WASHINGTON - Virginia and the National Park Service will move ahead with both the Bi-County Parkway and the Manassas National Battlefield Park Bypass at the same time.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will spend $4 million for preliminary engineering and design work for the roadways, construction of which will eventually cost more than $600 million.
The decision to move forward with both roads as opponents continue to fight the plans comes after Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton wrote National Park Service Superintendent Edward W. Clark III on Aug. 14.
"We believe it would be beneficial to VDOT, NPS and the public to design both roads concurrently to reduce potential confusion and provide a complete picture of the future road network surrounding the Park," Connaughton wrote.
Connaughton has long maintained that the Bi-County Parkway is needed because of population growth in both Prince William and Loudoun counties and the growth in commercial activity at Dulles International Airport.
Clark agreed with Connaughton.
"The NPS agrees with your assessment that it is is the best interest of the public for both the Bi-County Parkway and the (Manassas National Battlefield Park) Bypass to not only be designed, but also constructed, at the same time," Clark wrote back to Connaughton on Aug. 28.
Clark said the park service has been working for decades to remove traffic from Manassas National Battlefield Park.
Specifically, the park service has been working with VDOT to close Va. 234 through the battlefield.
"Traffic has been an ongoing and increasingly challenging issue for the battlefield for generations, " Clark said in the letter.
But the plan to close the major commuter route does not sit well with opponents, including Delegate Tim Hugo.
He said the project means "hundreds of millions of dollars taken away from projects that have been sitting on the shelf for years."
As for the opposition, Connaughton said, "This is typical for most transportation projects."
Hugo said he will try to stop the project when the Virginia General Assembly convenes in January.
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