07.31.2014  |   | Subscribe  | Contact us

Stafford County Community Guide

Stafford County Overview

Stafford County is unofficially split between the north and south, with Courthouse Road acting as somewhat of a dividing line. The area around the government complex and courthouse on Courthouse Road is one day envisioned as a town center, but that's likely years down the line. North Stafford and its many commuters tends to consider itself an extension of Northern Virginia while the southern part of the county is more similar to Fredericksburg. But the differences don't end there. Rural areas, rolling hills and waterfront properties along the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers can also be found.

From 2000 to 2012, Stafford's population grew by 44 percent, and the county also averaged 4 percent annualized job growth, the second highest rate in the state. The median household income is also one of the highest in the country at $94,000. Throughout 2014, Stafford County will be celebrating its 350th anniversary. Several events are planned to partly instill a sense of community into the county of more than 130,000. Stafford's largest public works project is also underway--Rocky Pen Run Reservoir is scheduled to start filling in 2014.

A variety of entertainment, historical and recreational opportunities can be found in Stafford. Spend an afternoon at two popular wineries, Hartwood Winery or Potomac Point Winery. Learn about the country's early days with a visit to a 1750s church or George Washington's boyhood home. Hike through Government Island, an 18th century quarry site that provided stone for the White House and U.S. Capitol, go boating on the rivers or explore a Union encampment from the Civil War. Many parks and sports fields are also located throughout the county.

STAFFORD COUNTY SCHOOLS

Stafford County Public Schools have been dealing with rapid growth in the past decade. That growth slowed down in recent years, but several new neighborhoods promise to bring even more students to the school division. Additionally, some more developments have recently been approved, and those single-family homes could keep adding to Stafford's school rosters for many years to come.

This school year, about 27,200 students attend Stafford's 30 schools. The School Board plans to redraw the district lines in some of the elementary schools to ease overcrowding--and additions are planned for most of the division's five high schools. One school, Stafford High School, is in the middle of a rebuild that is scheduled to be done in 2015.

Stafford schools also include 17 elementary schools and eight middle schools.

Stafford County Public Schools have a 92 percent on-time graduation rate, and the division's test scores are typically higher than the state average. The School Board prides itself on offering smaller class sizes and more advanced programs--which include a gifted program, Advanced Placement courses, an International Baccalaureate program, dual enrollment courses and the Commonwealth Governor's School. The school system also offers Career and Technical Education programs in a variety of subjects for high school students.

Stafford's Superintendent resigned last year, and the School Board recently hired a replacement, Bruce Benson, who will take the job April 1.

Stafford Transportation

Anyone who regularly drives in Stafford will end up on the primary roads of U.S. 1, U.S. 17 and State Route 610.

Traffic on 17 and 610 often is bad, some of the worst congestion in the area. U.S. 1, for the most part, can be a decent drive. But drivers will find that there are some bad spots on that highway, and some bad times to be on it.

U.S. 1 is often congested in the areas of U.S. 17 (the Falmouth intersection) and 610, primarily during the commuter rush. The courthouse area (Route 630) and Boswells Corner north of Garrisonville are two other trouble spots.

The good thing in Stafford is that some improvements have been made on major (and some not so major) roads. And there are some major projects in the works and on the books. The bad news is that Stafford’s growth seems to continuously outpace transportation improvements.

Here are some projects set for Stafford’s major roads:

Falmouth Intersection: Work is underway on this project, which will add eight new lanes to the congested intersection. The current focus is on putting utilities underground. VDOT expects construction on the $25 million project to begin early next year. Work is expected to take up to two years.

U.S. 17 Widening: This project will add lanes to the heavily traveled highway between McLane Drive and Stafford Lakes Parkway. Construction is underway on the estimated $48.9 million project. Work is expected to be finished by December 2016.

State Route 630 interchange (Courthouse Road): This massive project will result in a new split diamond interchange and a rerouted Courthouse Road, which will connect with U.S. 1 at Hospital Center Boulevard, south of the current intersection. The $184 million project will be advertised for bids in early 2016 and is slated to be finished in 2019.

State 630 Widening: At the same time the interchange project is being done, State Route 630 west will be widened to four lanes from Cedar Lane to Ramoth Church Road. Also, a traffic light will be installed at the entrance to Colonial Forge High School. The $29.9 million project is set to be advertised for bids in the spring of 2016 and could be finished by the end of 2017.

State Route 610: There have been numerous recent upgrades at various intersections on Garrisonville Road. There are other projects slated for the North Stafford highway and at a commuter parking lot.

  • Widening: The highway will be widened to six lanes between Onville and Eustace roads. The $13.8 million project is slated to start in June 2015 and be finished by the end of 2016.
  • Onville Road Intersection Improvement: At the Route 610 and Onville Road intersection, turn lanes will be added in this $13.2 million project to accommodate increased traffic at the Quantico Marine Corps Base. Work should start in early 2014 and be finished by October 2015.
  • The Staffordboro Commuter Lot Expansion: is in the midst of a $12.9 million expansion, which will add 1,000 spaces and include such extras as centralized slug pickup spots and bus bays. The expansion is currently in the works and is expected to be completed in December 2014.
There are more projects on the books. To find out details, click here and here.

Stafford real estate

Stafford County’s housing market is dominated by large, suburban neighborhoods, many of which have been built in the past decade. The developments are clustered around the county’s major transportation corridors, including Garrisonville and Courthouse roads, as well as U.S. 1 and 17.

