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State Route 3 project in Spotsylvania disrupts traffic and cancer treatments.
Widening State Route 3 has led to telecommunication outages in Spotsylvania as construction crews have worked to keep the project on track for a July 2012 completion date. The State Corporation Commission is looking into the issue.
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Date published: 6/14/2011
Construction on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County lengthens many local commutes.
The widening project also delayed cancer treatments for 47 patients.
On June 2, the Mary Washington Regional Cancer Center lost contact with the main hospital after construction crews cut telecommunication lines.
Lines were out for about six hours, and many patients had to reschedule their radiation treatments, said Debbie McInnis, spokeswoman for Mary Washington Healthcare in Fredericksburg.
"Every time the schedule is interrupted, that adds another day to the end of those treatments," McInnis said.
The damage also affected about 500 other homes and businesses in the Chancellor area, said Harry Mitchell, spokesman for Verizon Communications, which owns the lines.
And customers could continue to lose phone and Internet service for the next six months while the road work continues, water and sewer lines are relocated and data lines are replaced.
While there's no easy fix for this project, officials hope that a change in state policy will prevent future projects from being plagued by cut lines.
Officials from Spotsylvania County, Verizon, Mary Washington Healthcare and Henderson Construction Co., will testify before the State Corporation Commission on July 6.
"They probably won't be able to help me now," said Becky Golden, capital projects director for Spotsylvania County. "I'm just hoping they'll be able to help in the future."
Henderson Construction's equipment has twice hit telecommunications lines, Golden said. But it isn't so easy to place the blame.
The issue lies with a bundle of lines under Route 3, state contract rules, construction methods and a change in the project schedule.
The problem actually began decades ago, when utility lines were placed very close to the edge of Route 3, a practice called "riding the right of way."
As technology improved, new lines were installed over the old ones. So there are now some 20 lines under the side of the road.
"Over the years, Route 3 has become a superhighway of traffic," Golden said. "It's also a superhighway of telecommunications."
The vast jumble of lines makes it hard to locate the active wires, Golden said. Additionally, some of those lines are not buried as deeply as required, making it easier to hit them during construction.