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Virginia Business Leaders Rally Behind 'Outer Beltway'

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At a news conference in Manassas on Thursday, business leaders responded to what they view as a dishonest campaign by opponents of the "outer beltway," a new north-south corridor being backed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

"They are really designed to scare folks off from the many benefits this road will bring. There has been less than a fair and open conversation about the many attributes of the bi-county parkway project," said Tony Howard, the president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. "We can advocate a message of reducing congestion in our region, of accommodating the substantial growth we know we are going to see. Our two communities brought in 250,000 new residents in the last ten years."

Future job and population growth in the Dulles area, say supporters, necessitates more north-south lanes, even though state data show significantly more traffic volume on Northern Virginia's east-west routes. The new roadway is expected to cost $1 billion.

"Loudoun and Prince William County are no longer bedroom communities exclusively. They are now true employment centers," said Howard. "We know with the growth of the commercial tax base in our respective communities that there is going to be ever increasing demand for north-south connectivity."

"The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments projects that much of the region's future population and job growth will occur in the adjacent communities to Dulles," said Rob Clapper, the president of the Prince William Chamber. "At the end of the day this road is about improving the quality of life throughout all of our communities. There are things it is targeted to do, specifically untangling the region's transportation mess."

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