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Road jam drives us to misery
We have no one to blame but ourselves, and developers and elected officials, for our worsening traffic woes

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 9/19/2004

By RICHARD AMRHINE

I AM WORRIED about the upcoming holiday season, but not about what to get for whom. Getting to and from local stores, that's got me concerned.

For the first 14 holiday seasons I've lived here, traffic has been at its worst--and has gotten progressively worse each year--in the weeks before Christmas. Even before there was a Central Park, December traffic along Spotsylvania County's State Route 3 corridor was horrid. Last year, on the weekends that preceded Christmas, Carl D. Silver Parkway was a virtual parking lot from morning to night.

Of course it's not just a holiday problem, it's a constant problem. Weekdays, weekends, whenever. It is unspeakable what has been allowed to happen here. Even our guests from Northern Virginia, who should be accustomed to traffic congestion, wonder why it's so awful here. After decades of seeing the inevitable unfold before us, we have procrastinated to the point that the quality of life that brought so many people here has been squandered. It's probably still around here somewhere, you just have to drive farther and farther to find it.

I'm motivated to write this by the recent story reporter Edie Gross wrote about a new plan to relieve traffic congestion along Route 3 ["State Route 3 bypass floated in Spotsylvania," Sept. 9]. There were several telling quotes in the story that offer insight into why the problem is as bad as it is and why it will get only worse.

First, development that is designed to draw traffic occurs without concern for the traffic it will generate.

Back in 2002, for example, the Silver Cos. proposed a new Interstate 95 interchange for its Celebrate Virginia project. The idea died after the company learned that it would have to make a series of road improvements before the Federal Highway Administration would consider it.

"I think time will prove that not having an interchange is a mistake. But we've decided to move forward without it," said Jud Honaker, a top Silver Cos. executive.

Move forward without it. So the company knows that Celebrate Virginia threatens to present a traffic nightmare, just as it had to expect that Central Park traffic would overwhelm the system of roads in and around it, which it has. But that, in the end, is someone else's problem.


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