To: Loudoun Board of Supervisors
From: The Community of Lucketts
We respectfully ask the Board of Supervisors to postpone adoption of the Route 15 North Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPAM) and instead initiate interim actions now to address our immediate needs and protect residents and businesses from undue impacts to our quality of life and livelihoods.
We have been requesting safety improvements on Route 15 in the Lucketts area for the past 20 years. Though we appreciate this board’s renewed attention to our needs, adding the proposed Route 15 widening and Lucketts bypass to the comprehensive plan would inevitably direct resources and attention to that massive project while we continue to wait for the legitimate safety improvements we so desperately need and want.
County staff has estimated the proposed project cost to be an astounding $308 million in 2022 dollars.1 That figure could grow to exceed half a billion dollars by completion even without inflation. Even worse, local tax dollars are the only source of funding identified to date.
In addition to the huge cost that all county taxpayers would have to bear, the board’s official act of adding the project to the comprehensive plan would result in an immediate and significant reduction in property values for our residents who live or run businesses directly along the corridor. Please consider, as Transportation Director Joe Kroboth has indicated, that the price tag would be unaffordable to complete as a single project, and would therefore need to be completed in phases. This means the timeframe for completing the project could be a “couple decades” as Mr. Kroboth has publicly acknowledged.2 Yet these property owners would get hit with the loss in property value the day the project is added to the comprehensive plan, and that impact would stick with the property as long as the project remains in the plan. This is too unfair and unnecessary, particularly when the major needs can be addressed now, in a much more focused manner without burdening residents and businesses.
Therefore we implore you to work with VDOT to implement cost-effective, common sense safety and operational improvements that would quickly and meaningfully increase the reliability of the road. We have called for widening lanes, expanding shoulders and filling gaps in the center and edge rumble strips within the existing right-of-way. These are just some of the many low-cost operational improvements proven to substantially reduce accidents and induce safer driving on 2-lane rural highways across the United States.
These measures would also provide greater access for emergency vehicles and enforcement sites along the road much sooner than would occur by pursuing the approach proposed by the CPAM.
While this step with VDOT proceeds, we also urge you to direct planning and transportation staff to work together with the community on a Small Area Plan for Lucketts as called for in the comprehensive plan. This would allow us to be meaningfully involved in planning the future of our community, reviewing all possible congestion solutions and agreeing on improvements that business, agricultural, and rural residential members can support. Once these decisions have been made and put in place for the next update of the comprehensive plan, county staff can then develop a time-based construction budget and identify related funding mechanisms for the proposed changes.
This approach brings safety improvements in a timelier manner, involves our community in solutions and protects residents and businesses from harmful impacts that are likely unnecessary and at best grossly premature. Not only is proceeding in this manner good for our community of Lucketts, we believe everyone in Loudoun will benefit from this approach.
We urge you to seriously consider our plea; vote to postpone the Route 15 Comprehensive Plan Amendment and begin those safety improvements immediately.
Business owners and residents of Lucketts and the surrounding area
1 Staff report-Planning Commission work session 3/11/22, p. 15, Concept B
2 Discussion-Planning Commission work session 3/11/22
Photo credit: Hugh Kenney