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Will ‘Super Ramp’ solve super jams in Massaponax?

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Southbound traffic exits Interstate 95 at Massaponax. A proposed ‘super ramp’ would carry traffic from 95 to the U.S. 17 Bypass.

Southbound traffic exits Interstate 95 at Massaponax. A proposed ‘super ramp’ would carry traffic from 95 to the U.S. 17 Bypass.

The vision for the highways around Spotsylvania County’s Cosner’s Corner has morphed from a gateway to a “super ramp.”

Last week, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors heard details on a possible new approach to help with growing congestion issues in the Massaponax area near Interstate 95.

A project, which would include a super ramp off I–95 and a connector road to the U.S. 17 Bypass, is an alternative to the Jackson Gateway plan.

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The $400 million to $500 million gateway proposal includes interchange improvements and collector–distributor roads along Interstate 95 in the Massaponax area. But the gateway project was recently put on the back burner in favor of other area projects.

Spotsylvania Supervisor Gary Skinner said the county can’t just ignore the congestion around Massaponax.

“This is the number one priority,” said Skinner.

In light of the change in regional road priorities, Skinner said the county needs to look for an alternative that has a chance of getting done.

The super ramp project could get a boost from $2.6 million offered as a proffer by the developer of the proposed 1,060-home Heritage Woods neighborhood off U.S. 1 near Cosner’s Corner.

The developer has offered up to $17.5 million to help with the road projects.

There also is a revenue sharing program, where the county and state would share the cost of the project.

The proposed super ramp project was developed by VDOT officials, who presented it to the board on Tuesday.

A key difference between the Jackson Gateway and the new proposal is the super ramp interchange from I–95 south to Southpoint Parkway near CarMax.

Both plans include an exit, which would allow interstate traffic to get directly onto Southpoint Parkway. But the new proposal also includes a road for traffic to head east and cross over Southpoint Parkway and U.S. 1 and tie into the U.S. 17 Bypass.

This approach would keep some traffic from using U.S. 1, where congestion is a problem.

Also, under the new proposal, the U.S. 17 Bypass would be widened to four lanes and a new bridge over I–95 would be built. There also would be an I–95 exit added at the new bridge.

The project would likely be done in phases, with the super ramp and the U.S. 17 Bypass extension being first.

“I believe each of the ideas presented … were excellent and would offer true relief to our region,” Spotsylvania Supervisor David Ross said of the super ramp plans.

Nothing will happen anytime soon, though.

The design and construction would take at least eight years, according to the VDOT report.

Money, however, remains an issue. Even with the potential of revenue sharing and developer proffers, there is no state or federal money being set aside for construction.

Early estimates put the cost of the super ramp portion of the project at $45 million to $58 million. Factoring in the other phases of the proposal would bring the total to about $200 million.

Skinner broached the idea of paying for the super ramp project with money that would go toward the Rappahannock Parkway, which would relieve traffic on State Route 3.

The proposed bypass is part of the Rappahannock River Crossing project that the majority of the Spotsylvania board opposes. The parkway would run from a new exit at the Virginia Welcome Center on I–95 north of the Route 3 exit and connect to the highway near Gordon Road.

The parkway has been a contentious transportation issue for two years. The state recently stepped in and determined that the Rappahannock River Parkway, and possibly a version of the long-debated Outer Connector west of Fredericksburg, were the best ways to fix congestion along the area’s I–95 corridor.

Skinner said he thinks the county should be able to make its choices about infrastructure needs.

“Let us do what we think is right,” he said.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436