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Public can offer road ideas
Reader thinks Harrison Road needs a major makeover. There's a meeting Monday night where residents, and officials, can tell state transportation leaders what should be done to improve area transportation.

Date published: 12/3/2012

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By Scott Shenk

MEETINGS, espe- cially after a long day at work, are not high on anyone's list.

But there's an important one tonight at Massaponax High School.

This meeting, one of several statewide, focuses on the state's Six-Year Improvement plan for transportation projects.

Key decision-makers will be at the meeting, and what they hear can determine which major transportation projects get done.

For more, keep reading, as the answer to the below question includes the details.

Dear Scott: I am a little discouraged by the new paving of Harrison Road.

Discouraged, because I have been convinced for some time that what Harrison Road really needs is a total rework, not just another unhelpful and costly Band-Aid.

I live in Spotswood Estates and travel Harrison, fairly frequently, from Lafayette to Route 3 at Harrison Crossing to avoid the "un-fixable" traffic mess west on Route 3 from Route 1.

Unfortunately, both routes continually get worse, and no additional lanes to Route 3 seem to improve the quagmire. It seems logical, reasonable, and cost effective, to me, to address Harrison Road with more than Band-Aids.

I don't understand why VDOT and other transportation authorities can't recognize the immense benefit of upgrading Harrison Road, to at least the level of Leavells Road through Salem Church Road (minimum of four lanes with adequate turn lanes and signaling), from Lafayette to Harrison's Crossing.

Adding an interchange at I-95 would allow southbound to westbound traffic to avoid Route 3 to at least as far as Harrison's Crossing, and maybe altogether. Attention to this issue could also improve Lafayette and Route 1 traffic backups.

Can you look into this and give me some idea of why this transportation improvement is not being addressed?

--D. Wayne Ervin, Spotsylvania

There are some plans in the works for Harrison Road.

The intersection at U.S. 1 will be "widened and enhanced," said VDOT's Kelly Hannon. It'll get more turn and through lanes, something that is sorely needed.

It's still in the early phases and won't start until early 2016 and that's only if funds are available. But it is in the six-year plan, so it'll likely happen.

As for widening Harrison Road, don't hold your breath.

It would be a massive and expensive undertaking, requiring utilities relocation, land acquisition and a new, wider bridge over I-95.

Throw in a new I-95 interchange at Harrison Road and we're getting to an even more complicated place, involving the Federal Highway Administration, which sometimes seems more proficient at putting up hoops to jump through than finding actual transportation fixes.

And, to boot, there is nothing for this work in that all-important six-year plan, which for all intents and purposes means it doesn't exist.

This is where tonight's meeting comes into play.

If you have a pet transportation project in mind, including mass transit, go to the meeting and tell the powers that be.

The doors open at 6 p.m.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436
Email: sshenk@freelancestar.com