VDOT still has a huge amount of catchup

Opinion

As the weather warms and summer nears, we are approaching the road mowing and paving season in Northern Virginia. Several paving projects are coming to eastern Prince William County and northern Stafford County in the 36th District.

VDOT plans to pave I-95 from Neabsco Creek to Smoketown Road, all of VA-123 and Old Bridge Road from VA-123 to Minnieville. Cardinal Drive will get a new surface from U.S. 1 to Minnieville as well.  Southbridge will see new blacktop in on Wayside Lane, Pine Ridge Boulevard and several surrounding streets.  VDOT will pave the entire length of Joplin Road from U.S. 1 to Bristow Road and all the streets of the entire town of Quantico. The Main Street between Curtis Drive and Quantico Gateway Drive through Dumfries is also scheduled to be repaved.

Many of Stafford County’s secondary roads are in better condition than streets in other areas since many are newer.  In northeastern Stafford County, VDOT will resurface half a dozen streets around Dorothy Lane and Anita Drive in Garrisonville with all of Stefaniga Road.

Legislature Addressed Road Neglect

Over 70% of Northern Virginia’s secondary roads, roads numbered over 600, have been rated as having substandard pavement quality and despite my efforts, the state legislature has not met the challenge. From 1987 to 2013, the Virginia General Assembly refused to raise Virginia’s $0.17/gallon gas tax to even keep up with inflation.  As salaries, the cost of materials and infrastructure needs all increased, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had to prioritize funds for other critical maintenance needs.  As a result, VDOT limited grass mowing, prioritized primary and interstate highway maintenance and curtailed secondary road paving. Deficient road pavement has been a consistent, frequent complaint since I have been in office these last six years.

In 2013, the legislature replaced the retail fixed gas tax with a wholesale percentage gas tax plus an overall sales tax supplement, steps which restored some roads and maintenance funding .  We also passed a series of local taxes to fund transportation construction, but these taxes do not apply to Stafford County which is in the Fredericksburg Transportation District.  Last year, VDOT started a major phase of paving in our communities as the direct result of this infusion of funds.

VDOT tries to bid out paving projects based on need and geographic location.  Contractors may provide competitive bids when projects are conducted all within compact areas.  This is why VDOT usually does not repave random streets miles apart (there are some exceptions).  Also, typically, not but always, roads in entire neighborhoods tend to deteriorate at the same rate.     

If you would like to see a more detailed map including your specific street you can go to my online newsletter, The Dixie Pig at scottsurovell.blogspot.com or you can go to www.virginiaroads.org.

I am pleased that VDOT is finally taking steps to properly maintain our roadways, but VDOT still has a huge amount of catchup ahead.  Nearly every secondary road in Woodbridge still has substandard pavement quality and after this summer, and over 50 percent of Virginia’s 36th Senate District’s roads will still need repaving.  You can find a map of the 36th Senate District at https://scottsurovell.net/district-36.

If you review the entire Northern Virginia map at www.virginiaroads.org, you can see that we are very lucky to be getting attention this summer given the massive backlog.  I am working to make our area a continuing priority after this year.

Our experience over the last two decades is a basic lesson in the consequences of starving basic government services.  If we do not keep our revenues commensurate with our needs, from schools to health clinics to roads, infrastructure and quality of life will suffer.  In 2013, with bipartisan support, the state legislature addressed the transportation revenue shortfall and you are now seeing the results. These steps can likely save your family an alignment or a tire or two. 

If you have any questions or complaints, please contact me at scott@scottsurovell.org.  It is an honor to a state delegate and I look forward to earning your vote as your State Senator.

*Scott Surrovell is currently serving as a delegate in Virginia, and is seeking a seat in the State Senate.

Call to Action: Tax holiday for disaster supplies

News

Good morning  – Come celebrate National Trails Day and Clean the Bay Day on Saturday June 6th at Leesylvania State Park from 10am-5pm. The morning activity includes removing trash from the streams. Be sure to wear bug spray, sunscreen and closed toed shoes that you don’t mind getting a little muddy. The afternoon activity includes clearing of trails. This is the ultimate see your hard work’s accomplishment. Please call the park at (703) 583-6904 for more info.

· Brain Injury Services is looking for volunteers to help with programming efforts with the volunteer programs. Please call Michelle at (703) 451-8881 ext.232 to learn more.

· Division of Historic Preservation is gearing up for spring projects at the Julie Metz Wetlands Preserve in Woodbridge. Volunteers are needed to help with trail and stream clean-up, development of interpretive materials and education programs. These volunteer opportunities continue through the fall. Please call Rebecca at (703) 499-9812 to learn more about this county treasure.

· Tax Holiday time! May 25th-31st is set aside this year as our state tax holiday for you to stock up on disaster supplies for you and your family. Please visit: vaemergency.gov full the full list.

· Historic Manassas is looking for volunteers to help with the 21st Annual Railway Festival on Saturday June 6th in Old Town Manassas. Duties include line control, directional, helping with games and activities. This is a super fun event. Please email Erin at: erin@historicmanassasinc.org to learn more.

