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Lee Drive controversy continues
Pea gravel was put down on Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg battlefield park, upsetting cyclists and joggers who frequent the area.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Many residents are still fuming over a recent effort to slow traffic by spreading gravel on Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg battlefield.
The National Park Service has responded to the backlash with plans to sweep gravel that isn't compacted into the road.
"I'd like to think that they are now listening to stakeholder comment that they should have received before they started," said Terry Dorn, president of the Fredericksburg Cyclists Club.
Dorn started an online petition last week, shortly after the nearly five-mile Civil War park road off Lafayette Boulevard was covered with tan pea gravel to discourage speeding.
The stones were rolled onto tar, but cyclists and others say all of the loose rocks make the road dangerous.
The petition requests that the National Park Service "immediately remove the loose gravel from Lee Drive, greatly improving its safety and comfort for recreational uses." It had been signed by almost 500 people as of Friday afternoon, according to the petition's website.
Olde Towne Bicycles off State Route 3 in Fredericksburg is collecting signatures in a similar petition, Dorn said.
About 30,000 cars drive on the road every month, and park rangers estimate that more than half of motorists exceed the 30 mph limit.
Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, said he hopes to have all of the loose pea gravel swept off the road before the Cabot Community Tour bicycling event this Saturday.
A subcontractor had initially said that it would be best to wait a month before removing excess gravel to prevent a "gooey slurry" in the summer. The rocks were applied May 16-21.
"We informed the contractor that there are places on the road where there seems to be an overly generous amount of gravel, and that there is a bike event on June 9th that we are concerned about," Smith wrote in an email. At first, he had hoped that traffic alone would embed any loose gravel in the road.
Smith said the subcontractor recently determined that it was OK to clear all of the loose gravel now. Workers started sweeping the road Friday and will continue this week.
WHEREAS Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg Battlefield has been for many years a major attraction for tourists and residents of Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Stafford, to drive, walk, jog and bicycle, or to simply reflect on the sacrifice of our Civil War soldiers, and
WHEREAS "Healthy Parks, Healthy People U.S." is a National Park Service initiative working to foster the health-related role that parks can and do play in our society, and its guiding principles include equitable access, seeking expertise from the private sector and encouraging activities that promote physical, mental and spiritual health, and
WHEREAS Lee Drive is also part of the East Coast Greenway, a federally designated Millennium Trail and also part of U.S. Bike Route 1, a federally designated interstate bicycle route, and
WHEREAS the National Park Service, in violation of its own guiding principles, failed to consult the local community before recently applying asphalt and loose, pea gravel to a recently re-paved Lee Drive, purposefully creating an unsafe condition for cyclists, runners and walkers, alike,
WE THE UNDERSIGNED, request that the National Park Service immediately remove the loose gravel from Lee Drive, greatly improving its safety and comfort for recreational uses, and
ALSO, we request that in accordance with its own guiding principles, that the National Park Service involve the local community before taking future steps that degrade the community's ability to enjoy healthy recreation in its own park.