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Route 3 Improvement, Culpeper County

Widening of Route 3 between Stevensburg and Lignum

Project at a Glance

Begin Date
Design-build contract awarded Oct. 24, 2013

Est Completion Date
May 4, 2017

Cost
$23,593,000 million design-build contract

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

Contractor
Branch Highways Inc.

Locality
Culpeper

District
Culpeper

Contact
Greg Cooley
434-906-7979

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To receive updates about the project, send an email to Route3Culpeper@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

Project Purpose

The project will improve a 5.1-mile section of Route 3 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane divided highway from Stevensburg to 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 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.
 

Project History

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: 

December 1995 - Location public hearing held.
1996 - The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved a northern bypass alignment for the four-lane improvements near Stevensburg in 1996
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.
June 2002 - VDOT recommended and the CTB approved Alternative B, 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 area's historic resources, requiring 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.

On March 23, 2011, a combined location and design public hearing was held, with 66 members of the public in attendance. Shortly after an additional community meeting was in held in Stevensburg to answer further questions, with 65 people attending. VDOT staff 
 

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.

Project Costs

Preliminary Engineering: $5.16 million

Right of Way and Utility Relocation: $7.61 million

Construction: $30.72 million

Total: $43,492,679 estimated cost
 

Resources and Links

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

Public hearing brochure Adobe Acrobat PDF (368 KB)

Aerial photo showing alternative alignments Adobe Acrobat PDF (5 MB)

Six-Year Improvement Program project listing

Department of Transportation Act of 1966 – Section 4(f)

Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review

News Release: Task Force Will Assist VDOT with Route 3 Design

Notes from May 6 Meeting of Route 3 Task Force

News Release: Task Force Will Meet June 6 in Stevensburg

Exhibits from June 6 Task Force Meeting:

Notes from June 6 Meeting of Route 3 Task Force Adobe Acrobat PDF (24 KB)

Agenda for July 11 Meeting of Route 3 Task Force Adobe Acrobat PDF (32 KB)

Exhibits from July 11 Task Force Meeting:

Notes from July 11 Meeting of Route 3 Task Force Adobe Acrobat PDF (35 KB)

Environmental documents:

    Revised Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation Adobe Acrobat PDF (4 MB)

    Revised Environmental Assessment Appendices Adobe Acrobat PDF (6 MB)

    Final Memorandum of Agreement Adobe Acrobat PDF (5 MB)    

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Page last modified: Oct. 23, 2014