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Culpeper County given update on road projects

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Culpeper County residents couldn’t find much to complain about Monday night at VDOT’s six-year road improvement plan meeting for the Culpeper District.

Those who attended the meeting found that most of the big projects they had sought for more than a decade were about to become reality.

They also found that motorists should get set for some major delays during the next several years.

Four major projects, including a $30.1 million interchange at the junction of U.S. 29 and State Route 666 (near Eastern View High School), will begin to take shape in 2014.

According to VDOT utility program manager Mike Heflin, right-of-way acquisition has already begun for the Route 666 interchange and should be completed by September of next year. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2015.

Right-of-way acquisition has been completed for the five-lane widening of State Route 229 (North Main Street) from Fairview Road to the northern town limits, and utility relocation will begin in about eight weeks.

As part of the project, which was originally to have been completed prior to 1997, the intersection at Grand View Avenue will be reconfigured and the southbound entrance—in front of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church—will be closed permanently.

A roundabout near Wendy’s will also be part of that project and will connect to the inner loop, which is being funded and built by the town.

VDOT is hoping to get the go-ahead next week to start buying the right of way for the western outer loop (State Route 784). That $14 million project (county revenue-sharing funds are already in place) will connect Ira Hoffman Lane with the Sperryville Pike.

A contract was awarded last month to complete the widening of State Route 3 into a four-lane highway. Construction should start on that next year, and when completed, Route 3 will be a four-lane highway from Culpeper to Fredericksburg.

Joanne Russell, the county’s lone speaker at Monday’s meeting, urged VDOT to include a caution light at the intersection of Route 3 and Route 663 in the hamlet of Stevensburg.

“We are very concerned about safety at that intersection,” Russell said.

It was also learned at Monday’s meeting that a stoplight will be installed on U.S. 29 at Mountain Run Lake Road, at the 7–Eleven store about 4 miles south of town.

Culpeper District Administrator John Lynch told those assembled that many of the improvements in the six-year plan were a direct result of funds made available through Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation bill.

“We’re seeing historic times here in the commonwealth with the passage of that transportation bill,” he said.

Steve Pittard, chief financial officer of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, added that McDonnell’s bill has been a blessing to rail travel in the state.

“Before, we didn’t have a permanent funding source,” Pittard said. “Now we have that.”

Donnie Johnston: