Rappahannock Parkway proposed as tollroad in Fredericksburg Virginia

May 24, 2007
By Peter Samuel
The Rappahannock Parkway is being proposed as a new tollroad by developers and officials in the Fredericksburg VA area, about midway between Washington DC and the state capital Richmond. It's an approx 8km (5mi) tollroad plus major new interchange with I-95 near milepost 131 (MP131). As presently conceived the interchange will serve a large new commercial development right alongside I-95 called Celebrate Virginia plus the tollroad which will continue on from the commercial development arcing southwesterly about 8km (5mi) to end at Virginia State Route 3 (VA3).

The new interchange on I-95 will only serve traffic west of the interstate and will be located in the area of a rest stop just south of the Rappahannock River. The interchange will need to serve 2x4 unrestricted lanes of I-95 plus up to 3 HOT lanes. It will have direct connector ramps to the HOT lanes which will be developed under a concession with Transurban as Stage 2 of their I-395/I-95 concession. The other end of the tollroad will be just east of the Chancellorsville battlefield national park.

Lloyd Robinson director of transport planning at the local metro plan organization (FAMPO) tells us the present plan is to locate the tolling point beyond the Celebrate Virginia development so users of that development can avoid the toll. Only users of the Rappahannock Parkway (Rappa Pkwy) further from I-95 will be tolled.

Robinson says the tollroad would be a simple 'pipe' going 4 or 5 miles (6.5km to 8km) to VA3. Its purpose would be to provide a quick hassle-free alternative to VA3 and provide relief to that overloaded stretch of road. There's much new development out there.

The local MPO is working with Virginia DOT and FHWA, Robinson tells us, to get "Interstate access" approval for the interchange first. There is only 5km (3mi) between the existing interchanges at VA3 and US17 so there will be weaving problems to be tackled, but Robinson says "This is an urban situation and you have to deal with that."

He says local officials are keen to use the state's Public Private Transportation Act to get developers to make proposals for the project. He says VDOT and the Governor Timothy Kaine have reacted positively to the presentations made. There is no suggestion at this stage that the state or city should do it as a public toll project.

Transurban/Fluor and Clark & Shirley are both reported to be looking at the project. Whether it can generate money for building the interchange while exempting a lot of its traffic from tolls seems to be doubtful.

Robinson says he hopes the proposers will be creative about finding ways to build the project economically such as using a roundabout at the western end of the road rather than a full interchange. He says there has been too much grandiose highway design in Fredericksburg in the past citing one proposal on which millions were spent in design for an I-95 interchange costing nearly $500m, that of course never went anywhere.

"It is amazing what people will come up with when they think they are spending someone else's money," says Robinson.

BACKGROUND:
Fredericksburg MPO consists of city of Frederickburg and the counties of Stafford and Spotsylvania and is about midway between the state capital Richmond and Washington DC -  74km (46mi) from WDC and 80km (50mi) from Richmond.

Civil war battlefields abound covering some 17 mi2.

Population of the MPO in 1990 was 138k, in 2000 202k, with official state forecasts for 2030 of 391k.

TOLLROADSnews 2007-05-24

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