Just a little Thursday afternoon traffic humor to enjoy on your drive home while you’re parked on Route 15.
On Wednesday November 28, 2018 the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) held a public meeting to discuss the future of Route 15. Part of this discussion involved public input on the potential for over $110 million dollars to be allocated to Route 15 improvements north of Montresor Road. Most of the public was unaware that this meeting was taking place due to Supervisor Higgins’s office making the outrageous decision to send out a general notice less than 24 hours beforehand. However, the no-growther groups that oppose improving Route 15 were informed much earlier, seem to have nothing better to do, and therefore were the main voices heard at the meeting despite public opinion polls showing more than 80% in favor of expanding the road. They argued at the meeting that residents were not involved and that the money is not needed which are complete lies. Only a few voices were able speak in favor of the funding, likely due to the late notice.
The lack of ability for normal citizens to show up to all these events due to family and work obligations is why we have elected officials to handle government business on our behalf. However, despite the overwhelming majority of his constituents demanding a realistic fix to this road, Supervisor Higgins did not even bother to show up to this meeting to speak on behalf of his district. On top of this, it has been six (6) months since funding was approved for widening Route 15 up to Montresor Road and Supervisor Higgins has STILL not submitted a project plan nor done anything to accelerate the project. It is in limbo until he gets off his rear end and actually does something other than talk. We find this to be a severe case of dereliction of duty and question why Supervisor Higgins does not just resign his position if he cannot do very basic steps to move projects forward or even bother to show up at meetings he feels are important enough to send public notices about. His continued delays with moving Route 15 forward are very purposeful and against the wishes of his constituency. If he cannot do his job, it is time for someone else to take over.
In addition, Supervisor Higgins failure to show up and advocate for funding of $110M for the widening and safety improvements from Montresor Road up to the Point of Rocks may send the wrong message to the Commonwealth Transportation Board Commissioners that this is NOT a priority since Supervisor Higgins was nowhere to be seen nor heard.
The CTB is taking public comments via email through December 13. Please take 5 minutes of your time and write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let them know that you support improvements to Route 15 and want these improvements to happen ASAP.
Also, Supervisor Higgins can be reached at email@example.com. Let him know how you feel about his continued dereliction of duty, lack of leadership, and failure to put forward a project plan while sitting on $79M in approved funding..
We’ll see if he bothers to read and answer your email.
FIX ROUTE 15 NOW!!!
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.
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.
Does Geary Higgins have an intent to FIX Route 15 NOW?
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
Why is Supervisor Higgins constantly entertaining and communicating with a group of no growthers and their consultant in secrecy? Why is this being done outside of the “official” Route 15 Stakeholder Committee?
On August 31st Supervisor Higgins received a letter and 100+ page report from the following Route 15 “no growther groups”:
Coalition for Smarter Growth
Journey Through Hallowed Ground
Piedmont Environmental Council
Southern Environmental Law Center
Toole Design Group
Supervisor Higgins never shared the no growthers secret report with the official Route 15 Stakeholder Representatives Committee! In fact, Higgins included this group’s 100+ page report as an attachment in Staff’s “Route 15 – Congestion Report Improvements” that was presented before the Board of Supervisors on September 20, 2018 after having it for twenty (20) days – a shameful and deceitful act!
Supervisor Higgins not only continues to entertain and communicate with this “Shadow” Group of no growthers and their consultant, Supervisor Higgins fails to publish and share any of their e-mail communications or notes from these meetings.
Is this the “transparency” that Supervisor Higgins brags about?
Supervisor Higgins, when will you publish all of your communications to and from these no growther groups and their consultant (between you, Loudoun County Staff and/or the Loudoun County’s consultant Kimley-Horn)?
Is this project intentionally being delayed by Supervisor Higgins and the County’s transportation staff constantly meeting with these no growther groups?
Isn’t it time to Fix Route 15 Now Supervisor Higgins?
Loudoun Now continues to offer the Catoctin Coalition, PEC, JTHG, and others a platform to spread lies and misinformation to Loudoun Citizens in their latest publication of Martha Polkey’s “opinion”: https://loudounnow.com/2018/10/17/op-ed-rt-15-plan-threatens-cascade-of-loss-for-rural-northern-loudoun/
Ms. Polkey has been the ringleader behind stopping all improvements to this road for 20+ years with the result being many deaths and the massive delays we all sit in daily. Nowhere in this ridiculous narrative of bogus lies and misinformation or in any of her other constant publications does she provide ANY realistic solutions to the problems on Route 15. No, she keeps pointing to “traffic calming” (code for slowing cars down) as a means to decrease congestion which is a big lie. Her goal is to make Route 15 so unbearable that no one wants to use it. The real boondoggle here is the idiotic roundabouts that she proposes which will saddle Loudoun taxpayers with $60 to $100 million dollars in debt and will fail on day one. Roundabouts are not designed to regulate peak one-way directional traffic and comparing Route 15 (a long stretch of highway) with Gilbert’s Corner (one intersection) is an apples to oranges comparison.
