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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Economist: Dominion Raceway would boost area economy

RELATED: See complete coverage of the Dominion Raceway

A rendering shows part of the planned oval track and grandstands at Dominion Raceway. Click for a larger view.

The Dominion Raceway would provide a “major new source of economic activity” for Spotsylvania County, a prominent regional economist wrote in a new report.

Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, recently completed the report for the developer of the proposed automotive racetrack and entertainment complex on 160 acres just off Interstate 95 in Thornburg.

Fuller’s report notes that the raceway would not compete with or duplicate any existing businesses in the region. He says it would “generate important new economic impacts” for Spotsylvania both during the construction phase and after it opens.

Fuller estimates that as many as 170,000 people would visit the track annually, and most of them would come from outside Spotsylvania. He says that would lead to new economic activity for nearby hotels and other businesses, as well as numerous new jobs and businesses locating in the area.

Developers frequently hire Fuller to prepare economic impact reports to be used during the government approval process. The Dominion Raceway needs a rezoning and special-use permit from Spotsylvania. The development team plans to submit the full application, including Fuller’s report, early next year.

The Dominion Raceway will also need a waiver from the Virginia Department of Transportation because its entrance would be only about 400 feet from the northbound ramp onto I-95 at Thornburg. VDOT requires that new commercial entrances be at least 750 feet from the start of the taper to the interchange ramp, and that major intersections be at least 1,320 feet from the interchange start.

Steve Britt, who is principal owner of the Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, is seeking to develop a road course, oval track and drag strip in Thornburg. He also plans year-round activities on-site including festivals, karting, collector-car auctions, drive-in movies and more.

The Manassas track, which has operated for more than 60 years, is now hemmed in by residential development, leading to frequent noise complaints from neighbors. Britt is now under contract to sell the 40-acre Manassas site to a homebuilder. He hopes to build the Dominion Raceway in Thornburg next year and have it open for the 2014 racing season.

Numerous auto racing fans have expressed excitement about the plans. But many people who live in the Thornburg area, including a group calling itself The Coalition to Preserve the Thornburg Countryside, have expressed concerns about the noise and traffic that the track would produce.

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