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Fall Hill widening plan gets backing page 2
Public speaks about Fall Hill widening plan.

Date published: 11/27/2012


The canal bridge also will undergo big changes in a separate project. Work replacing the dilapidated bridge is scheduled to begin early next year and be finished in November, well before the other two projects begin.

The new intersection at Fall Hill Avenue and Mary Washington Boulevard, near the canal, will be a roundabout with three entry points, according to the plans.

Christopher and Erin Bradford, who live in Fredericksburg, were a little concerned about the roundabout, primarily because few drivers understand how to use them. Otherwise, they said they liked what they saw.

They also echoed what others at the meeting said: Traffic on Fall Hill can be bad.

"We're not getting any smaller," said city resident Chris Calamos. "Traffic isn't going to go away."

According to a project brochure handed out at the meeting, Fall Hill Avenue is nearing its capacity and traffic is expected to more than double in the next two decades.

"The projects," said the Virginia Department of Transportation's Kevin Northridge, "will have a positive impact on traffic flow."

The projects also will have an impact on some properties. One is what Fawcett called the Fall Hill Mansion, owned by Barry and Maureen Kefauver. Some of their property, near the road only, will be needed for right of way, Fawcett said, adding that the owners have been "generally supportive."

Part of the project's designs also call for a new Heritage Park apartments entrance, which will run where the basketball court is. The courts will be rebuilt nearby. Also, a partial realignment of Fall Hill will mean the end of the baseball fields across from the 7-Eleven. Those fields probably won't be missed as there is the new Sunshine Ballpark built by the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation nearby.

Issues with the project's funding continue to linger.

The initial estimated cost of the projects, about 10 years old, has risen by nearly $10 million. Funding is short by several million at this point, but officials said they are confident they'll get the necessary funds.

"It's getting smaller," Fredericksburg Council member Matt Kelly said at the meeting, adding that they hope to get money from the state.

Mitch Johnson, with Kimley-Horn and Associates, said right of way acquisition costs and utility and power line relocation are factors in the increased estimate. The new bridge, though, is the major factor, adding some $8 million to the overall costs. Kimley-Horn is the project's design contractor.

Fall Hill will remain open during the project, though there will be disruptions to traffic, Fawcett said.

Fredericksburg has been the lead on the early portion of the project planning, but soon will hand it over to VDOT.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436
Email: sshenk@freelancestar.com

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