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Kalahari at Celebrate Virginia Interstate 95 interchange may be needed
By KELLY HANNON
The arrival of a Kalahari water-park resort in Celebrate Virginia could act as a catalyst for a new Interstate 95 interchange near the Fredericksburg Welcome Center.
A toll road could connect to the interchange, acting as a State Route 3 bypass.
Fredericksburg Councilman Matt Kelly is confident that interstate access will be achieved near the Welcome Center.
"It's not whether it will happen, it's how best to do it," said Kelly, who chairs a regional transportation group, the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Kalahari will build a 125,000-square-foot indoor water park on 49 acres of Celebrate Virginia. The resort will have more than 700 guest rooms.
Kalahari's traffic potential will be part of an eight-month study of the interchange and toll road, which Kelly called the "Spotsylvania Greenway."
Kalahari "will be a traffic generator in and of itself, no question about it," said Lloyd Robinson, director of transportation planning at the George Washington Regional Commission in Fredericksburg. He is the project manager for the interchange and toll road study, although he is working closely with the Virginia Department of Transportation, he said.
The study's formal name is an Interchange Justification Report. The Federal Highway Administration requires one to be done before I-95 can be modified.
The federal agency wants to know how building an interchange with northbound and southbound access to Celebrate Virginia would impact traffic flow over the next 20 years.
Professional engineers will be hired to complete the study by fall 2008.
After the study is finished, VDOT will send it the Federal Highway Administration for review at the local, regional and national level.
There is no timeline on how long that could take, Robinson said.
"They will have a very rigorous review. They could take a little while or a year," Robinson said.
Kalahari is expected to open in December 2009.
Consultants to carry out the study were being interviewed yesterday, and Robinson said he expects to recommend a company to FAMPO's board on Monday. FAMPO is a committee of the George Washington Regional Commission.