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U.S. Route 29 and parallel roads targeted for improvements in state six-year plan

Wednesday, Jun. 18 | By Mark Grandstaff | Google+
A bridge straddling the Fauquier-Culpeper line made the list of targeted projects for the Virginia Department of Transportation's plans to improve mobility and reduce congestion along U.S. Route 29, said Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a release.

Virginia's six-year improvement program includes funding for repairs to the Route 15 Bridge at the Culpeper/Fauquier County line. VDOT is in the early stage of evaluating the options to rehabilitate this bridge that spans the Rappahannock River on Route 15/29 Business just south of the town of Remington. The steel truss bridge was built in 1930 and is restricted to vehicles weighing no more than 11 tons. The program allocates $3.9 million toward the structure’s rehabilitation in Fiscal Year 2020, bringing the total funding available for this project to $4.8 million.

The bridge is just one of nine projects approved for funding to ease congestion along U.S. 29 in the Charlottesville region. The six-year-plan includees $13.1 billion in transportation improvements across the state for the next six years starting July 1, according to the release.

“The program reflects input from the community and local governments, including public meetings and written comments received in the last few months,” said McAuliffe. “The public played an important role in helping the [Commonwealth Transportation Board] to shape the transportation program, making the best use of limited resources on projects that will ease congestion and move traffic more efficiently.”

The allocations for the improvements recommended as a result of the Route 29 Solutions initiative include additional funding for projects already included in the six-year program as well as allocations for new projects that have been added to this year’s update.

The projects include improvements that will increase capacity and efficiency along Route 29 as well as several parallel road projects that will provide alternate routes for local traffic that will help reduce the volume on Route 29. Full funding for a second train from Lynchburg to Washington, D.C. is also included in the program. Money previously allocated to the Route 29 Bypass project is being reallocated to these projects as well as additional funding from other sources. The projects included in the update are:

Existing projects, additional funding to complete

· Route 29/250 interchange improvements, $6 million

· Hillsdale Drive Extension, $16 million

· Route 29 widening (Polo Grounds Road to Town Center Drive), $18 million

· Adaptive signal technology at 22 intersections on Route 29 in Albemarle County,
$3 million

Proposed new construction projects, total estimated cost

· Berkmar Drive Extension, $54 million

· Hillsdale Drive Extension (Hydraulic Road to Holiday Drive), $10 million

· Rio Road grade-separated intersection, $81 million

Preliminary engineering only

· Hydraulic Road grade-separated intersection, $10 million

Amtrak regional train service, Lynchburg to Washington, D.C.

· Full funding for an additional train, $75 million, including $5 million recommended by the Route 29 Solutions initiative

In Culpeper County, the $37.2 million project to build a grade-separated interchange at Route 29 and Route 666 is fully funded and will be advertised for construction in August. This intersection is adjacent to one of the county’s two high schools and replacement of the existing at-grade intersection has been a top priority for the county since Eastern View High School opened in the fall of 2008. The interchange will greatly improve safety, particularly for the young drivers and school buses going to and from the school. The county’s sports complex is also nearby on Route 666 and generates heavy traffic through the intersection with Route 29 on weekends and throughout the summer.

The six-year program will be updated later this year to comply with the new prioritization process, which was signed into law under House Bill 2 by McAuliffe earlier this year. Under the process, projects will be objectively selected based on regional needs.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board will work in collaboration with localities to set weights for key factors like congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety and environmental quality. Specific projects will then be screened and selected for funding beginning in July 2016.

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