Opponents of the Bi-County Parkway project in Northern Virginia are responding to comments by the state's secretary of transportation faulting the federal government for dragging out the approval process.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton called it an embarrassment that the Bi-County Parkway has been studied 12 years and is still awaiting final approval.
But Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, which actively opposes new highway construction, says that one reason why the Bi-County Parkway is still on the drawing board is that VDOT itself suspended the study after 2005; Secretary Connaughton revived it recently.
"I would argue the biggest reason this is taking so long is it doesn't make any sense. This has been a controversial highway for many years, for decades, as a matter of fact. There's a reason why it's controversial. It does damage to historic resources. It will make traffic worse by inducing new sprawling development and more traffic," he says.
The public outcry against the project has been intense. Opponents contend the parkway should not be built over the western edge of Manassas battlefield, and they say the state should focus on improving east-west routes instead of building a north-south highway.
"There is always this implication that because an idea has been around for a long time and has been studied a lot, then it must be a good idea to build it now. Well, there is a lot of old ideas that we have discarded, so that's really no justification for the highway," says Schwartz.
Supporters say the Bi-County Parkway is critical to the future growth of Prince William and Loudoun Counties.