Manassas National Battlefield Bypass Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Manassas National Battlefield Park was established in 1940 by order of the Secretary of the Interior to preserve the scene of two major Civil War battles. The first major engagement of the Civil War, the First Battle of Manassas was fought on land that is now a part of the Park on July 21, 1861. A little over a year later, in August of 1862, the Second Battle of Manassas, a larger battle resulting in greater casualties, was also fought at the Park. The Park is one of 31 civil war sites in the National Park System and is visited by an average of 800,000 people every year.
The conflict between Park related activities and non-Park related cut-through traffic on US 29 and VA 234 has resulted in several problems including, disturbance to historic resources, Park interpretation conflicts, and serious impediments to public safety, traffic congestion and other concerns. Studies to relocate either Route 29 or 234 started in the late 1970s by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) as recognition of the conflict between the roads and the Park. In 1980 Congress passed the Manassas National Battlefield Park Amendments of 1980 partially in response to a relocation study for Route 234 which would allow for Route
234 to be relocated from the center of the Park to the western edge of the Park just to the east of Pageland Lane. However, this portion was never pursued by VDOT and Congress passed the Manassas National
Battlefield Park Amendments of 1988 to address the continuing conflict between the roads and the Park. The 1988 Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Prince William County conduct a study to consider and develop plans for closing the portions of US 29 and VA 234 that transect the Park and to provide alternative routes for traffic now traveling through the Park.
The purpose of the study for this study is to develop alternatives that will allow for the closure of the portions of US Route 29 and VA Route 234, which currently transect the Manassas National Battlefield Park and to provide alternatives for the traffic currently traveling through the Park. As such, it is not the purpose of this project to provide additional capacity through Park boundaries, but rather to study whether or not relocating the existing capacity in another location or by another means would allow for the closure of the roads within the Park.
The project need is based on several elements. Historic preservation, Park interpretation and visitor experience, as well as Park management and operations are negatively affected by traffic congestion within the Park from non-Park related cut-through traffic. These heavy volumes of non-Park related traffic impede access to historic sites and create public safety conflicts. Continued growth in areas surrounding the park will only worsen traffic conditions and diminish historic preservation and Park experience, although the primary element of need for closure of the roads is a result of the existing traffic congestion.