Stafford County in Virginia has plans for Interstate 95 interchange on Courthouse Road. The current interchange was originally built in 1963 and may not be able to handle the increased flow of traffic and use according to VDOT. This interchange project is the intended solution, but funding has been cut significantly due to the state’s new prioritization program. The new program has several other projects on the list to improve transportation. Not only does Stafford County plan to advance I-95, but expanding VRE platforms at a couple stations, building a new commuter lot and improving intersections on U.S. 1 are a few of the top priorities. With these projects added to the list, the funding needs to be dispersed appropriately. The interchange plan originally had $185.4 million to work with and is now cut down to $149.9 million. Stafford elected officials were not pleased with the budget cut.
Due to the significant decrease in funds, the original design for the interchange had to be modified to a less expensive one. The concept is called a divergent diamond interchange which will be an unusual layout to Stafford County. According to VDOT, the adjusted layout will work just as well as the original design for much less cost. VDOT says there will be fewer congestion points, smoother flow of traffic and less time at red lights. Courthouse Road will also be realigned to accommodate the changes to the interstate and building new bridges has also been added to the plan. The tentative completion date is Spring of 2020.
The combination of these transportation projects certainly has some strengths and weaknesses. Interstate 95 in this area is known for the rush hour traffic jams and weekend congestion. People who commute to work experience the frustration of highway traffic daily. Realizing the difficulty in transportation and proactively creating this project to ease the flow of travel is a good move on the part of the Stafford officials. If the interchange pans out the way VDOT predicts, it’ll be beneficial for everyone in the area who travels to work or other obligations daily. Smoothing out the flow of traffic also helps prevent accidents. As part of what we’ve studied in class, both of the renovation projects in Brooklyn and Buffalo acknowledged that there was a problem in the community and action needed to be taken to revitalize those areas. Of course, this is the first step to any action plan, but identifying the issues at hand helps the plan move forward. Although the budget cut for the plan angered the officials, it turns out it may have been for the best. They are still able to use a design that satisfies the original goal without spending as much. The budget cut allows for other road and transportation projects to have to some leeway.
In the Brooklyn re-development plan, we saw that one person was in power and made many promises of benefits to the residents in that community. However, there was an underlying agenda and the people did not have much of a voice or opportunity to contribute their thoughts and opinions. In this transportation development plan, it seems that the people in Stafford County may not have been given the chance to speak of their reaction to the plan. Perhaps they may have other ideas for transportation projects or have noticed other areas that need a new design. In this case, the Stafford Board of Supervisors is in charge of making these decisions and voting on what projects to include in this prioritization program. There was no mention of a community meeting. There was only a gathering at Colonial Forge High School where residents could view details of the new plan only after the decisions were made by officials.
In any kind of community project, we’ve seen in class how detrimental it can be when residents are not included in the decisions of their town. Also, when the person in power is not truly representative or caring of the people, drastic decisions may be implemented that do not benefit the people. In the Stafford County interchange project, the new concept design definitely strives to aid the community in smooth travel, but giving the residents in the community a chance to address their concerns and even contribute their ideas is always a promising method.
Bartley, A. (2011). Building a “Community Growth Machine”. Social Policy, pp. 9-20.
Shenk, Scott. “Hearing Set for I-95 Interchange Project in Stafford.”Fredericksburg.com. N.p., 27 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
Shenk, Scott. “Residents Get a Chance to See Updated Plans for I-95 Interchange Design on Courthouse Road.” Fredericksburg.com. N.p., 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
Shenk, Scott. “Stafford Picks Projects for Statewide Prioritization Program.” Fredericksburg.com. N.p., 19 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.