Our overall goal is to complete a connection between the W&OD Trail in Virginia with the C&O Canal Path in Maryland at the scenic Whites Ferry that operates just north of Leesburg VA.
In connection with the previous work we have done to establish a bike route between the W&OD and Ball's Bluff, within the Town of Leesburg, we are now focused on initiating, identifing funding and ensuring completion of a dedicated Bike/Hike Trail between Ball’s Bluff and Whites Ferry.
This desire to connect the W&OD and the C&O Canal Path has been a goal of many bike groups in the greater Washington DC area for many years. Significant work was done in the late 1990's to fund a trail along Route 15 north of Leesburg to achieve this connection, but unfortunately there was not sufficient funding to succeed at that time. This new Whites Ferry Project will provide the ability for many riders in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia to make a large complete loop from DC to Leesburg and return, which could include an overnight stop in Leesburg. Also, many riders of the C&O Canal Path making the entire ride from either Pittsburgh, PA and or Cumberland, MD are encouraged to overnight in Leesburg, per many online websites and blogs. This has resulted in many cyclists riding on Route 15, which is a busy road with fast moving traffic. In additon, for the riders coming off the Ferry in Virginia, there is no signage to help them find their way to the W&OD.
Starting in 2016, Bike Loudoun has been working with the Loudoun County Transportation Department and the relevant Supervisors and their staff to achieve a separate shared use path along Route 15 North. There are also some trail easements from Ball's Bluff to Route 15 and along Whites Ferry Road that can be used in connection with the Shared Use Path to complete this bike trail from Whites Ferry to Balls Bluff.
Traffic congestion on Route 15 north of Leesburg has gotten considerably worse in the past few years, especially during the morning and evening commute hours. Many local residents want this congestion improved. In addition, adding cyclists to the mix of these congested road conditions, especially those that are unfamiliar with the local area, is very dangerous.
There is now a proposed plan to alleviate this congestion which includes widening Route 15 to 4 lanes between Battlefield Parkway and White's Ferry Road, separating the grade for Route 15 Southbound at the North King Street Intersection and using either traffic lights or a new roundabout at the Whites Ferry Road Intersection.
On May 18, 2017, the Route 15 Congestion Project was presented to the Board of Supervisors by the County Transportation Department. At this meeting the Project included the following language in the documents describing the project and presented to the Supervisors:
"Community and Organizational Involvement: In preparation of the Route 15 Congestion Report, DTCI staff and Kimley-Horn met with various interested parties including Supervisor Higgins (Catoctin), Supervisor Umstattd (Leesburg), staff from the Town, VDOT, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Catoctin Coalition, and Bike Loudoun. The context sensitive design concepts that are presented in the report reflect the principles of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Corridor Management Plan. Additionally, all proposed concepts include a shared-use path along the east side of Route 15. "
"SHARED-USE PATH: Loudoun County understands that there is a desire to provide a bicycle facility connection between the Town of Leesburg/Balls Bluff Battlefield Regional Park and Whites Ferry Road. This connection would link the Town of Leesburg to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath in Maryland. Therefore, all concepts developed include a shared-use path along the east side of US Route 15. The future design should coordinate with Bike Loudoun."
As of August 2017, the Congestion Project, managed by the County Transportation Department and supported by Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. have developed some alternative designs for Route 15 between Battlefield Parkway and White's Ferry Road. This was reviewed at various "town hall' meetings in June and July of 2017. Subsequently a stakeholders committee of primarily HOA representatives in the affected neighborhoods have begun meeting to prepare a final design recommendation from the public side. An expected final design decision should occur around Fall / Winter 2017, and road Bike Path completion not until 2020, due to funding approval and budget processes and land acquisition issues with local landowners along the route.