On Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors will vote on a special use permit that, if approved, would allow Allan Myers Paving to locate an asphalt manufacturing plant on Bethlehem Road in Manassas. The plant would be the second on this road and sit only 1,300 feet from the nearest townhome in Kessler Ridge and 1,450 feet from Mullen Elementary school.
This proposed asphalt manufacturing plant is problematic for many reasons, including equity, pollution, health and traffic concerns.
Firstly, the proposed location of the asphalt plant is right up the road from Mullen Elementary school, and if built, would exacerbate air quality issues for these students. This school is made up of 88% minority students, nearly half of whom are English language learners and 66% of whom are economically disadvantaged. If the board approves this special use permit, they will only compound the fact that air pollution and asthma disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic populations.
Unfortunately for this community, the proposed plant will be next to the existing Branscome Paving plant. Already residents have endured health conditions, such as asthma, as well as soot-stained homes as a result of pollution coming from this existing asphalt plant. Adding another one would just rub salt into the wound this community has been dealing with for years.
The new asphalt plant will also add an average of 230 daily truck trips on area roads, resulting in major congestion and added noise in surrounding neighborhoods—not to mention increased pollution—an issue residents have stated is already a problem.
Even if so-called “solutions” are found, such as changing the truck route and putting up sound walls or buffers between the plant and Mullen Elementary, the negative environmental and health impacts on residents, children and the surrounding communities cannot be prevented.
Why are we putting our children’s health on the line? Is it for tax revenue? Or to meet the increased demand for highway construction services and materials? It becomes clear now more than ever that we need to rethink the way we develop in our county.
Residents and impacted individuals have urged the county to say no, but at the last meeting, the board was gridlocked, with four in favor and four opposed. Supervisors Kenny Boddye, Jeanine Lawson, Yesli Vega, and Pete Candland voted against the special permit, taking a stance to protect all citizens of Prince William County equally.
At the upcoming Sept. 8 meeting, we must call on the four supervisors who voted “yes,” to vote “no” to protect the community from even more pollution, traffic and degrading health conditions.
Tiziana Botino, Mothers Out Front
Meredith Holland, Greater Prince William Climate Action Network
Esmeralda Flores & Teresa Thornton, Youth Climate group