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Resident speaks out on traffic

Woman says VDOT should consider interchange on Interstate 66 to mitigate increase of vehicles

By Ben Orcutt -- borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Shenandoah Shores Road resident Sarah Whittaker says that an interchange at Interstate 66 is needed before any more residential development occurs in the Happy Creek Road area.

Sarah Whittaker stands by her mailbox
Sarah Whittaker stands by her mailbox and expresses concerns about the traffic issues on Shenandoah Shores Road. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Whittaker, 79, has lived on Shenandoah Shores Road for nearly 44 years and is keenly aware of the traffic that uses the two-lane thoroughfare that connects Happy Creek Road with the Happy Creek Technology Park, Christendom College and Shenandoah Shores subdivision.

Whittaker also has been following the rezoning request of David Vazzana, president of Front Royal Limited Partnership, for roughly 150 acres in the area of Happy Creek Road and Mary's Shady Lane from residential estate to a denser residential zoning to allow for 320 single-family homes, as opposed to 75 to 99 that could be built by right.

The request is pending before the Front Royal Planning Commission, which has scheduled a work session on the rezoning for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall, with an eye toward recommending approval or denial to the Town Council on Sept. 16.

In Whittaker's opinion, improvements being offered by Front Royal Limited Partnership to Shenandoah Shores Road and its intersection with Happy Creek Road and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks won't help to mitigate the additional 4,000 vehicle trips per day that the development is anticipated to generate.

"That's not gonna help it," Whittaker said Thursday. "Because, they want to put Mary's Shady Lane over on [Shenandoah Shores Road]. But they still don't want to put the cloverleaf in on 66. I won't even be able to get out on the road here. They'd have to put a red light out here at our driveway just so you could get on the road."

Instead, Whittaker suggests that Vazzana petition the Virginia Department of Transportation to reconsider putting in an interchange on I-66 at Shenandoah Shores Road.

"You can see how the traffic is here and that's 24 hours a day," Whittaker said. "It's beyond bad. I'd like to see them put the cloverleaf in. There's nothing gonna help any more than that cloverleaf. You will not have the traffic going across this railroad. That'll take I'd say 50 percent of the pressure, probably more, 50 percent at least, off that railroad."

Vazzana weighed in via a Thursday e-mail.

"Whether we proceed with a by-right development or the proposed, the Mary's Shady Lane issue is an issue that will be decided by the courts and not the Town Planning Commission or the Town Council," Vazzana said of his pending lawsuit to reroute Mary's Shady Lane.

"The issue in front of the P.C. is whether to increase the property's current zoning of 1 unit an acre to a maximum density of 2.2 units per acre in exchange for proffers," Vazzana added. "The proffer package includes between 3.5 and 4.5 million dollars in road improvement to the local transportation network. These improvements include new turn lanes in both directions and a traffic light at Happy Creek Road's intersection with [Va.] 606 [Shenandoah Shores Road] at the beginning of the project.

"An interchange has been in the planning picture for a while now and getting 3.5 to 4.5 million dollars in area transportation improvements in the nearer term would certainly be an exciting step toward that community goal."

Planning Commission member Sandra Charles does not think the interchange Whittaker is seeking is likely.

"We've all thought that would be good, but VDOT has said no and they're cutting back all the time, so I can't see that they would justify that for what's going on now," Charles said. "Ever since I've been on the planning commission it's always been said that VDOT does not have any plans to put an interchange out there and now with the cutbacks, I just don't see how in the foreseeable future that this will happen."

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