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No way PGA on Seneca Road in Great Falls, VA

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STOP USE OF SENECA ROAD FOR HEAVY TRAFFIC FOR SENIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP at “Trump National Golf Club Washington, DC” in Potomac Falls, VA on May 23-28, 2017 (Memorial Day Weekend)


Dear Residents of Great Falls (especially those who live off of Seneca Road):

We urge you to sign the below petition addressed to Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust (tel: 703-356-0551) and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, to oppose and do everything in their authority, including enforcing a longstanding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Counties of Fairfax and Loudoun, to stop use of Seneca Road for heavy traffic for the Senior Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA) Championship event to be held at the private Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, VA.  We request the PGA to instead use the larger roads in Loudoun County (Algonkian Parkway and Lowes Island Blvd) which lead directly to the golf club and are better able to handle the high traffic volume and number of large vehicles expected for the Tournament for the below reasons:

VIOLATION OF AGREEMENT: A total of 45,000 people are expected to transit in large buses (53-seats each) to the golf course for the Championship from Tuesday May 23 through Sunday May 28, 2017.  However, a longstanding MOU negotiated and steadfastly enforced since 1988 between the Counties of Fairfax and Loudoun limits transit access on Seneca Road to only seventy eight (78) homes in Loudoun.  In violation of this MOU, the PGA obtained permission from the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to open a gate at the end of Seneca Road, and has been granted transit access by Fairfax Water across their facility, for the purpose of using Seneca Road as the main access artery.  There may also be other inappropriate uses of Seneca Road prior to the Championship for preparations.

The above uses are a violation of Paragraph 4 of the above-mentioned MOU.  Allowing this exception to the MOU will set a dangerous precedent for other through-transit traffic.  Seneca Road is not engineered for this size and volume of buses or for this kind of traffic.  This is completely inconsistent with the semi-rural zoning of Great Falls.  Allowing such an exception will also encourage litigation from other landowners seeking such an arrangement for future uses.

INCONSISTENT CLAIMS MADE BY PGA: The PGA representative explained in a meeting of the Great Falls Citizens Association transportation committee on March 7, 2017, that the PGA needed to use Seneca Road for such access because the golf course lacks sufficient space to turn around buses of this size.  However, satellite photos show there is adequate space and that the likely reason is that the PGA does not want to give up 10% or so of its VIP parking space for a bus turn around.  When challenged about their prior assertion days after the meeting and shown the satellite photos, the PGA representatives changed their story by apologizing for providing misleading information.  They now claim they need to use Seneca Road for handicap access.  Needs for handicapped visitors can be met with smaller, special shuttles that would be expressly for their special and legitimate needs that would not require using Seneca Road for commercial event transit.

CLOSURE OF SENECA ROAD: PGA plans to have buses run every 15 minutes starting at 5:30am until the facility closes at night for six (6) days which includes the Memorial Day Weekend.  PGA indicates their plan is to close Seneca Road just north of Georgetown Turnpike and to require residents to apply for permits to access their property during that time.

RISKS TO CHILDREN AND RESIDENTS: Schools will be in session that week. While the PGA claims there would be no issues with buses, risks exist. The width of Seneca Road is inadequate.  School buses barely have room to pass and have a history of knocking off side view mirrors because of insufficient passing space unless they are moving far below the speed limit.  Further, we have many high school drivers that use this road to school and for after-school activities.  These drivers are inexperienced and more at risk for such an unexpected and incredible increase in vehicular traffic. Those with homes with driveways directly accessing Seneca are particularly at risk.  We are all too aware of the many blind hills and tight curves and the areas of poor visibility that likely will cause large buses to cross the center line into oncoming traffic in many spots.

VOLUME OF TRAFFIC: To put this level of traffic into context, consider the following: We have approximately 15,000 residents TOTAL in all of Great Falls - our population density is approximately 600 people per square mile.  There are far fewer than 1,000 homes on the entire road and arteries accessed via Seneca Road. This event proposes to move 45,000 people – three times the population of ALL of Great Falls (a town which covers approximately 30 square miles) over 6 days - over one single 4-mile stretch of our small roads!  This will add to the congestion and delays already present at the intersections of Seneca Road, Georgetown Pike, and Route 7.  It is hard to imagine what this level of traffic would be like.  

Great Falls is a semi-rural community with rural roads and NOT a commercial district.  Seneca Road property is not zoned for this kind of property use.

IMPACT TO SENECA REGIONAL PARK: Controlling access on Seneca Road to residents or their guests will also limit recreational access to Seneca Regional Park to the many people who use the park daily for hiking and horseback riding.  This pristine wilderness area alongside the Potomac River is home to a wide variety of wildlife and the remains of George Washington’s Patowmack Canal.  Moving numerous buses and tens of thousands of people each day through the park will threaten this fragile environment.  Further, the Fairfax Water road through the park is one-lane and narrow, with no barriers, hair pin bends and a steep drop to a stream.  This poses additional risks of an accident with uncertain liability for Fairfax County.

 



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