A newly trimmed six-year transportation plan includes funding for land acquisition at sites of major county intersections, but county officials aren’t sure whether businesses that stand in the way of bulldozers will be displaced before 2008.
In its scaled-back draft released Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Transportation cut construction funding for three local interchange projects: U.S. 29 and Interstate 66; Va. 123 and U.S. 1; and Va. 234 and U.S. 1. Money was spared, however, for engineering and right-of-way acquisition.
“We’re still trying to clarify if the money left in the plan allows us to go forward with partial acquisition,” said VDOT Prince William Manager Tom Fahrney. “More details will be coming in June or the summer of this year on whether VDOT will proceed with right-of-way acquisition on these three projects. We just don’t know yet.”
About $2.9 billion, or 29 percent, was sliced from the commonwealth’s six-year plan to compensate for a shortfall in funding, rising maintenance costs and unrealistic project cost estimates, VDOT officials said.
The U.S. 29/I-66 Interchange project in Gainesville is partially funded for right-of-way acquisition, as is the planned Va. 123/U.S. 1 interchange in Woodbridge, but Fahrney said he does not yet know if land for the intersections can still be purchased.
The proposed Va. 234/U.S. 1 Interchange in Dumfries is fully funded for purchasing needed right-of-way, but again, whether acquisition happens in the next six years is not known, he said.
Another point of confusion after the six-year plan was released: A location and design public hearing on the Interstate 95 widening project from the Fairfax County Parkway to Va. 123 is still scheduled for June 6 in Lorton even though the project lost its construction funding in the revised six-year plan.
Its preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition is still in the six-year plan, said VDOT spokesman Bruce Williams, so planning can still continue. The project would add a fourth lane to I-95. The public hearing is from 5 to 8 p.m. at Gunston Elementary School.
In Manassas, officials are still absorbing the news that the widening of Dumfries Road was eliminated from the six-year plan. It had been set to go to bid in August before VDOT dropped this “bombshell” on the city, said Public Works Director Mike Moon.
The Dumfries Road widening project does not compete with other county projects for funding it comes out of an urban funding category, Moon said.
Some county officials thought it was interesting that the Manassas City Council received a briefing on the state six-year plan on Monday, two days before VDOT released the closely guarded plan to everyone else.
VDOT’s urban division faxed the city information on its projects ahead of time, Moon said.