New Stafford Courthouse interchange plans unveiled
BY SCOTT SHENK
The updated designs for the nearly $200 million reconstruction of the Route 630 interchange at Interstate 95 at Stafford Courthouse were on display Thursday night during a public meeting at Colonial Forge High School.
With each update, it becomes more clear how big the change will be in the courthouse area.
The huge interchange loop will divide a section of Route 630 and impact dozens of properties; the eastern portion of the road will be rerouted, moving the Courthouse Road intersection with U.S. 1 just south to the Stafford Hospital entrance. And there will be two commuter lots instead of one, adding about 500 more spaces than the original plans had.
Many of the 110 people who attended the meeting moved in close to the numerous maps and renderings, using their fingers to get an idea of how they will get around once the change happens.
The new loop interchange will replace the existing diamond-style on and off ramps—the last one of its kind on I–95 in Stafford.
And something else caught the eye of attendees: The project will bring an end to a longtime fast-food icon on Courthouse Road. The McDonald’s near the I–95 exit will be razed for the western commuter lot. Four gas stations around the exits and one private residence also will be lost to the project, which is still in the planning and design phase.
“This is a massive undertaking,” said retired school teacher Dudley Fowler, who has lived off of Courthouse Road for 40 years. He used to be able to pull out of his driveway without hardly looking.
Now, he said, it’s hard to get out at all.
“It’s just progress,” he said.
Fowler added that all of Courthouse Road needs to have four lanes.
There is a project in the early planning phases that will widen Route 630 west from the planned interchange, VDOT’s Michelle Shropshire said at Thursday’s public meeting.
The next step for the interchange project is to get Federal Highway Administration approval of right-of-way and utility plans, in late 2013.
Plans call for the project to be advertised for construction in early 2016.
It is expected to take up to three years to finish the estimated $183 million project, which isn’t yet fully funded, Shropshire said.
The designs aren’t final, so there will be some changes before final approval, she told several residents at the session.
One issue in particular involves the area near the Courthouse fire and rescue station where plans call for a cu-de-sac that will cut off emergency vehicles from a direct westbound path on Courthouse Road.
Shropshire said VDOT is working on ways to make that work.
VDOT officials say the interchange can’t adequately handle current traffic, much less the increased use that will come with new development along Courthouse Road.
There are nine designs for the interchange, including a no-build option. VDOT chose the current preliminary design because it is the second-least expensive and has fewer bridges and traffic lights than the other designs.
At the upgraded interchange, eastbound Route 630 will go over I–95, while the westbound lanes will continue to go under the interstate.
The current configuration of Courthouse Road from U.S. 1 will end just west of the fire and rescue station. Courthouse Road will be rerouted to the south. Moody Drive on the east side of the interstate is shown as a connector road between the old and new Courthouse Road.
Along the new westbound lanes there are plans for a multi-use path for walking and biking.
“It’s way overdue,” Stafford Board of Supervisor member Gary Snellings said at the meeting. “It’ll make a world of difference.”
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436