The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
TRANSPORTATION: Public weighs in on road plans
Fredericksburg-area residents had their chance to see what’s in the transportation pipeline Wednesday night at one of nine meetings throughout the state.
The meetings also give residents a chance to comment on what they think should be included in the Six-Year Improvement Program, the primary funding mechanism for transportation projects in Virginia.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board will pass the next SYIP in June.
Comments from Wednesday’s meeting could play a role in determining which area projects will be funded in the next SYIP.
Turnout was slight, with 30 people attending Wednesday’s meeting, held at the University of Mary Washington’s Stafford campus off of U.S. 17.
Three people commented at the meeting. Two supported a form of outer connector, one to the west of Interstate 95 and the other to the east.
The other speaker, Spotsylvania’s Rupert Farley, said transportation planners should focus on “congestion pricing,” which is a form of road tolls, and mass transit.
Earlier at the meeting, Andrew Johnson, who lives in North Stafford, noted the I–95 express lanes project on a list of area projects.
“I think this is awesome,” said the 21-year-old Geico employee. “Woodbridge to Stafford is easily two hours on Fridays,” he said.
The I–95 express lanes project is more than half finished. It will extend the HOV lanes in the median from Dumfries to Garrisonville and convert them to electronically tolled lanes. The express lanes should open by early 2015.
That nearly $1 billion public–private partnership project is fully funded.
The next SYIP will devote money to new and planned projects.
Numerous informational stations at the meeting covered details on the SYIP, current local projects like the Falmouth intersection reconstruction, as well as the various modes of transportation that funding goes toward.
Most of the money goes toward road projects. Of the current $15.7 billion SYIP, $11.5 billion is geared toward road projects. Rail and public transportation has $2.9 billion in funding.
After Wednesday’s meeting, Kevin Page, executive director of Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation, pointed out the planned Virginia Railway Express station and new third track in Spotsylvania, which are both fully funded.
“Starting VRE service to Spotsylvania is a big step,” he said.
Anyone who didn’t make it to the meeting can mail or email comments to VDOT.
By mail: Programming Director, Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 East Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219.
By email: six-yearpro firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, VDOT added another comment mechanism called virtual meeting. Visitors at Wednesday’s meeting used the option, which included an interactive map on a flat-screen monitor.
VDOT’s Darrel Johnson used a laptop to guide people around a digital map to find areas they wanted to discuss and helped them add comments that went into the system.
“We’re still getting comments from areas we’ve already been,” Johnson said.
The virtual meeting also is available on VDOT’s website.
SIX YEAR PLAN
What: Area meeting on the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s Six-Year Improvement Program will be held next week in Culpeper.
When: Nov. 18, starting at 6 p.m.
Where: Germanna Community College, Daniel Technology Center, at 18121 Technology Drive in Culpeper
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436