All News & Blogs
Residents get a little rowdy at transportation meeting held by VDOT and Stafford officials
Date published: 8/25/2012
Officials with Stafford County and the highway department went to the Celebrate Virginia lodge Thursday night to give a routine presentation on road projects and how such work gets done.
They ran into a tough crowd.
More than 100 residents from Battleground Estates and 55-and-older subdivisions Celebrate and Falls Run listened quietly during much of the presentation, but eventually several stood and angrily questioned the approach to road improvements.
Virginia Department of Transportation officials and Board of Supervisors' Gary Snellings and Susan Stimpson tried to calm the crowd by explaining the complexities involved with transportation planning and giving details on numerous projects.
Some of their explanations worked, others didn't.
Of particular interest to attendees was the Interstate 95 exit on U.S. 17, an infamous area that regularly backs up for miles, primarily because of traffic jamming into one lane to get on the interstate.
"Widening 17's not going to do much good if you can't get onto 95," said one man to applause. "Why spend the money if you can't get onto 95?"
VDOT officials said the highway's widening is one portion of plans to ease congestion there.
The $50 million project will widen the highway to six lanes from McLane Drive to the entrance of the Stafford Lakes subdivision. Turn lanes also will be added. Work is slated to begin in mid to late 2013, and it could take up to two years to finish.
One man at the meeting said transportation officials often make the mistake of not dealing with "choke point" areas--like the U.S. 17 interchange and the I-95 bridges over the Rappahannock River. Those are the problem, he said, and if they don't fix them the other work won't make a difference.
"It sounds like it's a patchwork thing," said the man, who added that he wasn't "knocking" VDOT because he sees the same problem with other highway departments. "But, doggone it, it doesn't solve the problem."
Snellings told the group there have been plans on the books to fix traffic in the area, once in the form of the old Outer Connector and most recently with the Rest Area Access/Toll Road, now known as the Rappahannock River Crossing.