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According to proponents of the roadway, one reason the proposed Bi-County Parkway in Northern Virginia should be built is to exploit Dulles Airport's potential as a major cargo hub.
The estimated cost of building a major north-south highway west of Dulles Airport is $1 billion. The Virginia Department of Transportation is studying three options to connect that possible highway to the airport, the most expensive would cost another $1 billion. The altogether-enormous investment is designed to turn Dulles into the go-to place for shipping cargo.
"To me, the movement of people north and south, the movement of trucks north and south, helps all businesses in the area, including the airport," says Jack Potter, chief executive of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
Homeowners in the affected corridors of Loudoun and Prince William Counties are not as excited about the trucks. And Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf wrote a letter to Governor Bob McDonnell saying based on his conversations with airport officials, north-south highway supporters should not claim the project will lead to an increase in cargo at Dulles.
"In the case of cargo the construction of a road that would enable trucks to move cargo into and out of the airport certainly would be something that would benefit the airport and would make it more attractive to have cargo operations at the airport. Specifically, can we say that if the road is built, a specific growth number will happen in cargo? No," says Potter in response to Wolf's letter.
Among the Bi-County Parkways many opponents is Stewart Schwartz, of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. He says plans for Dulles amount to dreams.
"All we have are projections from one industry sector—Boeing—and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority about their cargo growth potential. We don't have real numbers about their realistic market share, where that would come from, and whether it is worth spending a few billion dollars on highways to make that happen," he says.
Proponents also say the new highway could also help air travelers get to either the airport or the future Silver Line stop at Dulles faster.