Final Route 15 Stakeholders Committee Meeting

At the October 22, 2018 Route 15 Stakeholder Committee Meeting it was announced by Supervisor Geary Higgins that this would be the last Route 15 Stakeholder Committee meeting!  Mind you, not one piece of asphalt has been added to widen the Route 15 roadway.  It was announced that there may be a “task force” convened to oversee the Route 15 design.  It was not defined who or what expertise would be sought after.   Would this be a task force of “special interest no growthers”?  If so, than this process has been rigged with a pre-determined outcome!

Although some insight on what will occur in the next six months regarding surveying the 3.5 miles from Battlefield Parkway to Montresor Road, a project calendar still does not exist.

https://www.loudoun.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/8232

Does Geary Higgins have an intent to FIX Route 15 NOW?

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In other news:

Several statements were made and questions raised by the stakeholders, most notably the representative from the Catoctin Coalition stated that Supervisor Higgins reneged on his promise made at the July 16, 2018 Route 15 Stakeholder Meeting that his office would send out mailings to those homeowners of the then upcoming “public input” session on September 26, 2018.  Supervisor Higgins disagreed, his chief of staff stated that mailings were sent out regarding the session.  The Catoctin Coalition representative wanted proof and asked for the zip code mailings which would be made available.

The Catoctin Coalition representative had earlier made the declarative statement that the Little Springs homeowners along the section of road north of the King Street merge and between Tutt Lane were not included in the design of the road enhancements and modifications.  Supervisor Higgins pointed out that was not the case and in fact the 1 homeowner affected by the design was in attendance and was satisfied with the impact around his property.

The Catoctin Coalition representative also asked if water testing would be conducted to make sure that sinkholes don’t form and private water wells are not contaminated and county staff said environmental concerns will be accounted for.

The Selma Estates representative asked if there was any analysis conducted between a roundabout and a traffic signal at the proposed realigned intersection of Montresor Road and Limestone School Road?  The answer from Mr. Joe Kroboth, the Director of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure was “NO, the consultants only analyzed a roundabout in their traffic analysis – NOT a traffic light.  The follow-up question by the stakeholder representative was “why was there not any comparative analysis between a roundabout and a traffic light?”  There was silence by the county staff, the consultants and Supervisor Higgins and his chief of staff, Ms. Carey.  It should be noted that the “special interest no growthers” have all along insisted on roundabouts at ALL intersections regardless of the traffic engineering fact that VDOT does not support 2 lane roundabouts and a single lane roundabout will fail at this section of the corridor because of the high volume.

The Selma Estates representative asked if there were any plans to include a new project for the safety improvements north of Montresor Road to include the Western (or Eastern) bypass around Lucketts in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget currently being developed to take effect on July 1st, 2018, the start of the new fiscal year.  After much consternation among staff, Supervisor Higgins agreed that this project would be included in the budget.

The Lucketts Business Collaborative representative enquired as to whether the design for the widening would take into account safe entry and exiting around the businesses located along Route 15.  Mr. Kroboth and county staff answered affirmatively that those safety considerations would be part of the design features so as to not bring any harm, bodily, economic or otherwise to those businesses along the corridor.

The Lucketts Business Collaborative representative was also recognized by Supervisor Higgins as a recent Loudoun County Winery award winner for his vineyard’s wine.  The roomful of folks enthusiastically applauded this recognition of distinction.  It should be noted that there was no free wine flowing in the goblets of the stakeholders to joyously share any of vineyard’s bounty….

Finally, results from the recent online survey regarding concepts for Route 15 north of Montresor road were presented. 70% of the 1,043 responses favored “Concept B” which continues the 4 lanes with medians further north of Montresor Road with a Lucketts bypass. Over and over again these surveys continue to show community support for what past roadway studies have shown to be proper solutions to Route 15’s safety and congestion issues: 4 lanes with medians and fully paved shoulders. Its clear that the no growth group’s claims that citizens want a “traffic calming” or “alternative solution” are not true. More details regarding the survey and public input can be found here: https://www.loudoun.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/8233

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Mere Words and NO Start Date

Last night Supervisor Higgins sent out an email titled “Route 15 Improvements from Leesburg to Montresor Road Approved”.  Higgins goes on to state “after many years of work, I am pleased to inform you that improvements are finally coming to Route 15.”  This statement was in alignment with other words oft repeated by Supervisor Higgins to include “we are making tremendous progress…”, “improvements are coming….”, “there has never been any other project with this much community outreach in the history of the county…”.

