Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 6:00 pm
Stafford County Supervisor Paul Milde, R-Aquia, rented a billboard along Interstate 95 to unite local residents frustrated by gridlock.
The billboard, situated just south of the Garrisonville Road exit in North Stafford, reads, “STUCK IN TRAFFIC?” It then instructs people to text #EndGridlock to 313131, using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to bring light to their struggles in local traffic.
The sign also reminds drivers not to text while they are driving.
Along with the recent billboard and social media efforts, Milde’s campaign includes a petition. It’s all meant to create a collaborative voice of residents to speak to Richmond and ask for a solution to the area’s traffic problems, Milde said, adding that currently there is no plan to add any lanes on I-95 south of mile marker 142.
“When the express lanes were extended to Stafford and opened a year ago, it instantly added 44 minutes to the commute each week of people crossing Stafford,” Milde said. “We were promised phase two would begin soon after phase one. Phase two would’ve taken the express lanes all the way to Massaponax . Now we are gridlocked during rush hour.”
Milde said that 30,000 people live and work in Stafford, and even more come from the south to work in Stafford or Quantico. Those people have all seen a degradation in their commute, he noted.
On Nov. 24, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a released statement: “…We will fix the bottleneck on the southern end in Stafford County, and travelers will have the choice of taking an express trip from south of Garrisonville Road all the way up to the [Washington,] D.C. line. This represents a true multi-modal solution offering commuters a reliable trip so they can reach their destination faster in one the most congested regions of the country.”
According to the plan, the project will extend 95 Express Lanes by approximately two miles past the point where the current flyover carries southbound traffic to exit 143/Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. A reversible single lane would be built, eventually splitting into northbound and southbound merge ramps.
Construction is estimated to begin in 2016 and take two years to complete.
Despite the announcement, Milde said that the governor and the Commonwealth Transportation Board “have no credible plan to address this problem and that is unacceptable.”
“The proposed two-mile extension of the HOT lanes to a point just immediately south of 610 will not do anything measurably to address the problems…” said Milde, adding that the Virginia Department of Transportation’s own study shows that.
“Cleverly last week the governor rolled out his plan to extend the HOT lanes north through Arlington and tried to give the impression that the two-mile southern extension was something worthwhile,” Milde said.
Tracy Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.