Stafford County Community Guide
Stafford County OverviewStafford 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 SCHOOLSStafford 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.
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.
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.
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.