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Fall Hill Avenue project not creating too many issues

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It took only a couple of weeks for me to get over the habit of driving to the closed section of Fall Hill Avenue.

So I’ve had time to check on the alternate routes.

The impact from the Rappahannock Canal Bridge replacement project seems to be relatively minimal so far, which is somewhat surprising.

State Route 3 and U.S. 1 seem to back up more than usual, and not just during rush hour.

More traffic has been using Cowan Boulevard, which is the primary detour. That road seems to be handling it pretty well, but residents along that road say it’s tougher pulling onto Cowan.

The two roads around Mary Washington Hospital, which which funnel to the same intersection with Cowan, seem to be popular cut-throughs, with traffic often backing up into the traffic circle.

We used our fredericksburg.com Facebook page to find out what readers have seen.

One particular response, something most drivers probably haven’t even considered, stood out. It focused on a positive change since Fall Hill closed.

The comment came from Jess Nolan, who lives along one of the neighborhoods used as a cut-through by Fall Hill traffic:

“I live on Hanson Avenue and [it’s] been great. My street is likely the most popular one used to cut from Route 1 to Fall Hill. There used to be no end to the speeding lunatics that would go down my street.

“Now there’s hardly any cars going by. It’s much safer on my street now for all of the people and animals that live here.”

Enjoy that peace and quiet, at least until November, when the bridge work is done and Fall Hill Avenue reopens.

Dear Scott: I noticed in the VDOT Hot Spots feature that the U.S. 1 bridge over Aquia Creek has an estimated completion date of August 2015.

Is this true? Could it really take another 16 months to complete this project?

It seems as if it has been going on for months.

It appears that the northbound lanes are complete and that they are working on the southbound section.

Could you confirm this?

I thought the first time I saw it that it must be a typo, that it should be 2014, but I’ve watched the announcement for several weeks and it always says 2015.

—Beth Daly, Stafford

That’s no typo.

But, as with the canal bridge in Fredericksburg, the Aquia Creek bridge replacement in North Stafford involves some hurdles that lengthened the project.

Here’s what VDOT’s Kelly Hannon said in an email about the project:

“The bridge will take nearly three years to build because keeping all four lanes of Route 1 open had to be our priority. Route 1 is the alternate route for Interstate 95, which is the major East Coast travel corridor. If there was an incident that closed the interstate, more than 140,000 vehicles traveling I–95 a day would be shifted to Route 1. Even on an average day, this segment of Route 1 carries 26,000 vehicles, and this increases on holiday travel periods, and in August, particularly.”

To keep those lanes open, the contractor had to build a temporary bridge.

Crews are working on the new northbound bridge now, and once that’s done will start on the southbound side.

There also are restrictions on working in the water to protect shad in the creek, Hannon said.

While it’s taking a long time, at least the road is open.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com 

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Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2014/04/13/column-fall-hill-project-not-creating-too-many-issues/