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Swayed by opponents, Prince William County board delays Outer Beltway decision

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley,Metro and Traffic

Prince William County leaders, swayed by angry residents, have approved a roads plan that is missing a controversial highway critics say is part of a planned Outer Beltway.

The Board of Supervisors voted to push forward other road projects while deferring a decision on the Tri-County Parkway, which would link Interstate 66 near Manassas and Route 50 near Washington Dulles International Airport, and which critics say is part of a larger scheme to create a new outer-ring highway that would cross the Potomac River and create sprawl.

Residents' concerns prompted Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, to ask the board to delay its decision on the parkway, a favorite of Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration.

"People all around the county are very concerned," he said. "They have a lot of questions."

The vote came after about 650 residents gathered to air their opinions on the project and learn about the road from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

"It was absolutely packed," said Haymarket resident Linda Budreika. "People were pretty worked up."

Budreika is part of a vocal group of residents banding together to oppose the road, and they made their voices heard at the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday, saying the road would ruin valuable rural areas and wouldn't reduce traffic congestion.

"The traffic's east-west. It's not north-south. Nobody ever says, 'I can't get to Dulles,' " Budreika told The Washington Examiner. "The other thing is it slices our country right in half. And anybody who thinks this is going to help the [Manassas] battlefield -- there's going to be sprawl all around the perimeter. There's going to be noise; there's going to be pollution. It's insane."

County supervisors said they wanted to meet with more state transportation officials before voting on the parkway, but it's not clear when that vote would be, said an aide to Candland.

It's also not clear whether the county's board has any power to stop the road, despite sending a list of favored projects to the state every year. Candland in a recent letter asked the county's top lawyer to determine whether the board could stop the state from closing Route 234 through Manassas National Battlefield Park -- a closure state officials say is necessary to build the parkway. Candland has not received a reply, an aide said.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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