Now!

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Another Day, Another Accident

Another day, another Route 15 accident. This time a single vehicle with a utility pole. We are told to “look for alternate routes”, which way? Waterford? West Virginia? Beltway? Helicopter? Ferry (is it open?)?

Our government and elected officials owe us an efficient and safe roadway!

Let us know what you think on our Facebook page.

FINAL UPDATE: Route 15 is open in both directions after utility crews cleared downed utility pole after crash. Expect…

Posted by Loudoun County Sheriff's Office on Monday, January 7, 2019
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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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