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Traffic woes will take toll page 2
Traffic congestion has become a local embarrassment.

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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 5/18/2003

By RICHARD AMRHINE

continued

A larger issue, however, is the highway that bisects our city and our region: Interstate 95. If you think it's bad now, consider 20 years or so down the road. A VDOT study projects that traffic on I-95 in the Fredericksburg region will leap 75 to 80 percent by 2025. It assumes that by then, the highway will be widened by two lanes to four lanes in each direction. In other words, 33 percent more lanes, 75 percent more traffic.

When the interstate system was being planned and built, planners may have considered the development that would spring up around its interchanges over the next half-century, but decisions about that fell into the hands of woefully unprepared local governments. Not only is I-95 the nation's primary East Coast north-south corridor, it is Main Street for every community in its path along the way.

So what's the impact on us?

In rapidly growing areas such as ours, dependence on I-95 has become a recipe for disaster. Because of inadequate planning on overburdened local arteries such as State Route 3 and U.S. 17, those interchanges have become a source of spillover congestion onto I-95. While locals may become inured to the aggravation, motorists just trying to pass through will remember the Fredericksburg region as little more than a bottleneck to avoid.

Clearly, Interstate 95 traffic is causing many of us to alter our plans and our lifestyles. If you travel at all between here and Washington, particularly on the weekends, you can assume that your trip will take you up to twice as long as it should.

It recently took my sister and her family four hours to reach Fredericksburg from Baltimore, where our mom still lives. It should be a two-hour trip. They live in northern New Jersey and often travel into New York City. They say the traffic is never nearly as bad up there as it is along the I-95 corridor in Virginia.

Have you considered the implications for our area that the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the improved "mixing bowl" hold? You don't need to be a plumber to figure out that if you remove the clog in one place, it will simply get hung up again at the next spot where the flow is already slow.


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