Local bonds: Yes

When voters look at their ballots this Tuesday, they will see proposed state constitutional amendments and bond issues across the top. The last item on the top line is the much contested Northern Virginia sales tax referendum.

Further down the ballot are the lightly contested U.S. Senate and House races along with a state senate race, depending on the precinct.

Below all these items is a ballot item that needs to be taken seriously despite voter opinions on the above ballot questions. This final item is the Prince William County road improvement bond issue. It’s good that the powers that be separated the local bond measure from the hotly debated regional and state ballot questions.

The county bond question as with similar bonds in 1988, 1990, 1994 and 1998 will improve our local road system using county resources and expertise. Prince William County has been in the road building business for a number of years and it’s tough to find fault with the job it has done so far. That’s why voters must vote “Yes” on the county bond question on Nov. 5.

Prince William County’s record speaks for itself. In the past the county has sold bonds to construct the Prince William Parkway an ambitious project that connected the county’s east and west ends. Bonds were also used to construct the Va. 234 Bypass, Cardinal Drive and Ashton Avenue. Better yet, the county has easily paid off these bonds while maintaining an excellent bond rating.

Not only does the county list specific road improvements for which the bonds will pay, it has an excellent record of following through on these promises. The Virginia Department of Transportation could learn a lot from Prince William County. Then again, VDOT has raided the county for qualified transportation officials over the past couple of years.

Now it’s time once again to invest in our local roads. All the projects listed on the bond referendum are included in the county’s long term plans. They include improvements to Sudley Manor Drive and U.S. 15 in the county’s west end. Also included is the widening of Minnieville Road between Cardinal Drive and Spriggs Road and another stretch between Caton Hill Road and Old Bridge Road.

There will also be improvements to the Prince William Parkway. This includes additional turn lanes at its intersection with Minnieville Road and the at the parkway’s intersection with Old Bridge. There will also be $12 million set aside for improvements to U.S. 1. Specifics on these improvements depend on additional state and federal funding. The local bond will take up where federal and state funding leaves off.

This totals $86.7 million in improvements to our county road system. It’s money that will be spent locally and doesn’t involve new taxes.

Some pessimists have said that the local bond package may be defeated because voters will become confused with the numerous ballot questions and referenda. We don’t believe that’s true. Consider 1998 when county voters had three separate local bond questions one for roads, another for parks and another for the proposed Potomac River Driver. Voters approved the road and park bonds while turning down the ill-fated Potomac River Drive plan.

That’s why we’re confident voters will approve this local road bond package, regardless of the outcomes of the other ballot questions.

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