Walbridge Brings Together Agribusinesses, Chair To Discuss Improvements To Rt. 9 Project
Amid growing tensions between western Loudoun agribusinesses and project leadership, Walbridge’s call for greater consideration of Rt. 9 project’s impact on rural economy met with success
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2019
Round Hill —Monday evening, Tia Walbridge, Democratic nominee for Blue Ridge Supervisor, brought together Chair Phyllis Randall and the Loudoun Heights Agro-Tourism Council (LHATC) to discuss the detrimental impact of the current construction proposal for Rt. 9 on local agribusinesses and the rural economy. The meeting concluded with a unanimous decision to call for the Town of Hillsboro to delay construction until town leadership meets with and takes seriously the recommendations of LHATC, which represents the agritourism business community centered around the Town of Hillsboro — from vineyards, farm wineries, and farm breweries to tasting rooms, event venues, restaurants, and farmers’ markets.
“We love to tout the achievements of Western Loudoun’s agritourism economy, but we do little to actively support the farmers and business owners who are responsible for our unique rural character. Too often, we fail to even bring them to the table to participate in important decisions that impact their businesses,” Walbridge said. “That’s why I’m incredibly proud that this group was able to come together to find tangible solutions to such a consequential project for our rural economy.”
“Tia has been a strong supporter in helping to make sure our needs are taken into account, and we appreciate her efforts in support of the rural business community,” Peter Deliso, Chairman of 868 Vineyards & Grandale Restaurant and a Founding Member and Director of LHATC, said. “We have been trying to arrange a meeting with the Town, and we would like to work cooperatively with all concerned, but this step, again, has not happened. The project needs to be placed on hold until this critical process flaw has been addressed and the local area businesses are in a position to endorse and support the plan.”
Road closures in the current plan would severely threaten the future of these businesses, which account for the vast majority of the region’s economic activity, employing several hundred people and with combined investments of over $50 million. According to LHTAC’s nine charter members, the plan in its current form would result in a loss of over $4.6 million in annual revenue, over 115 full-time and seasonal jobs, and $1.8 million in planned investments from their businesses alone. Two-thirds of these businesses would dramatically cut their hours. Losses are expected to be significantly higher, as these numbers include neither LHATC’s newest members nor the other businesses in the area.
In addition to delaying the project, Walbridge calls for project leaders to make the following changes to project:
- Allow for traffic to flow in two directions from 12pm Friday to 9pm Sunday
- Include a representative from LHATC on the Program Management Committee
- Ensure all alternative routes be able to safely accommodate delivery trucks, school buses, tour buses, limousines, and first responders.