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Traffic study issues raised
Plaintiffs' transportation expert faults Walmart traffic analysis for Wilderness retail center

The Orange Walmart battle
Date published: 10/15/2010


Traffic predictions for a Walmart in the Wilderness battlefield area are gravely flawed, according to a new analysis by a transportation planner hired by plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to stop construction of the store.

Dane R. Ismart of Orlando, Fla., a retired Federal Highway Administration official with 40 years' experience, crunched the data in a consultant's traffic report for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and faults its major conclusions.

The retail center planned for eastern Orange County, anchored by a Walmart Supercenter, will cause more congestion, delays and safety hazards on State Routes 3 and 20 than predicted by Walmart's consultant, Ismart concluded.

Orange County Attorney Sharon Pandak declined to comment yesterday afternoon on the plaintiffs' most recent court filings, saying, "I'm not going try my case in the press."

Traffic is a major issue in opponents' lawsuit seeking to overturn Orange County's 2009 decision to permit the 240,000-square-foot retail center a quarter-mile north of Route 3, near Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

The plaintiffs are the local nonprofit Friends of Wilderness Battlefield and six nearby residents. Orange County, Walmart, the landowner and the developer are defendants in the lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial in January.

A summary of Ismart's testimony was released upon The Free Lance-Star's request to an attorney for the plaintiffs. The transportation expert, who teaches VDOT officials and local planners in Virginia, reported that:

The Walmart center will substantially increase Route 3 traffic turning left into Lake of the Woods, but the county didn't require improvements to receive that traffic as it enters the gated community. Two turn lanes, required by Orange, will have to merge into a single gate-controlled lane, causing traffic to back up to Route 3.

VDOT expressed concern about the problem, which Board of Supervisors Chairman Lee Frame asked the agency about in late July 2009, but the board didn't require the developer to address it.

Due to the development, congestion at the Route 3/Route 20 intersection will get worse, even with transportation improvements committed to by Walmart.

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