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BY JEFF BRANSCOME
The Thornburg interchange in Spotsylvania County needs a lot of work, even if the proposed Dominion Raceway is never built nearby.
Raceway supporters and opponents can agree on that. It's even acknowledged in a traffic study commissioned by the proposed raceway's developers.
But the report takes a positive spin, saying the raceway would provide immediate transportation improvements at the interchange at Interstate 95 and Mudd Tavern Road.
"These improvements will mitigate existing and projected future deficiencies at the interchange that will occur without the Dominion Raceway, while also accommodating the project's additional race event and commercial traffic," says a report by Bowman Consulting in Richmond.
The 358-page traffic study was submitted to Spotsylvania's planning department, along with the developer's rezoning application, on Tuesday.
The Dominion Raceway is being proposed for 160 acres at the northeastern corner of the Thornburg exit off I-95. The project will need a Virginia Department of Transportation waiver because its entrance would be just 300 feet from the northbound ramp onto I-95, according to Bowman's report.
Bowman Consulting project manager John Riley noted that the portion of Mudd Tavern Road that would pass the raceway carries just 1,900 vehicle trips per day. That's the third lowest of any road next to an I-95 interchange in Virginia, he said.
"Honestly, the restricting factor in development is not our entrance or its proximity to the interchange as it is the interchange itself," Riley said.
The raceway could operate without improvements to the Mudd Tavern Road bridge over I-95, but commercial components would be limited, he said.
Clay Huber, who lives about three miles from the site of the proposed raceway, isn't buying the study, which he calls "presumptuous."
Raceway officials, he says, assume VDOT will replace the Mudd Tavern Road bridge over I-95.
VDOT's long-term budget includes that $5.9 million project, but it isn't scheduled to be completed until 2020--and that's only if it receives funding.
Meanwhile, the developer hopes to open the raceway by spring 2014. Riley noted that the raceway project, in addition to being an economic catalyst, could spur the state to fund those bridge improvements.