The Prince William Board of County Supervisors on Tuesday deferred a planned vote to endorse the location of the proposed $300 million Va. 28 bypass, a project that aims to relieve traffic congestion in Manassas and Manassas Park but would require the taking of up to 70 homes for right-of-way.
The board voted unanimously to move the decision to the board’s Aug. 4 meeting at the request of Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles. Vega said she would like to conduct more community outreach about the project before the board makes a final decision.
“This is not an easy taking. We’re talking about removing people from their homes,” Vega said.
Five area residents whose homes will be impacted by the new bypass spoke against the project. Carol Blaser, whose family owns a home on Alleghany Road in the path of the proposed bypass, said her home “will be demolished” if the bypass is approved.
“We never imagined our home could be taken away from us to build a road,” Blaser said. “...We would be devastated if we lose our home.”
Ric Canizales, the county's transportation director, said impacted homeowners will be offered “fair market value” for their homes. Canizales said the county will offer to pay all or most of the difference for a new home of comparable size and will cover relocation and moving costs.
“It’s not just, we come in there and take your home. There's a big process that we follow,” Canizales said.
The board’s endorsement of the bypass location will allow county planners to begin the design process, which could take up to two years, Canizales said. Canizales has said the construction of the bypass itself likely would not be finished until 2026 or 2027.
The bypass would extend Godwin Drive beyond its current terminus at Va. 234 Business to create a new road cutting through about four miles of mostly undeveloped land between the West Gate of Lomond and Yorkshire Park neighborhoods. The road would parallel Flat Branch creek, a tributary of Bull Run. It would then cross over Bull Run on a widened and rebuilt bridge to rejoin the existing Va. 28 near the Fairfax County line.
A study of several options aimed at improving traffic congestion on Va. 28 showed that the bypass project would result in the fewest impacts to area homes and businesses, but would have the largest impact on area wetlands and public recreational lands.
Several people spoke in favor of the new bypass during the meeting, including Jason Stanford, executive director Northern Virginia transportation Alliance, a coalition of business and development interests, and Ross Snare, a representative from the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce.
Board Chair Ann Wheeler, D-At Large, appeared to support a move to endorse the proposed route for the bypass but raised concerns about the impact to residents whose homes could be taken in the right-of-way process.
“My main concern is that, if we do end up taking homes … that people are fairly compensated,” Wheeler said.