The E-ZPass Express Lanes on Interstate 95 will be extended in Stafford County, and to Washington, D.C.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today in a press release that the express lanes in Stafford County would be extended two miles past Garrisonville Road. Two lanes will merge into one, and drivers will be able to continue past today’s final exit point at Garrisonville Road.
Drivers in the Express Lanes regularly sit in congestion at the terminus of the lanes in Stafford County. Those who don’t exit at Garrisonville Road will exit the lanes two miles south into the left travel lane of I-95, much like old traffic pattern at Dumfries before the December 2014 opening of the E-ZPass Express Lanes.
A right exit and flyover were built at Garrisonville Road so traffic exiting the Express Lanes could reenter mainline I-95 traffic into the right lane, not the left. Transit officials before the Express Lanes opening blamed heavy bottleneck traffic at Dumfries, in part on the left exiting – entering traffic pattern that existed there at the time.
The left exiting – entering ramp was closed, and a new right exit-enter ramp was built just before Joplin Road at Quantico.
Here are the full details on the governor’s plan for the Stafford terminus:
I-95 Express Lanes Southern Terminus
The project will extend 95 Express Lanes by approximately 2 miles past the point where the current flyover carries southbound traffic to Exit 143/Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. A single reversible lane would be built, eventually splitting into northbound and southbound merge ramps.
Southbound traffic in 95 Express Lanes will be able to continue driving past Exit 143 at Garrisonville Road. Southbound traffic will merge back into the mainline I-95 southbound lanes approximately 1,500 feet beyond the Garrisonville Road on-ramp to I-95 southbound. Traffic will merge into the left lane of I-95. This spacing will balance local and express lanes traffic entering I-95 southbound.
Northbound traffic can enter the 95 Express Lanes sooner. The new northbound entrance will be located approximately 1,000 ft. before the I-95 northbound off-ramp at Exit 143 to Route 1 at Aquia. Northbound traffic will merge into express lanes from the left lane.
Construction is estimated to begin in 2016 and take two years to complete. Work will primarily take place within the median and within the existing right-of-way. No personal or business property should be affected.
The Express Lanes carry drivers north toward Washington, D.C. in the mornings. The Express Lanes currently end at just before Duke Street in Alexandria. Single paying drivers must exit the lanes in the mornings, but vehicles with three one more occupants may continue using the HOV lanes to get to the 14th Street Bridge in Washington. These lanes are the last vestige of the old HOV system that spanned between Dumfries and the Pentagon.
All drivers who use the E-ZPass Express Lanes must have an electronic E-ZPass transponder in their vehicle. Single drivers pay a toll, and vehicles with three or more occupants in the car ride free with the E-ZPass.
Arlington County officials in the latter part of the last decade protested the conversion of HOV lanes to toll lanes by saying the lanes would mean more drivers would moving through the county, and more pollution from cars.
Then Virginia Transportation Secretary and former Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton struck a deal with the county, and private toll road operator Transurban to build the lanes as far north as Turkeycock Run, just before Duke Street in Alexandria.
Here’s the governor’s plan for the northbound extension:
I-395 Express Lanes Extension
The project will extend the 395 Express Lanes for eight miles north to the DC line. The project will convert and expand the existing HOV lanes on I-395 from Turkeycock Run north to the district to dynamically tolled express lanes.
An additional express lane will be built, providing three express lanes in the corridor.
There will be dedicated funding for new and enhanced transit services and carpooling incentives.
The work will be done by Transurban under the existing contract it has with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Construction is expected to begin in 2017, with the extended lanes opening to traffic in 2019.
Vehicles with three or more people will continue to use the express lanes for free. Solo drivers will have the choice to take general purpose lanes for free or use the express lanes for a variable toll.
The Osprey’s Golf Club at Belmont Bay will close Sunday, November 29.
The closure of the golf club brings and end to 18 years of play on a course located on the mixed-used residential and commercial development of Belmont Bay on the bank of the Occoquan River in Woodbridge.
The Osprey’s Restaurant located in the same clubhouse will remain open for business. It briefly closed in 2013, but later reopened for business.
The golf course will remain an open space, maintained by the developers of Belmont Bay. Residents will be able to walk and bike along the old golf cart paths.
The golf club has been losing money on the golf operation since it opened in 1997. The average round of golf costs about $40 at the public course.
“We’ve been supporting all of these loses over the years with sales of real estate to subsidize to keep the golf course open,” said Preston Miller, with Belmont Bay, LCC.
The club booked 27,000 rounds of golf in one year during its peak. Now less than 20,000 rounds of golf are played at the course annually.
