Route 3 Improvement, Culpeper County
|Widening of Route 3 between Stevensburg and Lignum|
Project at a Glance
$38.5 million (Six-Year Improvement Program estimate)
Lengths and Limits
4.9 miles, from 4.1 miles east of Route 29 to 4 miles west of Orange/Culpeper County line
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To receive updates about the project, send an email to Route3Culpeper@VDOT.Virginia.gov.
The project will improve a section of Route 3 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway from 4.1 miles east of Route 29 to 4 miles west of the Culpeper/Orange County line. 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 4.6-mile 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 as a county priority completion of the four-lane improvement to Route 3 along the existing alignment. 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 7,850 vehicles. That is forecast to increase to 14,210 by the design year, 2035. Nine percent of the vehicles using the highway are trucks.
The widening of Route 3 in Culpeper County to a four-lane divided highway 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.
Between 1995 and 2001 three public hearings were held to gather public comment on proposed improvements to Route 3, including in the Stevensburg area. Following a location public hearing in December 1995 the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in 1996 approved a northern bypass alignment for the four-lane improvements near Stevensburg. In 1999, after a design public hearing, the CTB approved the major design features of the improvements but recommended that final approval of the design of the Stevensburg segment be delayed until additional analysis was completed. In 2001 a location and design public hearing was held where two potential alignments were presented: improvements along the existing alignment (Alternative A), and a northern bypass of Stevensburg (Alternative B). Based on the comments received during that public involvement process VDOT recommended and the CTB in June 2002 approved the northern bypass alignment and design.
Recent 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 Brandy Station Battlefield Historic District and nearby historic resources.
The bypass alignment (Alternative B) would require acquisition of 26.3 acres within the Brandy Station Battlefield Historic District and 50.3 acres within the American Battlefield Protection Program’s proposed boundaries for the Brandy Station Battlefield. Alternative A, which would improve the road along the existing alignment, requires acquisition of 9.7 acres within the Brandy Station Battlefield Historic District and 26.5 acres within the American Battlefield Protection Program’s proposed boundaries for the battlefield.
Public Hearing and Public Involvement
On March 23 a combined location and design public hearing was held where 66 members of the public registered their attendance. After the public hearing, VDOT staff attended a community meeting in Stevensburg at the request of residents to provide additional information and answer questions about the proposed improvements. Approximately 65 people attended that meeting. Various VDOT staff members have also met with all individuals and groups who have asked questions about the project or requested a meeting.
The public comment period was extended an additional 10 days after VDOT was informed that there was a misprint of the return address on the comment forms distributed at the public hearing. All members of the public who registered at the public hearing were sent, by certified mail, a letter explaining the problem and a corrected comment sheet to ensure they had an opportunity to provide input. At the community meeting in Stevensburg the project staff provided additional comment sheets with the corrected return address. The comment period extension was also announced in the local newspapers.
The Culpeper District has submitted the public hearing record and district recommendation for the location of the proposed improvements to the State Location and Design Engineer for approval. The CTB rescinded the previously approved alignment to the north of Stevensburg at its meeting in July 2011. The CTB then approved the district's recommendation that the four-lane improvements be built on the existing alignment. Work on the design of the roadway and associated improvements has continued, as has the involvement of the Stevensburg community advisory group.
Based on comments received during the public involvement process several changes have been made to the preliminary design plans.
- 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.
The Culpeper District will continue to work with interested citizens, DHR and other groups to identify their concerns and mitigate and minimize the effects of the project where possible.
An email list to distribute information about the project is being developed. To receive email updates about the project, send a request to Route3Culpeper@VDOT.Virginia.gov.
Costs and Schedule
Improvement on the existing alignment: $38.5 million total cost
- Preliminary Engineering: $2.4 million; design is under way
- Right of Way and Utility Relocation: $11.5 million; begins FY 2012
- Construction: $25 million; begins FY 2014
These costs are preliminary estimates and may increase or decrease as the project’s design is developed and additional engineering and site work is done.
Information and Resources
Public hearing brochure (368 KB)
Exhibits from June 6 Task Force Meeting:
- Accident Data, 2007-2009 (1 MB)
- Historic Area Map (22 MB)
- Wicked Bottom (4 MB)
- Hansborough Ridge (3 MB)
- Salubria Crossover (68 KB)
- Stevensburg Store Crossover (153 KB)
- Median Widening at Route 663 (223 KB)
- Roundabout at Route 663 (198 KB)
- Entire Project: Dynamic Speed-Detection Signs (4 MB)
- Entire Project: Median Widening with Traffic-Calming Measures (3 MB)
- Entire Project: Roundabout at Route 663 with Traffic-Calming Measures (3 MB)
- Stevensburg Store Crossover (Updated) (159 KB)
- Roundabout at Route 663 (Updated) (248 KB)
- Entire Project: Dynamic Speed Detection Signs (Updated) (3 MB)
- Entire Project: Roundabout at Route 663 with Traffic-Calming Measures (Updated) (4 MB)
- Hansborough Ridge Crossover (111 KB)
- Van Wingerden Crossover (64 KB)
- Russell "Left Out" and Route 739 Crossover (193 KB)
Notes from July 11 Meeting of Route 3 Task Force (35 KB)
Revised Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation (4 MB)
Revised Environmental Assessment Appendices (6 MB)
Final Memorandum of Agreement (5 MB)