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Twenty years have passed since plans started for a new Interstate 95 interchange at Courthouse Road in Stafford County.
But the project appears to be on a fast-track now.
The state already has set aside $26 million for preliminary design and studies. And construction could start in late 2014.
Though two decades have passed since the project first came to light, there seems to be plenty of interest in the new interchange plans. Several-dozen people crowded into a Stafford County Government Center conference room Thursday evening to get an update.
They got a chance to see preliminary plans and maps and talk with Virginia Department of Transportation officials about the estimated $175 million project that would replace the current interchange, which was built in 1963, and reroute Courthouse Road.
VDOT says the interchange can't adequately handle current traffic and won't be able to deal with increased use that will come with new development along State Route 630.
There were nine designs for the interchange, including a no-build option.
Project manager Kevin Northridge said VDOT chose the current preliminary design because it is the second-least expensive and has fewer bridges and traffic lights than the other designs.
Also, he said, rerouting Courthouse Road instead of rebuilding it would save millions.
A few people at the meeting found out that they might be losing property along Courthouse Road for the project. Others were interested in learning details and when the new interchange might be finished.
Rusty Rodrick, who lives in North Stafford and uses the Courthouse Road commuter lot twice a week, went to the meeting because he wanted to see where the project stood, especially with new neighborhoods being built west of the current interchange.
"So you're gonna have a massive amount of cars," he said. "In general, it's one of those things you gotta do."
Rodrick, a 43-year-old IRS employee, liked the design, which includes replacing the current commuter lot and building two, one east and one west of the planned interchange.
The preliminary design calls for more changes to the area.
The biggest one would be a rerouted Route 630.
The plans would move the courthouse intersection at U.S. 1 south to the Stafford Hospital.
The sections of Route 630 around the interchange would include three lanes each way, including turn lanes.
The changes are supposed to improve flow around the interchange, Northridge said.
At the upgraded interchange, eastbound Route 630 would go over I-95, while the westbound side would continue to go under the bridge.
The current Courthouse Road could end just west of the fire and rescue station, causing some concerns about response times.
Northridge said VDOT is looking closely at any impact on fire and rescue response times.
A new interchange on Courthouse Road is something Paul Milde has wanted since he joined the Board of Supervisors in 2006.
"It was dead in the water in '06," Milde said. "I'm excited to finally see some progress."
VDOT will hold a public hearing on the project later this year.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436