Route 630 commuter lot design

Proposed design of State Route 630’s widening and interchange work, including layout of new commuter lots.

The new year ushered in the lowest national average gas price in three years, at $2.25 for a gallon of regular.

In Virginia, the average price was $1.92, lower by 34 cents than a year ago, according to AAA, which reported those figures late last week. The auto club compared gas prices from the three previous New Year’s Days:

  • 2018: $2.49
  • 2017: $2.35
  • 2016: $1.99

It’s nice to see a reversal of increasing prices at the pump. Whether it continue is anybody’s guess.

AAA notes there is an overabundance of crude oil on the market, which means lower gas prices. However, if OPEC cuts its output, prices could rise.

Switching gears, this week we have a question about dealing with a work zone issue.

The major work on the State Route 630 widening and interchange reconstruction in Stafford County has resulted in the usual headaches for drivers navigating work zones. A reader recently pointed out two issues related to the construction.

The first question focuses on the temporary commuter lot on Route 630. The other issue will be addressed in an upcoming column.

Dear Scott: The old State Route 630 commuter lot on Courthouse Road in Stafford was moved down to where the McDonalds use to be. If you visit the county website, it indicates that a “temporary signal is activated at the intersection—easier for drivers to enter & exit the new location.”

The problem is the temporary signal is not easier for drivers to enter and exit the new location.

The entrance to the commuter lot (there is one to the left and one to the right of the incoming road) is on a hill. The exit from each commuter lot is also on a hill. There is a lot of traffic that comes down this road, including a lot of big trucks.

Coming out of the commuter lots, it is difficult to see vehicles coming from the road behind the light. It is also difficult to see commuter vehicles leaving the lot at night to get to the light at Courthouse Road.

It would be better if they used the entrance that was originally there from McDonald’s, which is on a flat surface.

It is only a matter of time before someone hits another vehicle head-on coming out of the two lots or a vehicle is T-boned by a big rig coming from the road between the two lots from behind the Courthouse Road light.

Can this be rectified to move the “temporary” light to a flatter surface before 2020 when this construction is supposed to be done?

—Dawn Walter, Locust Grove

Like the signal, the current lot design is temporary, local Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said.

She added that when all the work is done in 2020, getting to and from the expanded lots “will be much smoother than it is today.” VDOT has an online map showing the design plans.

Hannon pointed out that many obstacles around the lot—Interstate 95 ramps; driveways and other entrances/exits; Wyche Road—create safety issues that preclude opening another entrance or moving the signal.

“The lot is in the safest possible configuration to keep the commuter parking lot open, available and still convenient to the interstate,” Hannon said.

As for the hills getting to and from the lot, Hannon noted that Wyche Road leads to VDOT’s Stafford Area Headquarters maintenance facility, “and crews will treat this incline to reduce icing and improve traction during the winter months.”

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