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Group approves Spotsy road plan

MORE: Read more Spotsylvania County news

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The proposed toll road parkway again dominated most of the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s monthly meeting Monday.

The conversation was less heated than it was last month, but Spotsylvania representative David Ross was again the primary member pushing his case against the toll road, which has been a cause of simmering tension on the board for more than a year. He had support from fellow Spotsylvania FAMPO members and a contingent of River Road residents who would be impacted if the toll road were built.

The 4-mile toll road is part of a bigger project totaling about $300 million now known as the Rappahannock River Crossing; its name was changed last year as FAMPO’s members argued over the project. The plan includes interchange improvements at U.S. 17 in Stafford and feeder roads alongside I–95 from that exit to the State Route 3 exit in Spotsylvania.

The discussion last month and Monday night revolved around whether the toll road could be split from the rest of the project or even removed entirely from the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan, which was on the FAMPO agenda.

FAMPO delayed voting on the long-range plan last month because of the toll road issue, but voted Monday to approve the plan, and to keep the toll road in it.

Ross made an alternative motion to remove the toll road from the plan. Fellow Spotsylvania Supervisor Gary Skinner and county Administrator Doug Barnes voted with him on that motion, but it failed.

They were alone in voting against the motion that included the toll road in the plan.

The discussion about the toll road included concerns that if it eventually is canceled, the George Washington Toll Road Authority would have to pay back more than $600,000 already spent on studies.

That probability was not popular among any of the FAMPO board members, but was something they agreed could happen.

The members who voted to keep the toll road in the plan said removing it would have a negative effect on other regional road projects.

Not approving the long-range plan, which includes many projects amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, would be even worse, according to FAMPO Administrator Lloyd Robinson, who said such a move would “cripple” the region’s ability to spend federal funds on road projects.

Even with the toll road in the plan, nothing is imminent. No more money is being spent on it, and study and engineering work has stopped.

Cord Sterling, Stafford County supervisor and a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, said that even with the toll road still in the project, none of that work would start and no money will be spent again until 2016.

That gives Spotsylvania time to come up with an alternative.

He and other FAMPO board members said they are open to working with Spotsylvania to find that alternative.

Ross said he thinks keeping the toll road on the long-range plan will continue to cause friction on the board, “and I’d like it not to.”

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436