County Government Moves to Take Over Development Traffic Studies

Loudoun supervisors are looking at options to take control over traffic studies that are prepared for proposed developments by those developers.

Currently, when developers propose large projects to the Board of Supervisors, they are required to conduct studies on the expected impact of that development on traffic. Developers typically hire their own consultants to conduct those studies, and Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who proposed the change with Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), said “increasingly there have been strains on credibility” in the results.

Board Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) pointed to the example of a recently approved rezoning to build out the last section of the Lansdowne Town Center, which was held up when county officials pointed out the traffic study did not consider the new Belmont Ridge Road interchange nearby or look at one of two main entrances to the property. He said developers won’t “volunteer to add roads to the study.”

“I don’t want to call it the fox guarding the chicken coop, but in a way I think having it done independently presents a much more fair image to the public,” Buona said.

Members of the county’s transportation staff are looking at a range of options to increase oversight of the studies, from conducting them almost entirely by county employees, to hiring a single additional county staffer to manage a pool of consultants. In all cases, the county’s plan is to have the additional cost offset by developer fees.

“The idea is not to duplicate what’s being done, but rather to have a better product once,” Letourneau said. “And so I’m not convinced that there’s necessarily going to be a higher cost for the applicants, because they are performing these functions and paying for them as it is.”

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