A $300 million, four-lane bypass planned for Manassas that aims to relieve traffic congestion on Va. 28 and other regional roads took another step forward Tuesday and could result in the taking of several more homes than county officials initially estimated.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved on Tuesday, Oct. 19, a $15 million contract with WSP USA Inc., a multinational engineering firm, for the design of the Va. 28 bypass. The contract was approved in a party-line vote with all five Democrats voting to approve the contract, and all three Republicans voting against it.
Supervisor Yesli Vega, R-Coles, pulled the contract’s approval off the board’s consent agenda, but there was no discussion among supervisors before the vote.
The new road would extend Godwin Drive in Manassas beyond Va. 234 Business to cut a new, four-lane road between the West Gate and Loch Lomond subdivisions to reconnect with Va. 28 at the Fairfax County line. At $300 million, the bypass would be one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in Prince William County history.
The project will be funded in large part by Prince William County taxpayers who authorized $200 million in new road bonds for the bypass in a 2019 referendum. Another $89 million will be funded by the regional Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
County officials initially said the bypass would result in the taking through eminent domain of an estimated 54 homes in the neighborhoods adjacent to the bypass and between seven and 10 mobile homes at Bull Run Mobile Home Park in Yorkshire. Dozens of residents who feared they would lose their homes voiced their opposition during public hearings last year, including many mobile home park residents who said they were never informed by the county that the project would impact the park.
It now appears that 16 mobile homes could be taken to make way for the bypass -- six to nine more than initial estimates, according to the contract approved Tuesday.
Most of the people who live in the park are Hispanic. Mobile home parks are among the last remaining affordable housing options left in Prince William County where housing costs are quickly increasing.
The bypass has been strongly opposed by the board’s three Republican members, Vega and Supervisors Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville and Pete Candland, R-Gainesville. It is also opposed by Del. Danica Roem, D-13th, who serves on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and represents Manassas Park, Yorkshire and parts of western Prince William.
Those elected officials have said they oppose the bypass in large part because of its impact on constituents who could lose their homes. But some have also raised concerns that the bypass is planned for an environmentally sensitive area bordering Flat Branch stream. Much of the bypass is planned to be built within a FEMA-designated floodplain, a 100-year flood hazard zone and the Chesapeake Bay Act’s Resource Protection Area.
The design contract states that extensive floodplain and stream restoration analysis will take place during the design of the bypass. County Transportation Director Ric Canizales has stated in the past that the construction of the bypass would likely require the restoration of Flat Branch stream to help reduce the impact of flooding in the area.
The Va. 28 bypass’ design is expected to be complete in 2022 or 2023, and construction could be completed by 2026 or 2027 if all goes according to plan, according to county officials.
Reach Daniel Berti at email@example.com