What we have on display are mere words and NO progress other than stating the 3.5 mile widening from Battlefield Parkway up to Montresor Road will be completed within 10 years!

Supervisor Higgins has not disclosed when the project will begin nor has he been demanding county staff to produce a project plan with a start date!

The residents, families and school children are more deserving than mere words without any substance behind them and our elected officials must be held accountable!  There needs to be accountability AND action from our elected officials.

Please attend tonight’s community open house about the Route 15 Safety and Operational Study scheduled for Wednesday, September 26, 2018, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Lucketts Community Center, 42361 Lucketts Road. Let YOUR representatives know how you feel about the current timeline!

 

FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!!

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Staff Recommendations for the September 20 Board of Supervisors meeting

What is County Staff recommending to the Board of Supervisors (BOS)?

 

Prior to the September 20th, 2018 Board of Supervisors Business Meeting, County staff put together a lengthy report that will be presented to the Board with their recommendations. That report can be found here in its entirety: https://lfportal.loudoun.gov/LFPortalinternet/0/edoc/302671/Item%2007%20Rt%2015%20Congestion%20Report%20Scope%20of%20Improvements.pdf. This report is the culmination of almost 2 years of direct effort, including the Kimley-Horn study from May of 2017 and the yearlong Route 15 Stakeholders  Committee process. It is also the result of more than 20 years of studies as “Previous studies conducted in 1998, 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2016 by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Town of Leesburg were used for foundation information.”

 

The first and most important point in the report is the list of 5 Staff recommendation for Route 15:

  1. Staff recommends that the Board direct staff to design and construct the widening of Route 15 to a four-lane median divided roadway between Battlefield Parkway NE and Montresor Road (Route 661).
  2. Staff recommends that the Board direct staff to design and construct a realignment of the Route 15/North King Street intersection to become a continuous green T-intersection that is controlled by a traffic signal.
  3. Staff recommends that the Board direct staff to replace the existing traffic signal at Route 15/Whites Ferry Road/Raspberry Drive to accommodate four lanes of through traffic plus turn lanes.
  4. Staff recommends that the Board direct staff to design and construct a realignment of Limestone School Road (Route 661) to be aligned across from Montresor Road (Route 661) and design and construct a hybrid two-lane roundabout at the intersection.
  5. Staff recommends that the Route 15 improvements be designed to incorporate context sensitive design methodology and follow the Journey Through Hallowed Ground’s design guidelines where feasible.

 

How did Staff come to these conclusions? First, widening of the road –

“Widening Route 15: Staff recommends expanding Route 15 from two undivided lanes to four lanes median divided, with appropriate shoulders, between Battlefield Parkway and Montresor Road because it will reduce congestion and increase safety on that portion of the road. When the Report was published on May 18, 2017, VDOT reported the 2015 annual average daily traffic (AADT) volume for Route 15 north of the Town of Leesburg was 24,000 vehicles per day. The traffic volume has increased to 26,000 AADT in the 2017, which has further deteriorated conditions. According to the Planning and Preliminary Engineering Applications Guide to the Highway Capacity Manual 10, a two-lane rural, level highway is at capacity when the AADT reaches 16,880. The traffic volume on Route 15 north of Leesburg is over capacity; the only solution to this problem is to add capacity which means the road needs to be widened.”

 

This conclusion is in line with everything that we at FixRoute15NOW have published so far, and we applaud County Staff for coming to this decision.

 

Second, keeping the Whites Ferry Road & Raspberry Drive intersection as a traffic signal instead of changing it to a roundabout. You can read the entire lengthy roundabout response on page 12 of the report but here are the highlights:

  1. Traffic volume would require a 2-lane roundabout
  2. A traffic signal is better for large commercial and emergency vehicles
  3. The diameter of such a large roundabout would require additional right-of-way acquisition
  4. The steady stream of traffic exiting the roundabout would make access difficult for points north of White’s Ferry Road
  5. A signalized intersection is safer for bicyclists and pedestrians

Again, we applaud County Staff for coming to this recommendation.

