You can’t get there from here.

That’s just one frustration some Stafford County residents might feel because of a lack of sidewalks in several areas of the county.

“Just drive up Route 1 from Fredericksburg to Garrisonville Road and you will see many beautiful sidewalk initiatives come to complete dead ends,” said Stephen Kline, who has lived in Stafford for 16 years. “Too bad they serve absolutely no useful purpose, but to meet some local building code for new construction.”

Jessy Castro, another Stafford resident who lives on Greenridge Drive, said it’s “extremely dangerous” going for walks in her neighborhood.

As cars zip by, Castro said there are no sidewalks to keep her, her children and her dog safely out of harm’s way.

“There isn’t a single light, or a sidewalk, on my road,” Castro said. “At least they could put a sidewalk on one side of the street, that would be a blessing.”

Although many of the county’s newer housing developments do include sidewalks, some of them simply end abruptly, not connected to any type of broader, comprehensive pedestrian network.

Cherryview Landing is a proposed 71-townhouse community that will be built in the vicinity of Musselman Road and Krieger Lane in Stafford.

The new neighborhood is getting a sidewalk, but once residents venture out of the neighborhood and reach U.S. 17, that’s where they are forced to use a narrow dirt path between Short Street and Lendall Lane that materialized after years of pedestrian traffic along the busy thoroughfare.

A roadway safety proposal to upgrade the area—which included sidewalks—fell short on scoring when it came to the approval process.

Kelly Hannon, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Fredericksburg District communications manager, confirmed the George Washington Regional Commission did submit a Smart Scale application for a $21.8 million improvement in the U.S. 17 business area, but the project was not recommended for funding.

Smart Scale funds are distributed based on the evaluation of projects to determine how effective the improvement will be in helping the state achieve its transportation goals.

“The project will eventually get funding, the question is when and how,” said Jeff Harvey, Stafford County’s director of planning and zoning. “There’s only so much funding to go around, so when you have to compete for it, it gets to be a little tough.”

Stafford Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer said he believes a government’s No. 1 priority is to provide safety to its citizens, but admits, “There are a lot of places where we’re not doing that.”

“Like everything else, it’s a matter of money and priorities,” he added. “It’s a matter of prioritizing all the sidewalks, the streets, the schools. It all comes out of the same pot of money.”

While the politics of sidewalks trudges on, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office reports 19 “pedestrian struck” calls so far in 2019.

On Aug. 17, a 65-year-old pedestrian was struck by a vehicle near North Stafford High School.

According to witnesses, the man was thrown into the air and fell back to the ground, suffering serious head injuries. Residents provided first aid to the man until emergency responders arrived.

Nearby resident Michael Parkyn, a retired Marine, arrived at the scene of that accident moments after it happened.

“This didn’t happen in a rural area,” said Parkyn. “It didn’t happen at night. The victim was walking from North Stafford High School when he was struck in broad daylight.”

Parkyn is concerned that North Stafford High School, now 38 years old, is still inaccessible to pedestrians. However, school officials report a plan to realign Wolverine Way that includes pedestrian safety improvements and sidewalks. The project is in the school’s budget.

Additional relief for that portion of the county will come as the next phase of Garrisonville Road widening takes place between Eustace and Shelton Shop roads.

“Every time we rebuild a section of Garrisonville Road, we put sidewalk in it—so we have sidewalk extending from I–95 to all the way out to Eustace Road right now,” said Harvey.

The county is also in the process of approving plans for Patriot’s Crossing—a mixed-use, commercial development, situated on nearly 24 acres of land adjacent to North Stafford High School.

“They’re going to provide sidewalks along their entire [Patriot’s Crossing] frontage to tie into sidewalk being built at North Stafford High School, but there will be a gap between North Stafford High School and Parkway Boulevard,” said Harvey. “That’s where the existing office building is, so that may be one where if the county has funds and if it becomes a high enough priority, we could build that missing gap.”

Harvey also cites the Courthouse Road interchange and the widening at the Stafford County Courthouse as projects that will provide extended mobility options to pedestrians.

“Eventually, you’ll have people who can walk from Colonial Forge High School all the way to the courthouse,” Harvey said.

A public hearing will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. in which the Board of Supervisors will seek public input on an upgraded bicycle and pedestrian facilities plan.

According to Harvey, the original 1996 plan identified the lack of bike and pedestrian facilities in the county in general, as well as the need to construct those amenities. The county also adopted standards to require sidewalks in the plans for new developments.

Harvey said the last big round of sidewalk upgrades in the county occurred around 2008, when several sidewalk connections were made in the Garrisonville area.

The proposed new plan puts an emphasis on connecting existing sidewalk segments that have been constructed since then, as well as expanding the network to include attractions such as parks, boat landings and other recreational areas.

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James Scott Baron: 540/374-5438

jbaron@freelancestar.com

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