Potomac Bridge Study Divides Loudoun Board
Supervisors get parochial about location of proposed bridge crossing.
The possibility of studying a new bridge across the Potomac seems to have supervisors at odds about which proposed locations should be up for consideration.
Earlier this year Del. Randy Minchew (R-10) proposed the state study the possibility of extending Route 28 north across the Potomac to connect with Maryland’s Interstate 270 with Interstate 66 in Virginia. And while that proposal died in committee, supervisors are trying to decide whether to support renewed legislation next year to study the span.
Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) during this week’s board meeting pointed out some concerns about crossing the river north of Route 28, in particular the existing Broad Run Farms community.
“In the committee meeting it went down in flames,” Volpe said of the proposed $75,000 study, pointing out the state chose an alignment north of Route 28 “you’d be taking out half of Broad Run Farms, which is the oldest community neighborhood in eastern Loudoun.”
In addition, she pointed out the Super Fund site near the community — the Hidden Lane Landfill, an unauthorized dump that contaminated wells in the area — and that piers needed to support such an extension through wetlands might require the use of explosives.
“I’m sure the folks from the EPA would tell us it’s not a good idea to do any blasting in that area,” Volpe said.
Instead, Volpe said, other alignments make more sense, such as extending Belmont Ridge north or following the power line right of way just east of Leesburg.
Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) said extensions of Route 28 or possibly Loudoun County Parkway would serve as better alignment for any such bridge.
“Route 28 is a logical point,” he said, adding that the state should “look at the feasibility of tunneling this” instead of building a bridge.
“If blasting is a problem, it just may not be possible and Loudoun County Parkway is the way to go,” said.
Reid and Volpe both said Minchew did not consult with Del. Tag Greason (R-32), who represents the area north of Route 28 and the resident of Broad Run Farms.
County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) said he’s long supported a tunnel.
“That’s what I’ve been telling them for the last 10 years,” he said. “Look at the tunnel.”
The Belmont Ridge alignment is not a realistic consideration, said Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), who represents that area, because Lansdowne is already in the way.
“That corridor is maxed out,” he said, calling Route 28 the most logical route. He also said such a crossing “would open up the corridor to fantastic economic development.”
Buona said Minchew thinks he can better navigate the proposal through the General Assembly next year. Such a crossing has been discussed several times over the years, and Maryland has long opposed it.
“Whether this would ever come to fruition even if we do the study is a question mark,” he said.
Not to choose sides, Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) said the proposal really should not be among the county’s top priorities, and that county lobbyists should focus on other more pressing issues.
“I do support the study of a river crossing, broadly,” he said. “An item like this, quite frankly should not be as much of a priority as some of the other things this board is pursuing.”
Supervisors plan to meet with state legislators in November this year to discuss the upcoming General Assembly session.