Real estate in North Stafford tends to be the priciest due to its proximity to Northern Virginia and the Quantico Marine Corps Base. Much of the newest residential development is along Courthouse Road, particularly a large new project called Embrey Mill that will also include a county park and recreation facility. Whereas North Stafford tends to cater to commuters, the southern part of the county is longer established and tied

more closely to the city of Fredericksburg. Falmouth’s history dates back centuries, and some of the county’s priciest real estate is along the Potomac River. Much of the county outside the major thoroughfares remains rural, including the Hartwood and White Oak areas.

Stafford Business

Most of the country’s largest defense contractors, as well as many smaller homegrown firms, have a presence along Garrisonville Road and U.S. 1 near the Quantico Marine Corps Base in North Stafford. That corridor is also home to the Hilldrup Cos., a long-established local moving and storage company.

The county’s courthouse area has been growing of late, with new residential communities sprouting up nearby and Stafford Hospital providing jobs and services. Germanna Community College is in the early stages of building a campus in the county’s courthouse area. The southern part of the county is home to Geico’s regional headquarters, the University of Mary Washington’s Stafford campus, the historic Falmouth port town and Ferry Farm, George Washington’s boyhood home.

County officials are in the early stages of trying to court Legoland to open its third U.S. theme park along the Centreport Parkway exit off Interstate 95, which bisects Stafford.

Stafford County news feed

Stafford County woman has $150K winner

Jennifer Ramos of Stafford County, an office manager at a dental practice, credits her mother for wi ... Jul 31 in The News Desk.

Man reports robbery, wounding in Stafford

BY KEITH EPPS THE FREE LANCE-STAR Stafford detectives are investigating a reported robbery lat ... Jul 31 in The News Desk.

Man accused of paying for food with fake money

BY KEITH EPPS / THE FREE LANCE–STAR A Stafford man is facing a felony charge after being accused We ... Jul 30 in The News Desk.

Two charged after fight at McDonald's

BY KEITH EPPS The Free Lance–Star A household move turned ugly in Stafford County, authorit ... Jul 29 in The News Desk.

Stafford program helping preserve rural land

BY VANESSA REMMERS / THE FREE LANCE–STAR More than 200 acres have been preserved in Stafford County ... Jul 27 in The News Desk.

Stafford sets priorities for school chief

BY VANESSA REMMERS / THE FREE LANCE–STAR School Superintendent Bruce Benson got his official marchi ... Jul 27 in The News Desk.

Give 'dog days of summer' new meaning by adopting this week

O'rion is a sweet, gentle male Maine Coon/ Tabby mix that gets along wonderfully with other cats, d ... Jul 25 in Pet Dish.

Spotsylvania issues wanted poster, seeks public’s help in finding suspect

ONLINE EXTRA: Check out the wanted poster from the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office. BY PAMELA GOULD ... Jul 24 in Justice Forum.

Harrell Road rail overpass inspected

CSX Transportation said the rail overpass hit by a truck on Monday passed inspections. "Several p ... Jul 24 in Transportation.

Hughes found guilty of first-degree murder

ONLINE EXTRA: Jason Shane Plaster's daughters wrote letters that were presented by the prosecution i ... Jul 24 in The News Desk.

Hughes found guilty of first-degree murder

ONLINE EXTRA: Jason Shane Plaster's daughters wrote letters that were presented by the prosecution i ... Jul 24 in The News Desk.

Man dies in Stafford crash

A 37-year-old man died in a crash Tuesday morning, according to the Stafford County Sheriff's Office ... Jul 23 in Transportation.

Driver of truck that hit rail overpass charged

The driver of the truck that rammed into the railroad overpass on Harrell Road in Stafford on Monday ... Jul 23 in Transportation.

Staffordboro commuter lot expansion nearing completion

BY SCOTT SHENK THE FREE LANCE–STAR With the expansion work nearly complete at the Staffordboro ... Jul 23 in Transportation.

Drool in the Pool set for Sept. 6

UPDATE: Stafford County Parks has provided additional information on the Sept. 6 Drool in the Pool e ... Jul 22 in Pet Dish.

Stafford road closed because of bridge overpass damage

UPDATE: The road should open soon, according to Bill Kennedy with the Stafford County Sheriff's Offi ... Jul 21 in Transportation.

Stafford rail stations in line for expansion

BY SCOTT SHENK / THE FREE LANCE–STAR The two Virginia Railway Express stations in Stafford County w ... Jul 18 in The News Desk.

Women are raising the roof

http://youtu.be/8saX6727kOY BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE / THE FREE LANCE–STAR Tap, tap, tap. Amber Smith ... Jul 18 in The News Desk.

Stafford man faces armed robbery charges

Christian Bridges BY KEITH EPPS / THE FREE LANCE–STAR A Stafford County man was arrested Thursd ... Jul 18 in The News Desk.

Local shelters have plenty of pets eager for permanent homes

Freya is a sweet, 5-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier who loves attention and is eager to follow a ... Jul 18 in Pet Dish.

Layoffs shock Intuit workers

BY LINDLEY ESTES / THE FREE LANCE–STARIntuit’s move to downsize its Stafford County location c ... Jul 17 in The News Desk.

Juvenile is charged in $150K home heist

BY KEITH EPPS / THE FREE LANCE–STARA 17-year-old Stafford County boy has been charged and about $110 ... Jul 17 in The News Desk.

Rain delays U.S. 17 lane shift

Wednesday’s heavy rainfall pushed back the lane shift on U.S. 17 to tonight. (PETER CIHELKA / TH ... Jul 17 in Transportation.

Community aids family with three sets of twins

BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE / THE FREE LANCE–STAR The local and online community is rallying to help a S ... Jul 17 in The News Desk.

Intuit announces it will lay off 159

BY LINDLEY ESTES / THE FREE LANCE–STARMore than 150 Intuit employees in Stafford County learned Tues ... Jul 16 in The News Desk.