Virginia faces opposition in "Outer Beltway" plans

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) - Some environmental groups are opposing an effort by the administration of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to resurrect plans for a highway that would connect northern Virginia's outer suburbs in Loudoun and Prince William counties.

For years, some planners have advocated what's been called an "Outer Beltway" or a western bypass. It would be a mostly north-south highway that would serve the region's fast-growing outer suburbs.

On Wednesday in Richmond, Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board will consider a proposal from state Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton to declare such a highway a "corridor of statewide significance." The designation might make it easier to obtain funding.

Environmental groups say a highway would open up rural land to development and disturb tranquil areas around Manassas National Battlefield.