· Virginia Dept. of Health needs volunteer actors at their next exercise on Thursday June 4th first thing in the morning. Please stop by the Costco at Potomac Mills for a few minutes to help in this simulation and grab your free hot breakfast on the way out the door. Please go to: prepareprincewilliam.com to register. Keep Reading…

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Woodbridge man hit by tractor-trailer in crosswalk

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At 4:15 a.m. this morning, Prince William police responded to a call in the area of Jefferson Davis Highway and Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge, to investigate a vehicle crash.

According to Prince William police, their investigation showed that a pedestrian – identified as 44-year old Woodbridge man Noe Zarte Mares – was crossing Jefferson Davis Highway when he was hit by a 2005 Freightliner tractor-trailer.

The tractor-trailer driver – identified as a 51-year old South Carolina man – was traveling southbound on Jefferson Davis Highway, said Prince William police.

Mares was pronounced dead at the scene, stated Prince William police. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

Prince William police stated that Mares was in the crosswalk at the time of the crash, but the crosswalk signal was not activated. When Mares entered the roadway, the traffic light had transitioned from red to green.

This is the third fatal crash this year in Prince William County.

Manassas high school given award, $5.5K by Grammy Foundation

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Osbourn High School’s performing arts department was given the Grammy Foundation Signature Enterprise Award for their work with students on music education.

During a ceremony, members of the department received the award, along with a $5,500 check to help fund future music programs, said a Manassas City Public Schools release.

“The contribution will allow students greater access to music studies by incorporating the latest in music technology into the program at Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS),” said a release.

Osbourn was one of the 13 schools across the United States to be given distinction as a 2015 Grammy Signature School back in March, said a release.

Food distributor to bring facility, 100 jobs to Prince William

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The food distribution industry is expanding in Prince William, as Reinhart Foodservice – the 5th largest food distributor in the United States – announced they would build a distribution hub in the county.

According to a release from the Prince William County Economic Development Department, Reinhart will be investing in a facility in the county, and bringing in 100 new jobs.

Currently the company has more than 65,000 customers, 16,000 employees and $23 billion in annual sales.

“We are delighted to welcome Reinhart, our newest addition of Reyes Holdings businesses to Prince William County. Just one year ago we revised our targeted industry sectors to attract additional ‘growth industries’ to the County.  Having an industry leader, like Reinhart join our growing food services distribution companies reaffirms this decision,” said board of supervisors Chairman At-Large Corey Stewart in a release.

Reinhart will be joining another business – the Martin Brower Company – that has a facility in Manassas.

James Reyes, chairman of Reyes Holdings, stated that the proximity to major roadways and the customer base are major reasons why Prince William could see continued business growth.

“Our new location, which is situated just off of Interstate 66 offers immediate access to rail, allows us to optimize delivery times and better serve our core customers based in the Greater Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond,” said Reyes.

 

NewsChat: Burning rail car, bourbon tastings popular events at Manassas Museum

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manassas museum

Elizabeth Via-Gossman is the director of the Manassas Museum System. At the center of the organization is the Manassas Museum in Downtown Manassas.

Through its many exhibits, the museum tells the story of the railroad city from its early beginnings during the Civil War up until today. We wanted to learn more about the inner workings of the Manassas Museum and Via-Grossman took some time out of her day to answer some of our questions.

PL: What makes your museum unique to our community? What special exhibits do you feature, and why do you think your museum has become a favorite of those who visit you? Please also mention who is a typical visitor at your museum.

Via-Gossman: We are fortunate to be the stewards of seven historic sites as well as our museum and lawn, which are central to Historic Downtown Manassas. We are able to share a vast collection of artifacts with visitors, and to share our love of history with visitors of all ages. We are aware of the serious responsibility we have to preserve our area’s history, to educate new generations, and to provide citizens and visitors with a rich cultural and recreational resource. We love when visitors of all ages leave learning something they never knew before.

Also on NewsChat: Celebrating saving the Mary Washington House

PL: What challenges has your museum faced over the years, from getting out the word about your organization, to securing and maintaining funding? How did you overcome them?

Via-Gossman: Like any museum, we have to find diverse ways to let area residents and visitors know about all exhibits, programs, and sites. The way people get their information has changed so much from the days when everyone read a local newspaper. Now many of our visitors love to get our postcards, some like emails, and some rely on our website, signs, and area calendars. We’re always delighted when we have first-time visitors who have lived here but have not known about the museum, Liberia or other historic sites.

Through the years, we have been fortunate to secure many private donations and grants that have helped enhance such things as exhibits, programs and restoration at Liberia. We appreciate that The Manassas Museum Associates, our fund-raising arm, has been a steady source of support for all our efforts, and as a city-funded museum, we are continually grateful for the support of our city government and our citizens.

PL: Has your museum put our area “on the map” of cultural and community significance?  Please discuss some of the unique items that can only be found in your museum. Keep Reading…

Dumfries questions success of town parks and rec events

News

A three-on-three basketball tournament in Dumfries was billed as a big community event.

It was held Saturday, May 16, and it was anything but, according to Mayor Jerry Foreman.

“We had three middle-schoolers, three highs-schoolers, and some adults there. I call them adults because they had already graduated high school,” said Foreman.

