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Area residents, elected officials bend ears of state transportation leaders
"In my humble opinion, that should be our top priority," said Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, who was followed by several other local officials and residents who echoed his sentiment.
They mentioned several projects already in the six-year plan and some that have been in state plans but eventually were scrapped, including the Outer Connector.
Spotsylvania officials pointed out the importance of the Jackson Gateway, a massive, $400 million project that would drastically change U.S. 1 and I-95 interchanges in the Massaponax area. It is still in the study phase and a long way from ever coming to fruition, but those who spoke about it touted its importance to economic development as well as a way to unclog the area's roads.
Speakers brought up several other big projects they said are crucial to the Fredericksburg area's transportation needs: reconstruction of U.S. 17 and the I-95 interchange in Stafford; the State Route 630 interchange reconstruction project in Stafford; the extension of the I-95 express lanes to Massaponax; and the Fall Hill Avenue widening project, which has about a $2.5 million funding gap.
All of those projects are included in the current SYIP and likely will remain in the new one, which the CTB will vote on next June.
Numerous elected officials also pointed out concerns about funding for VRE, which they said is a crucial piece of the I-95 corridor.
The commuter rail provider is in danger of losing $9.6 million in federal funds that would pay for track access fees. The state will have the final say in whether VRE gets that funding.
If that money isn't provided for the fees, the officials said it could lead to VRE cutting back service, raising fares or charging member localities more.
Fellow VRE board member and Stafford Supervisor Paul Milde echoed Skinner's sentiments, saying the loss of the access funding "would be devastating."
After hearing the speakers, Sterling said that I-95 "is the highest priority" for the CTB and pointed to several of the big projects brought up during the meeting. Those projects will cost about $1 billion, he said.
"That's a lot of money."
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436