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Consultant picked to study I-95 interchange
Consultant hired to study new Interstate 95 interchange near the Fredericksburg Welcome Center

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Date published: 11/20/2007

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

A consultant has been hired to complete a study of a proposed Interstate 95 interchange near the Fredericksburg Welcome Center in the wake of news about the arrival of a Kalahari water-park resort in Celebrate Virginia.

At its meeting last night, the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization approved Pennsylvania-based engineering management firm Michael Baker Jr. Inc. to complete the study by fall 2008.

The cost of the work, not to exceed $400,000, will be shared by the Virginia Department of Transportation, FAMPO and the Celebrate Virginia Community Development Authority.

"This is a long time coming, and I appreciate everyone's cooperation in making this happen," Spotsylvania County Supervisor and FAMPO member Hap Connors said at the meeting.

A toll road could connect to the interchange, acting as a State Route 3 bypass.

After the study is finished, VDOT will send it to the Federal Highway Administration for review at the local, regional and national levels. There's no timeline for that process.

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.

"I want the public to understand that we are all looking at the growth in the region and are trying to anticipate the needs," said Fredericksburg Councilman Matt Kelly, who chairs FAMPO.

Kalahari will build a 125,000-square-foot indoor water park on 49 acres of Celebrate Virginia.

The resort also will include a 10-story hotel with 900 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of conference space. It is expected to open in December 2009.

Kalahari's traffic potential will be part of the eight-month study of the interchange and toll road, which Kelly has called the "Spotsylvania Greenway."

Michael Baker Jr. Inc. was one of four consultants that applied for the job. The others were Wilbur Smith Associates, PBS&J and URS.

A five-member selection committee unanimously recommended Michael Baker after interviews with each firm last Friday.

In other business last night, FAMPO voted to add $225,000 to fully fund a $300,000 study on Lafayette Boulevard's needed long-term improvements.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com