Instead of a tournament, the event quickly turned into a coaching clinic due to a small turnout of participants. And that sparked a debate over the future of the town’s parks and recreation commission. Not yet 2-years-old, the commission plans events like these and others, like outdoor concerts and movies on the lawn.

Dumfries Councilman Derrick Wood pushed for the creation of the Commission and serves as its Chairman. He said the basketball tournament was the first parks and recreation event that fizzled. Wood said he didn’t attend because he had to work his day job.

The Mayor and other members of the Town Council have repeatedly called for a listing of events to be held by the parks and recreation commission for the next 30 and 60 days. The list would also track the interest of community members and business vendors, and could give town officials a better idea if an event is going to be successful, or if they should call it off.

“What’s the measure of success?” asked Wood. “If it’s just one or two citizens that come out and participate – as long as we’re planning and holding these events – I think we are a success.”

Councilwoman Gwen Washington said event attendance is an important measure of the success or failure of events. She also called for producing more printed fliers to advertise town events and then distributing them to school children so they can bring them home to parents.

Councilman Cliff Brewer cited a recently-passed town zoning ordinance that prohibited town officials from hanging up a banner across Main Street or attached to the outside wall of Town Hall to advertise events to passersby.

“We can’t even advertise our own events here. We’re pretty much cutting our own legs off,” said Brewer.

Wood said his parks and recreation commission needs to fill two positions on the board, and that would help the Commission better plan and execute events.

That could come as a help to town staff who have apparently been overworked, taking on more responsibilities to assist with Parks and Recreation events. Especially Dumfries Director of Community Services Ryan Gandy.

“I fear I am going to lose Mr. Gandy,” said Town Manager Daniel Taber. “He’s looking for another job. He hasn’t told me that. Others have.”

Taber presented a series of emails to the Town Council he says showed Gandy attempting to obtain information in an attempt to help coordinate parks and recreation events. All fell on deaf ears, said Taber.

The Dumfries Parks and Recreation Commission was scheduled to meet Wednesday night, May 20. A report about their meeting is slated to be reviewed at the next Town Council meeting on June 2.

Former county employee pleads guilty to indecent exposure

News

Raymond Utz, the former Planning Assistant Chief for Prince William County pled guilty yesterday in court to two counts of indecent exposure.

The incident took place in November 2014 in Woodbridge, according to Prince William police.
According to a Prince William police release, the victim – a 38-year old woman, said that she was stopped at an intersection when Utz pulled beside her vehicle and exposed himself, making obscene sexual gestures.

Prince William police also stated in a report that Utz had been involved in another encounter like this earlier that day.

Utz had worked for the county since 2003, and was fired shortly after the incident, said Jason Grant – a spokesman for Prince William County.

Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert stated that the judge assigned a $2,500 for each count ($5,000 total) and 30 days of jail time for each count (60 total) as sentencing in the case – but Utz may not be required to pay the fines or serve the time.

“The jail time and fnes were suspended, [contingent] on his mental treatment. If he successfully completes the treatment, that’ll be the end of it. He won’t have to pay the fines or serve 60-days,” said Ebert.

When asked, Ebert stated that Utz will not be placed on any kind of sex offender registry and that he is currently receiving mental health treatment.

“He is to have no contact with the victims or anyone else [involved],” said Ebert.

They’ve been buying and riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Manassas for 30 years

Harley davidson, manassas, motorcycles

Mayor Harry J. Parrish II congratulated Whitt’s Harley-Davidson this week on their 30th Anniversary. Whitt’s is the oldest dealership in Northern Virginia and will be celebrating their anniversary with year long activities. This includes taking part in Rolling Thunder on Sunday, May 24 and an open house on Saturday, May 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We enjoy celebrating these milestones with City businesses,” said City Manager William Patrick Pate. “The City looks forward to the next 30 years working with Whitt’s Harley-Davidson.”

See more photos of the Whitt’s Harley-Davidson 30th anniversary celebration.

This dealership has been in business since March 1985. The current Center Street location, formerly Southern States, was built in 1957. It still has the railroad tracks in the back of the property. In June 1998, T. Ellsworth Davison purchased the property and relocated his dealership from a 5,000 square foot building to the current 30,000 square foot building. The renovated showroom gleams with new paint and chromed Harley motorcycles.

The City of Manassas values all of its businesses, whether they are new to the City, like Manassas Olive Oil or Totally Vintage Designs, or they are celebrating a monumental anniversary, like Whitt’s Harley-Davidson.

Also celebrating a momentous anniversary is Heltzel Mortgage. They are celebrating 50 years in business. Originally founded in 1965 as the Robert Heltzel Company, became the Hetzel Mortgage Corporation in 1980. Heltzel Mortgage will be celebrating their 50th with a free community concert at the Harris Pavilion on May 29 from 7 to 11 p.m.

The City of Manassas is proud of Whitt’s Harley Davidson and all of those businesses that have such a long history of success in Manassas. Especially during Business Appreciation Month, it is important to make acknowledgements of these successes. If you or someone you know is celebrating a milestone anniversary, let us know at 703-257-8881.

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