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More on Harrison Connector Road

Two letters between VDOT and county staff were recently e-mailed to me. Slightly outdated, but still newsworthy.

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Virginia Department of Transportation Attn: David Ogle, District Administrator 87 Deacon Road Fredericksburg, VA 22405

Re: Transportation Committee Request

Dear Mr. Ogle:

On behalf of the Spotsylvania County Transportation Committee, this letter is being submitted to you requesting that you and your staff review and provide a written response to the comments and questions that Mr. Doug Craig raised in the attached e-mail dated May 25,2007.

At the June 5, 2007 Transportation Committee meeting, the committee members discussed the e-mail and unanimously voted that I submit a written request to you so that you and your technical staff could review the comments and questions raised by Mr. Craig. The Committee would like a written response to whether the comments and questions that Mr. Craig raises about the Harrison Connector Road along 1-95, future CD lanes, and an exit from 1-95 to the connector road is feasible, what actions would need to be taken, and a projected cost.

On behalf of the Spotsylvania County Transportation Committee, thank you and your staff for addressing this request and providing a written response. If you have any questions, please contact me at (540) 507-7440.

Sincerely,

Rodney J. White Transportation Planner

Enclosure: Doug Craig e-mail dated Fri. May 25, 2007

On 5/22/2007 we attended the update of the subject project, given by the Cafaro Company to the BOS. Some thoughts:

The VDOT objection to the location of the Connector Road beside 1-95 rang hollow in that no plans to widen this section are imaginable within the next 15 -20 years… too many higher priority projects and scarce funds. Also Central Park construction as well as the Cafaro plans and grading on their property already have encroached upon the area needed to expand two lanes on 1-95. The overpasses and relocation of the Exit 130A&B ramps and the proximity of stores in Central Park for additional lanes are costly problems. We (the County) are in fact paying for this road (with future tax rebates to the Cafaro Companies and zoning approvals) and we desperately need relief at the RT 3 and Massaponox interchanges…..those rush hour backups on 1-95 at the exits are getting more dangerous daily. We are now in the road building business and we don’t need VOOT approval except for conforming to construction standards. SO….. How about choosing the option for the Harrison Road Connector road along 1-95 and negotiating an exit from 1-95 to this road and make it a true Connector and a viable option for reducing backup traffic at RT 3 as well as Exit 126 at Massaponox? Costs for an exit would be minimal and we would reap a tremendous payback. VDOT could use some good publicity with their endorsement of this exit. But if they don’t buy it right away….”if you build it, they will come”. The present delay trying to make option #1 work and the delays in construction and needed environmental studies make for higher County costs. Also, the needed purchases of property and impact upon citizens by completing option #1 will be substantial. What do you think Mark? Jerry? Ms. Carter? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity on a par with an exit at the rest stop on 1-95, except we have a funded road. It would be a win-win for VDOT with little cost (none if the CDA funds…hell make it a toll exit like in Richmond) and the County would benefit immensely for years to come. Additional motivation in our subdivisions adjacent to the presently favored alignment is to keep a 50 mph rated 4 lane highway with no planned buffering from coming within 300 feet of our properties. We also need to protect and keep the current noise-buffering vegetation and trees from being removed like they have done at the Mall. The cut-through traffic in Maple Grove which VDOT has promised to alleviate will also be greatly lessened. Just minor stuff that is mentioned in the Comprehensive Plan and relates to quality of life in our County. Just some thoughts.They may make too much sense to be viable. However, any consideration you may give this proposal is greatly appreciated. Doug Craig 786-xxxx Govt. Affairs Committee

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It took more than a month for VDOT to reply, but here it is:

Dear Mr. White:

You asked that we comment on the Spotsylvania County Transportation Committee concerns raised by Mr. Craig regarding the Spotsylvania Town Center Connector Road. The VDOT objection to the location of the connector road beside Interstate 95 is a valid concern. While there are no definite plans, there are numerous studies underway to improve the capacity of Interstate 95. Additional encroachment near the existing limited access line would create expensive issues for VDOT to solve when Interstate 95 is improved. In the 40+ year history of 1-95, this road has been built and re-built, and is in serious need of additional attention at this time. We all recognize the capacity problems that exist and most of us support improvement. Mr. Lee’s statement to the Board of Supervisors indicated that, at this time, VDOT is not in a position to dictate the location of the connector road; however, we would discourage the location adjacent to the limited access line to reduce future costs. VDOT is well aware of the rush-hour back-ups on Interstate 95 at Route 3 and Route 1. Construction work will begin within the next 30 days to reduce the back up at Exit 126, Route 1. In addition, FAMPO has requested an Interchange Justification Study for a new exit somewhere in the City of Fredericksburg to help relieve the Route 3 Interchange. Also, the comment that the County was “now in the road building business and don’t need VDOT approval, ..” is incorrect. Any work done within the state right of way or on a roadway that will be taken into the state maintained system must be coordinated with VDOT through a County/State Agreement. The comment concerning choosing the option of the Harrison Road Connector Road and negotiating an exit from Interstate 95 to this road would be a difficult option. As you know, all new exits from Interstate 95 must meet Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approval and  must not degrade the operation of the Interstate system. I doubt seriously  if the FHWA would approve an additional interchange without the addition of collector distributor roads. Also, the statement was made “the cost for an exit would be minimal.” The cost at the Centrepoint exit in Stafford for a partial interchange was $62 million. The estimated cost for the new 630 Stafford interchange exceeds $185 million. In summary, the decision as to the location of the Connector road belongs to the County and the Cafaro Company. We all agree that traffic in the area needs substantial help, but VDOT cannot support construction that would greatly increase the cost of upgrading Interstate 95. We look forward to working together as a team with the County, the Transportation Committee, and the developers to come to a reasonable solution.

Sincerely,

D. E. Ogle District Administrator

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I am working on a story now that should run sometime this week about a meeting two supervisors had with Ogle Tuesday afternoon. I am trying to reach several people to find out what exactly was discussed, but I know it was about the connector road. Supervisors are facing a lot of opposition over the current alignment Cafaro has picked. And, recently we published a story that revealed county officials have little power over where the road will go, according to the proffer agreement.

I guess they can use friendly persuasion.

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