The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Tar and gravel ahead in park
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Part of Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg battlefield will be closed next Monday and Tuesday as the park road receives its second makeover this summer.
A contractor has agreed to apply a new layer of tar and gravel for free on North Lee Drive, which stretches almost two miles from Lansdowne Road to Lafayette Boulevard, said Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
The National Park Service resurfaced the paved road in May with tar topped with tan pea gravel. But the gravel did not settle properly because traffic was allowed on the road too soon, Smith said.
“Perhaps the contractor didn’t expect a park road to get as much traffic as North Lee does,” he said.
So the Park Service asked for repairs using a finer grade of gravel to fill in uneven spots.
Rocks that do not adhere to the tar after a few days will be swept from the road, Smith said. Lee Drive should reopen next Wednesday pending the weather.
The gravel was applied in an attempt to slow motorists and cyclists. Some commuters use the road, which follows Civil War trench lines, as a shortcut.
But some area residents took issue with Lee Drive’s new rocky surface after the work was completed in May with no public input.
The Fredericksburg Cyclists Club said the loose rocks made it unsafe for cyclists and others.
The park service responded to the backlash by sweeping excess gravel off of Lee Drive in June.
Terry Dorn, president of the Fredericksburg Cyclists Club, said Smith emailed him Tuesday about the latest project.
“I’m disappointed that they’re going to do it again” without seeking feedback from the community, Dorn said. “The road surface had smoothed out quite a bit.”
He added: “Certainly we’ll be monitoring the situation.”
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402