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Brooke Road widening worries farm family

As highway work goes, the project planned for Brooke Road in Stafford County is small in size and cost.

But the plans have prompted a petition and drawn the ire of a landowner, who doesn’t understand why she should lose a chunk of her property for the improvement.

The county plans to work on a 1.8-mile stretch of rural two-lane road near Potomac Creek.

It’s one of numerous back roads listed as dangerous by a 2004 county task force. The county has two other improvement projects, on Mountain View and Poplar roads, from that list in the pipeline.

A hilly and curvy section of Brooke Road is supposed to be fixed by widening, leveling and straightening the stretch from Stagecoach Road to the bridge over Potomac Creek, which is surrounded by wetlands.

That stretch of road passes Alice Stewart’s Unicorn Farm, where she and her family have lived and raised dogs and livestock for 41 years.

Brooke Road in that area is straight, though narrow. Across the road from Stewart’s property there is an expansive piece of farmland with a power line running across it.

The project plans call for taking parts of both properties to widen the road and shoulder and add ditches.

Stewart would lose about 15 feet of frontage and a row of trees her family planted decades ago. The house, which is on 25 acres, is already close to the road.

The 76-year-old Stewart, who raises Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and dairy goats, said she would also have to move the kennels if she loses a chunk of her property.

If the road has to be widened, Stewart and one of her sons, Ranjit Singh, say it doesn’t make sense to move it closer to her home when there was plenty of space on the other side.

Stewart asked county officials why they couldn’t simply take more of the farmland.

“I very much love it here and that’s why I want to make sure they don’t mess up,” said Stewart, who has written a letter to the editor and has a petition against the project as planned signed by 80 people. “They [can] offer me money. I don’t want their money. I don’t want them on my land.”

Stafford officials said the plans haven’t been finalized. County engineers are looking into widening more or all of the realigned Brooke Road on the farmland side.

The county is looking into “feasible alternatives,” said Keith Dayton, Stafford’s deputy administrator. He said costs are a consideration for the project, with an estimated budget of $6.5 million.

Also, he said, the county doesn’t like to put too much of the burden on one landowner when right of way is needed for road projects.

Dayton said they haven’t heard from the owner of the farmland.

Stafford Supervisor Bob Thomas, who visited Stewart to look at the road, said he thinks the alignment could be adjusted.

“I’d be very surprised if that’s not how it ends up,” he said.

Depending on how long it takes to consider design changes, as well as conduct environmental analyses, the project could get under way next year.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

 

BROOKE ROAD CRASHES

According to figures from the Virginia Department of Transportation, there were 37 crashes during a 10-year period on the stretch of Brooke Road in the project area.

None of the crashes, from January 2001 to December 2010, were fatal.

There were 18 people hurt in the crashes, 22 of which involved vehicles running off the road.

2001: 3

2002: 2

2003: 5

2004: 3

2005: 8

2006: 6

2007: 2

2008: 3

2009: 4

2010: 1

—Virginia Department of Transportation

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