How about public input?
Ms. Polkey would have you believe that it was all a show but the facts are she just doesn’t like the outcome. Survey after survey shows massive support for widening with proper medians. Don’t believe her lies, Ms. Polkey had direct input to the consultants who were studying every solution. Some of her strange “ideas” probably lead to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars of extra work for the consultants to analyze. How about those who were supposedly not represented on the stakeholders committee? Supervisor Higgins directly mailed over 800 homes informing them of the work being done on Route 15 and how to give feedback. We frequently call out Supervisor Higgins for not moving this project forward fast enough but he has made sure people are involved. At this point, if you live along Route 15 and don’t know what is going on then you just don’t care.
Supervisor Higgins “slammed the door shut?”
What a fat lie. Ms. Polkey and her associates (PEC, JTHG, Ruritans, Ian Lockwood) constantly meet with Supervisor Higgins and county staff trying push their “solutions.” The mere fact that Mr. Lockwood’s “proposal” (which was really just 100+ pages of regurgitated BS from his previous presentations) was included in the document presented to the Board of Supervisors at the September 20th meeting shows that their “solutions” were considered. Again, the problem is Ms. Polkey and her group do not like the outcome so they are trying to say the process was not followed and people weren’t informed.
Yes, this is going to happen and is a minor consequence of progress. Some homes will have to be “inconvenienced” and won’t be able to make left turns directly from their driveway. The safety and efficiency of the roadway for thousands of citizens trumps a handful of people’s need to make occasional left turns directly from their driveway. Its debatable whether they can make these left turns today due to the traffic and safety issues. Our suggestion? Move the driveway to another access road instead of directly connecting to Route 15 if possible.
Our elected officials should stop wasting their valuable time (and our taxpayer dollars) on solutions that have already been studied and shown not to work. Instead, they should be concentrating on a project plan which would expedite Route 15 safety and congestion improvements.
Fix Route 15 Now!
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!!!
Delay, attack, mislead, malign, misinformation, block, deflection and denial. Those are the key components for the Special Interest No Growthers Obstructionist Playbook!
Special Interest “no growther” groups delay any meaningful road safety improvements by requesting more data and studies be conducted and insist on adherence to their own corridor management plan that advocates for “trees over peoples safety”.
Special Interest “no growther” groups attack individuals, and often the attack is of a personal nature, who are opposed to their position.
Special Interest “no growther” groups mislead the public by submitting one flowery article after another (and always lacking substance and fact) to the local newspapers about how the bucolic countryside will be “lost forever” while conveniently ignoring the horrendous loss of life and injuries.
Special Interest “no growther” groups make repeatedly false and maligning statements against all elected officials, organizations, and individuals in opposition to their point of view.
Special Interest “no growther” groups bombard elected and appointed officials with voluminous amounts of misinformation as a tactic to prevent any plans from taking shape to widen or add median strips and paved shoulders for safety.
Special Interest “no growther” groups block progress by scheduling repeated meetings with elected and government officials and managers and take up all of the “limited” speaking slots at public hearings to prevent voices with differing opinions from being heard.
Special Interest “no growther” groups use deflection as a tactic to “talk around” any data and facts that are presented which shred their arguments.
And finally, special Interest “no growther” groups use denial as a tactic by masquerading around as collaborative participants while all along plotting behind the scenes to deny any and all meaningful safety solutions that involve the widening of Route 15.
Special Interest “no growther” groups do not care about the safety and lives of the residents and schoolchildren along the Route 15 corridor and Supervisor Geary Higgins has yet to announce a start date with a project plan to have 4-lane widening, centerline median strips and paved shoulders put in place to protect us.
Perhaps Supervisor Higgins has another agenda other than the safety of the residents and schoolchildren and that is why there is no start date for this project that already has all of the necessary funding approved.
Perhaps Supervisor Higgins is playing politics to start this project a year from now when he is up for re-election.
Our lives and our children’s lives should not be used as pawns in an election scheme and Supervisor Higgins should be ashamed of this tactic.
Supervisor Higgins Should Fix Route 15 Now!!!!!
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!!!
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!!!