WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Transportation Committee on Monday updated the county’s interstate, primary and secondary road improvement plans, then recommended them to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
The plans establish the county’s top road priorities, although many of the projects lack funding.
The top interstate improvement project is the funded $38.3 million replacement of the Millwood Pike (U.S. 17/50/522) bridge over Interstate 81’s exit 313, just east of Winchester. The seven-lane bridge was built in 1964 and is starting to deteriorate due to its age. Construction on the replacement bridge is expected to start in 2024. It will be constructed just north of the current bridge and will have nine lanes. Millwood Pike will be reconstructed to tie into the new bridge. The current average daily traffic across the bridge is 32,000 vehicles per day; the new bridge will be designed to handled 30,000 more vehicles daily.
The No. 2 interstate priority, which is currently unfunded, is realigning Redbud Road and making improvements to the I-81 exit 317 interchange for an estimated $11.5 million.
Two other major interstate projects, both unfunded, involve further improvements to I-81 exit 310 and relocating the I-81 exit 307 interchange near Stephens City. Town officials have stressed the need to relocate exit 307 to reduce traffic congestion in Stephens City. Relocating the exit would cost an estimated $241 million.
The top primary road projects are related to the four-phase extension of the Va. 37 bypass, which will loop around Winchester once completed. The project has been on the county’s wish list for years, but its more than $770 million cost has kept it from getting off the ground.
Other top primary road projects include the widening of various U.S. 11 locations in northern Frederick County.
As part of its secondary road plan, the county has eight roads scheduled for paving. The only project slated to begin this year is the paving of Laurel Grove Road (Route 608) for $301,063. The funds will come from the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
The plan calls for the paving of Old Baltimore Road, Middlefork Road and Timberlakes Lane to go out to bid next year.
Also included in the plan is a list ranking 17 road-paving projects that are unscheduled, which means there are no funds or plans for them to be paved within the next six years. The higher a road is on the unscheduled list, the more likely it will get bumped up to the scheduled list. The top five projects on the unscheduled list are Clark Road (Route 638), Heishman Road (Route 607), Glaize Orchard Road (Route 682), South Timber Ridge Road (Route 696) and Cougill Road (Route 634).
Frederick County Assistant Planning Director John Bishop told the Transportation Committee that a county resident wants Germany Road in the Back Creek District to be considered for paving. Committee member Gary Oates said the panel has not received enough information about the request and suggested waiting until next year to add it to the unscheduled list.
Also at the meeting, Bishop gave an update on a study being conducted by the Winchester-Frederick County Metropolitan Planning Organization to relocate Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522) along a new alignment incorporating Prince Frederick Drive.
The study came about because traffic volume is expected to soon exceed the capacity of the signalized intersection of Front Royal Pike with Millwood Pike (U.S. Routes 17/50) and the northbound entrance to I-81. Bishop presented the committee with various design alternatives the MPO is considering on how the relocation might look, with the preferred alternative costing an estimated $33.6 million. Bishop there is no estimated date for when the project may begin, as the study has not been finished and the project is unfunded.