 

You may be asking yourself, what about the single-lane roundabouts and traffic calming “solutions” touted by the special interest groups? County staff specifically addressed them:

“Traffic Calming Alternative Proposed by Some Stakeholder Committee Members: On behalf of the JTHG, the Catoctin Coalition, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Piedmont Environmental Council, and the Southern Environmental Law Center, a letter was sent to the Chair of the Board (Attachment 3) expressing support for roundabouts and traffic calming on Route 15 north of Leesburg. This group is opposed to widening Route 15 and desires a roundabout to be constructed at Whites Ferry Road/Raspberry Drive. Traffic modeling performed for the Report considered an interim alternative of a single lane roundabout at Whites Ferry Road without any widening of Route 15. This alternative fails in the projected 2020 PM peak period due to extensive queuing on northbound Route 15 which impacts the other intersections that were evaluated in the Report (Route 15 intersections at Whites Ferry Road, Tutt Lane and North King Street, and North King Street intersections of Smarts Mill Middle School and Dry Hollow Road/Tuscarora High School) causing all of them to operate at LOS F. Due to its poor performance, a single-lane roundabout is not recommended at the Whites Ferry Road/Raspberry Drive intersection.”

 

It is important to note that the Staff report is 136 pages long. Of those 136 pages, 116 pages consist of input by the special interest groups pushing their roundabout and calming initiative. In fact, since Mr. Ian Lockwood did not actually do a real study of the road, in yet another effort at deception and delay, the special interest groups combined several old presentations he has given to other groups over the years into a massive and irrelevant spam file that has nothing to do with the treacherous and congested Route 15 north of Leesburg. Thankfully, County staff saw through these tactics.

 

What can you do?

 

Although the proposed solutions do not please everyone 100% – for example, we still feel that a signalized intersection at Montresor Road would be more effective than a roundabout for the same reasons that the roundabout isn’t effective at Whites Ferry Road & Raspberry Drive – the time has come to move on from endless debate and study and get something meaningful accomplished. Even though county staff have made mostly correct recommendations, the possibility remains that the BOS could choose to proceed with an alternative path. The no-growth special interests will be out in force at the Board meeting on Thursday evening trying to convince them that the public is against widening despite all evidence to the contrary. Here is what we ask:

  1. Come to the meeting if you possibly can. Wear a red shirt or other clothing to show your support!
  2. Sign up to speak. Public input is slated to start at 6:30 pm. You can sign up to speak at the meeting (must be there at or before 6:30 pm), or you can call 703-777-0200 before Noon of the day of the Business Meeting (September 20th, 2018) ahead of time to request to speak.
  3. Write an email to the board showing your support for widening Route 15 to make it safe and provide congestion relief. Their emails are below:

Phyllis.Randall@loudoun.gov
Ralph.Buona@loudoun.gov
Suzanne.Volpe@loudoun.gov
Tony.Buffington@loudoun.gov
Ron.Meyer@loudoun.gov
Geary.Higgins@loudoun.gov
Matt.Letourneau@loudoun.gov
Kristen.Umstattd@loudoun.gov
Koran.Saines@loudoun.gov

Most importantly, let the board know that you support the Staff recommendations and demand that the project be completed within a compressed timeline, NOT 10 YEARS!

FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!!

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Board of Supervisors Meeting — September 20th

The Board of Supervisors will be receiving the Route 15 report on September 20, 2018.  Please come out and support the speakers by wearing red at this 5 PM meeting as they counter the special interest groups that have blocked the widening of Route 15 for decades.  In fact, the latest effort by these groups is to limit the widening of Route 15 by putting in roundabouts at two intersections.  The first roundabout will be at Whites Ferry Drive and Raspberry Falls Drive and the second roundabout will be at Montresor Road after realignment with Limestone School Road.  The special interest groups have recently been working behind the backs of the Route 15 Stakeholder Representatives by hiring an outside consultant who was pushing for these roundabouts in these 2 parts of the Route 15 Corridor and not for the widening of the road.

Roundabouts are not a solution to the safety and congestion on Route 15 due to volume of traffic at almost 3X of the road design and everyone in the community must stand up to the special interest groups NOW in order to make this road safe and congestion relief possible for all commuters, patrons of rural businesses, residents, families and school children.

Can we count on you to help make Route 15 safe?

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