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VDOT holds public information meeting on six-year plan for Culpeper area
By DONNIE JOHNSTON
Culpeper County officials should be getting about half of what they asked the Virginia Department of Transportation for at Thursday night's six-year road plan meeting.
County planner John Egerston told VDOT that completing the final four-lane section of State Route 3 (including the Stevensburg bypass) and building an interchange on U.S. 29 at State Route 666 (near Eastern View High School) were the county's top primary road priorities.
VDOT Culpeper District administrator Jim Utterback told the gathering of county officials and interested citizens that the Route 3 project is fully funded and that a contract should be awarded about this time next year.
Supervisors Chairman Bill Chase pleaded with Utterback to make sure that VDOT gives the Route 3/Route 663 intersection in Stevensburg special consideration.
"There are farm vehicles, tractor-trailers, horse trailers and cars turning there," Chase said, who represents that magisterial district. "We want to make sure that intersection is as safe as possible."
Utterback added that the right-of-way portion of the U.S. 29/666 diamond interchange has been funded but as of yet there is no construction money. Hopefully, the full $26 million for the project will be available in 2014.
While Culpeper seemed to make out well, Louisa wasn't so lucky. County Supervisor Willie Gentry told VDOT that Route 208, which leads from Mineral into Spotsylvania, needs much upgrading to handle the increasing amount of traffic heading for the Fredericksburg area.
"I wish Mr. [Commonwealth Transportation Board representative Jim] Rich and Mr. Utterback would come over and take a look at it," Gentry said.
Rich had some good news and bad news for the Culpeper District. He said that federal funding was aiding some primary road projects but that funding for secondary road construction and maintenance was practically nonexistent.
Saying that 54 percent of VDOT money now goes to Northern Virginia, Rich added, "We want to make sure [the Culpeper District] is not forgotten."
VDOT deputy commissioner Charles Kilpatrick said, however, that there is about $200 million in revenue sharing funds available to localities this year.
Culpeper County is applying for $1 million, which officials intend to use to upgrade several rural roads.
Kilpatrick added that most federal money used for construction requires only a 20 percent match from the state.
Utterback told those assembled that the 6.2-mile, $244 million Charlottesville bypass on U.S. 29 is on track to be completed by 2016. He added that another 1.1 miles of 29 just north of the bypass (toward Culpeper) will be improved to six lanes at a cost of $32 million.
After gathering public input from around the state, VDOT will create a six-year road plan that will be acted upon by the Commonwealth Transportation Board next May.