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VDOT still has traffic concerns about proposed Spotsy raceway

RELATED: See complete coverage of the Dominion Raceway

MORE: Read more Spotsylvania County news

RELATED:Dominion Raceway to sponsor car at Richmond race

The Virginia Department of Transportation continues to have concerns about the proposed Dominion Raceway, based on a letter submitted to Spotsylvania County this week.

But it won’t decide on the raceway’s proposed entrance until after the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors votes on the developer’s request for a rezoning and special-use permit.

VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said that the state agency wants to know exactly what transportation improvements the raceway would make before it takes up the entrance request again.

“It sounds like that’s still very much under discussion,” she said.

The raceway must have VDOT’s approval because its proposed entrance on Mudd Tavern Road is closer to Interstate 95 ramps than guidelines allow. In February, a VDOT official issued a memo saying she could not approve the entrance until the raceway addressed a host of questions and concerns.

The developer has not resubmitted its entrance request to VDOT, but it did complete an updated traffic study earlier this month.

Angela Foroughi, the transportation and land use director for VDOT’s Fredericksburg District, responded to that revised study on Wednesday.

She wrote in a letter that she’s still concerned about traffic backups blocking other commercial entrances and impacting I–95 ramps.

And Foroughi says lines of cars waiting to turn left into the raceway’s entrance could be longer than has been reported.

If the county approves the raceway, she added, VDOT proposes that the left-turn lane into the entrance be temporary until further interchange upgrades.

“We may want to see a different traffic pattern if larger improvements were going to be made,” said Hannon of VDOT.

Foroughi mentioned the possibility of having eastbound traffic on Mudd Tavern Road go past the entrance and then reverse direction east of the site.

The Coalition to Preserve the Thornburg Countryside, which was formed late last year to oppose the raceway, has expressed concerns that taxpayers—not the developer—would have to pay for traffic improvements.

Fredericksburg attorney Charlie Payne, who represents the raceway, said in an email Thursday that VDOT’s concerns could be “reasonably” addressed with the raceway’s proposed traffic improvements.

The raceway has offered to design and construct another route to its proposed entrance if the left-turn lane causes too many backups. It has also come up with a traffic management plan for events that draw at least 2,000 people in the development’s first year of operation.

A raceway consultant has said it expects 98 percent of events to draw fewer than 2,000 spectators.

Payne said the developer looks forward to future improvements at the Thornburg I–95 exit, which he said would further economic development and benefit nearby property owners and businesses.

“Our property cannot be fully developed, other than mainly the racetrack activities, until there are overall interchange improvements in place,” Payne said. Other potential development includes a hotel and a restaurant.

Raceway developer Steve Britt hopes to open the facility in spring 2014 on 160 acres at the northeast corner of the Thornburg exit off I–95. If built, it will include an oval track for stock-car racing, a drag strip and a road course.

The county has yet to schedule public hearings on the raceway’s request for a rezoning and special-use permit.

Spotsylvania supervisors recently approved the developer’s request for amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The changes make the development compatible with the plan, a long-term guide for growth in the county.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402