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Under Construction

Route 3 Improvement, Culpeper County

Widening to four lanes between Stevensburg and Lignum

Project at a Glance

Begin Date
April 2015

Est Completion Date
Early Fall 2017

Under construction

$23.59 million design-build contract; $43.5 million project estimate

Lengths and Limits
5.1 miles, from 4.1 miles east of Route 29 to 4 miles west of Orange-Culpeper county line

Branch Highways Inc.



Stacy Londrey, Communications Manager
Greg Cooley, Construction Engineer
Rick Crofford, Environmental Manager

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Construction Progress

VDOT has partnered with Branch Highways Inc./JMT through the design-build contracting method. The $23.59 million contract was awarded in October 2013 and covers preliminary engineering, right of way acquisition and construction services.

96.5% of project completed as of July 1, 2017

Use caution through work zone. Speed limit has been reduced to 45 miles per hour through entire project. 

Lane closures are limited to 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.

Upcoming work:

Through project completion: 
Complete construction of new two-lane alignment outside of existing travel lanes
Move traffic to use the full, new two-lane alignment
Reconstruct existing Route 3 travel lanes to their new design
Move traffic to use all four lanes. Some traffic shifts will occur to finish median and shoulder work and perform final paving. 

Project Purpose

The project will improve a 5.1-mile section of Route 3 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway between Stevensburg and Lignum. This is the final section of Route 3 in Culpeper County to be widened to four lanes.

The primary need is improvement of safety along the Route 3 corridor. Between 2006 and 2009 there were 69 crashes on the two-lane segment of Route 3. Seven people died and another 62 people were injured, several seriously. Two more people died in a crash in 2010.

The 2010 update of Culpeper County’s Comprehensive Plan identifies four-laning Route 3 along the existing alignment as a county priority. It is also listed as a regional priority by the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission in the draft 2035 Rural Long-Range Transportation Plan.

The current average daily traffic on Route 3 is 8,200 vehicles, which is forecast to increase to 14,210 by the design year, 2035. Nine percent of the vehicles using the highway are trucks.

Project Costs

Total: $43,492,679 estimated cost

Preliminary Engineering: $5.16 million
Right of Way and Utility Relocation: $7.61 million
Construction: $30.72 million

Project History

Widening of Route 3 in Culpeper County to four lanes has been proposed since the early 1990s. Due to limited funding the project was split into three phases. The eastern segment (Orange County line to Lignum) and the western segment (Route 522 to west of Stevensburg) have been completed using state funding.

Project timeline:
1995 - Location public hearing held (December).

1996 - The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved a northern bypass alignment for the four-lane improvements near Stevensburg.

1999 - Design public hearing held. The CTB approved the major design features of the overall Route 3 corridor improvements, but recommended that final approval of the design of the Stevensburg segment be delayed until additional analysis was completed. 

2001 - Location and design public hearing held on Stevensburg segment, at which two potential alignments were presented: improvements along the existing alignment (Alternative A), and a northern bypass of Stevensburg (Alternative B). Alternative B was favored by the public.

2002 - VDOT recommended and the CTB approved Alternative B, the northern bypass alignment and design (June).

2010 - Conversion of the project from state funding to federal funding required an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). That review established that the northern bypass alignment (Alternative B) would have significantly greater impact to the area's historic resources, requiring more than double the amount of land from the Brandy Station Battlefield site than Alternative A (76.6 versus 36.2 acres).

2011 - A combined location and design public hearing was held (March), with 66 members of the public in attendance. A community meeting was in held shortly after in Stevensburg to answer further questions, with 65 people attending. The CTB rescinded their previous approval of Alternative B at its July 2011 meeting and then approved the district's recommendation to build the four-lane improvements on the existing alignment. As design work continued, VDOT enlisted the help of the Stevensburg community advisory group. Based on public input, several changes were made to the design: 

  • A storm water management pond has been relocated so it no longer affects the historic Wicked Bottom spring.
  • Reduction of the speed limit through the Stevensburg area to 45 miles per hour.
  • Access and entrance to the Salubria historic site has been improved with a right-turn lane, a crossover and widening of the private entrance.
  • Access to the Stevensburg Post Office, Stevensburg store and auto repair shop has been improved by the addition of a crossover at that location.
  • The roadway alignment was shifted to the south to minimize the impacts to Hansborough Ridge, one of the geographic features of the Brandy Station Battlefield. The district is working with the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) to minimize the impacts of the road improvements to Hansborough Ridge.

2012 - Design-build procurement process selected for this project (February).

2013 - Project awarded to design-builder Branch Highways Inc (October).


Environmental documents:
   Memorandum of Agreement for Cultural Resources Adobe Acrobat PDF (4.8 MB)
   Section 106 timeline Adobe Acrobat PDF (14 KB)

Materials from the April 13 public briefing:
   Presentation Adobe Acrobat PDF (419 KB)
   Handout Adobe Acrobat PDF (110 KB)
   Display 1 Adobe Acrobat PDF (4 MB)
   Display 2 Adobe Acrobat PDF (4 KB)

New Traffic Pattern on Route 3 May 10
News release, May 8, 2017 
Route 3 Traffic Shift Set for March 29 in Stevensburg
News release, March 24, 2017 (Updated: March 28, 2017)

Curb Installation on Route 3 Next Week
News release, March 15, 2017

Route 3 Traffic Shift Scheduled for Friday
News release, Jan. 10, 2017

Traffic Shift on Route 3 Rescheduled for Nov. 15
News release, Nov. 9, 2016

Route 3 Traffic Shift Rescheduled for Oct. 3
News release, Sept. 29, 2016

Traffic Switch on Rt. 3 at Lignum Planned for Saturday
News release, Nov. 19, 2015

45 MPH Speed Limit Extended on Rt. 3 Project
News release, Sept. 25, 2015

Speed Limit Reduced Through Rt. 3 Work Zone
News release, Aug. 3, 2015

Public Invited to Information Meeting on Rt. 3 Project
News release, April 2, 2015

Governor McDonnell Announces $168 Million in Transportation Projects Approved for Construction
News release, Oct. 17, 2013

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Page last modified: July 21, 2017