vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Partial closure of Rocky Run Road for new reservoir worries residents

Logging and burning is being done currently in the site set for Stafford County’s Rocky Pen Run Reservoir, but it’s the future road impacts that worry some residents. Set to open in late spring of 2014, the reservoir could one day hold 5.3 billion gallons of water.

At a town-hall meeting at Rocky Run Elementary School on Thursday night, Hartwood Supervisor Gary Snellings told about two dozen people that “major changes” are now underway around the reservoir. Project manager Bryon Counsell outlined what’s next for the county’s largest public works project.

Ongoing work includes clearing of the 500-acres of wooded land, which was acquired over many years. Stumps will be cut as close to the ground as possible, Counsell said, so no trees will be sticking out of the water. “With the clearing, you’re going to be seeing lots of trucks,” Counsell said. The logging trucks are limited to leaving and entering the site between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., so as not to interfere in rush hour in the already high-traffic area.

Controlled burning, regulated by the fire marshal, is also being done. Residents may see smoke and ash when the winds change.

Future Road Changes

Changes to traffic flow will increase at the beginning of next year, lasting through the fall. For example, Greenbank Road will at times be reduced to one lane as new pipes are installed beneath the road.

But it’s the closure of the middle of Rocky Run Road, which will be flooded over, that causes more concerns about traffic. Two cul-de-sacs will be created at the points where the reservoir replaces the road. Counsell said the earliest this will happen would be November of 2013, but that could be pushed back into 2014 depending on the progression of the project. Weeks of warnings will be issued.

Stafford Lakes Village residents worry about having more cars driving along the 25-mph streets in the neighborhood. Some said that the area is already seeing increased traffic with more development nearby, and that the closure of Rocky Run Road will force their residential roads to become shortcuts.

Part of that problem, said several people at the town-hall and at one in February, would be the lack of a stoplight at the intersection of Holly Corner Road and U.S. 17, an already congested area that could be made worse with the partial closure of Rocky Run Road. Instead, neighbors suspect drivers will travel to the intersection that has a stoplight, where Walmart is located, using Stafford Lakes as a cut-through, on Country Manor and Morningmist Drives.

Marcie Parker of VDOT said a study requested by the county earlier this year concluded that Holly Corner Road intersection didn’t warrant a stoplight at this time. Another study will be done once Rocky Run Road is closed, she said.

See the rest of the story in a few days.