I-95 Bypass in Stafford Would End in Orange, Where Major Development Eyed
– August 20, 2013 11:44 am
STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – Plans for a Fredericksburg bypass show drivers would be able to exit Interstate 95 in Stafford County, cross the Rappahannock River, and end up in Orange County.
Once off I-95, drivers would connect with the new bypass via U.S. 17 near the Celebrate Virginia complex in Stafford County, head south on a planned Berea Parkway, cross the Rappahannock into the Culpeper County, and then exit the bypass at a terminus near Va. 20 in Orange County.
Stafford officials were briefed on the first stages of the proposal for building the new road by Spotsylvania County Deputy County Administrator and House of Delegates Republican Mark Cole. Endorsed by Spotsylvania County officials, Phase I of the 12-mile highway would run entirely outside Spotsylvania, have four lanes, and would alleviate traffic on congested I-95 in Fredericksburg, on the highway’s busy Rappahannock Falls Bridge, and on U.S. 1 which serves as a bailout route for drivers on I-95.
“This would give everyone in the I-95 corridor a relief valve, where they desperately need one” said Cole.
A Phase II of the project could be built in Spotsylvania County and would allow drivers to reconnect with I-95. Officials also said the bypass would allow trucks bound for Charlottesville faster access to Va. 20.
But Stafford Rockhill Supervisor Cord Sterling, who serves on Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board, said truckers are more likely to use U.S. 29 to get to Charlottesville, not I-95 or a roadway that connects to it.
Sterling also questioned what traffic impacts the roadway have an an already congested Va. 3 in Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg.
“I don’t see an incentive to take traffic on I-95 only to put them out at Route 20 in Orange, they would have to take
Route 3 back to 95, and that would put the traffic back in your court,” Sterling told Cole.
But the area where the road could terminate, in Orange County’s Wilderness area at the popular Lake of the Woods subdivision, might soon be a destination if Orange County officials have their way. While the area is 70 miles away from Washington, D.C., officials say the corner has “phenomenal” potential to house manufacturing and commercial industries because of it’s access to several transportation hubs.
Planning for any development is still in its infancy, zoning is still be worked out, and no companies have yet been courted to set up shot in the area, but there is a notion that this may become the county’s economic juggernaut.
“We really wanted to do something with landowners, existing businesses, and the county as whole, to create a live, work, and play concept that has a higher standard of development,” said Orange County Administrator Julie Summs. “We’re looking for something along the lines of an economic engine, an education generator with our access to Germanna Community College, and we see something that has a town center, a conference center, and something that is well integrated with historical areas already in the region.”
Orange County was the scene of a bitter development dispute between residents who wanted to preserve the area as a Civil War battlefield and Walmart, which wanted to construct a nearly 140,000 square-foot store in the area on Va. 3. After years of controversy, Walmart found a second nearby site on which to build on Va., and opted for somewhat smaller floorplan.
Officials in Spotsylvania County will need to work to build a regional consensus for the proposed bypass, and chose the Stafford County Board of Supervisors for the first leg of their consensus-building tour that will include leaders in Culpeper and Orange counties, and Fredericksburg.