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Area residents, elected officials bend ears of state transportation leaders
BY SCOTT SHENK
Several dozen people, including local elected officials, showed up for a meeting Monday night that focused on Virginia's next Six-Year Improvement Plan, the blueprint for future transportation projects across the commonwealth.
Almost half of the 43 people who attended the public hearing at Massaponax High School spoke to a small contingent of state transportation leaders, with much of the focus aimed at projects along the I-95 corridor.
Issues with Virginia Railway Express also were a talking point among local elected officials, as well as plans for a new racetrack in Thornburg.
The meeting was the last of nine throughout the state in which residents and elected officials got a chance to tell state transportation leaders about key issues in their areas. The local meeting was postponed in October due to Hurricane Sandy.
The transportation leaders at Monday's meeting included Cord Sterling, a Stafford County supervisor and member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which has final say in what projects make it in the SYIP, and David Tyeryar, Virginia's deputy secretary of transportation.
The current 2013-2018 SYIP has $11.4 billion in funding set aside for both roads and mass transit projects.
The next plan, which was the focus of Monday's meeting, will present officials with funding challenges, Charles Kilpatrick, VDOT's chief deputy commissioner, told the gathering.
Five residents Monday voiced concern about increased traffic and congestion if Old Dominion Speedway moves to Thornburg from Manassas, as has been proposed.
The owner of the racetrack has a contract to buy property off Mudd Tavern Road near I-95. The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors has to first approve the plans, which would need special-use permits and rezoning.
"I've lived there 40 years," said Joyce Ackerman, whose home stands along Roxbury Mill Road, not far from where the racetrack would be built.
"We can hardly move" now because of congestion around U.S. 1 and I-95, she said, echoing other speakers who live in the area. Ackerman also said heavy traffic makes driving in the area dangerous, and the racetrack would only make things worse.
But it was the I-95 corridor that received most of the attention from speakers Monday night.