“The revenue is just not there,” said Miller. “The sound business decision would have been to close it down years ago.”
Belmont Bay is located in the northern portion of Woodbridge, behind the Woodbridge Virginia Railway Express station. Home sales are up in the neighborhood, in large part because of Belmont Bay’s convenient location to commuter rail and Interstate 95.
“The golf course has always been nice but not a must-have,” said Cindy Jones, who sells homes in Belmont Bay. “The draw of this community is that it is a nice location, it’s a small community, and neighbors can to walk around and get to know each other.”
Miller is a third-generation member of the Caruthers Family — the developers of Belmont Bay. He said the project has not taken off as planned due to the lack of a promised interchange at Routes 1 and 123.
Complete with a flyover, the interchange would connect drivers with Express and Belmont Bay drives, become the main entrance way to the neighborhood. Route 1 is being widened in Woodbridge from Mary’s Way north to the Occoquan River, to include an interchange at Routes 1 and 123.
A flyover ramp from the interchange into the Belmont Bay neighborhood has been designed, but $100 million in funds to build the ramp have yet to be found, said Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi.
A new science center to be operated by George Mason University is under construction on the bank of the Occoquan River at Belmont Bay, and so are eight new town homes — four of which are sold to new homeowners. A new corner market also just opened for business in front of the neighborhood’s marina.
November 24, 2015
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November 9, 2015
The number of Thanksgiving travelers leaving the Washington area is expected to decrease this year.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says fewer drivers will hit the road to grandma’s house for the annual holiday. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year.
It’s not a huge decrease, as AAA notes about 0.2% fewer area residents will leave home this Thanksgiving than did last year. Many area residents travel 50 miles or more to Thanksgiving destinations, and for vacations, states AAA.
Last year, roadways saw the most travelers over the Thanksgiving holiday since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007. AAA states that despite improving economy, falling unemployment rates, and fuel prices remain low, fewer people plan to travel.
“Curiously, the number of travelers departing from the Washington metro area will remain flat this Thanksgiving, despite an unemployment rate that continues to decline and the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in seven years,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “The family car remains the preferred mode of travel for Thanksgiving. The automobile share of Thanksgiving travel has hovered near 90 percent since the recession as budget-conscious consumers have tended toward car trips.”
In 2014, eight people were killed in vehicle crashes on Virginia’s roads and highways. It was the lowest number of deaths recorded over the holiday weekend in a decade.
The number of fatalities from auto crashes in Virginia for 2015, at 652 lives lost, tops the 633 fatalities on state roads by the same time last year. Drivers can expect to see more state police patroling the highways as part of an initiative they’re calling “drive to save lives.”
“State police will have the majority of its uniformed workforce on patrol from Wednesday through Sunday of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Our goal is not to see how many summonses can be issued and traffic violators arrested over the holiday. The purpose of having our troopers out there on Virginia’s highways is to remind the motoring public of the importance of traffic safety and to deter aggressive, dangerous, reckless, and impaired driving. We are prepared to do our job to make Virginia safer, and we thank those people already driving to save lives. But, as evident by the spike in traffic deaths this year, we still need more drivers and passengers to do their part by buckling up, complying with speed limits, sharing the road, and never driving impaired or distracted.”
There is some very good news for travelers in Virginia, from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“VDOT is suspending highway work zones during the five-day peak Thanksgiving travel period to reduce congestion on interstates and major highways. Lane closures will be lifted on most major roads in Virginia from noon Wednesday, Nov. 25, until noon Monday, Nov. 30.”
What times are the best times to travel when headed out of town? In our area, the earlier you can get away Wednesday the better off you’ll be. Traditionally, congestion on Interstate 95 south begins to build between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and remains heavy through the evening, especially through Woodbridge.
Traffic is traditionally light on Thanksgiving Day, and few backups are seen on area highways during peak day hours on the day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Returning home from Thanksgiving, highway conditions on I-95 become congested during the afternoons on Saturday and Sunday, so you’ll want to leave early. The Virginia Department of Transportation explains this in a video posted below.
The second of two suspects connected to the November 1 murder of Gilbert Kindard in Dale City turned himself into police.
Here’s more in a police press release:
Murder Investigation *ARREST – On November 22nd, Byron KING turned himself into police without incident at the Gar-Field Station in Woodbridge. This individual was the remaining suspect wanted in connection to the murder of Gilbert KINARD which occurred in the 15200 block of Brazil Cir in Woodbridge on November 1st. The other suspect, LamarLEWIS, was previously located and arrested on November 17th in Georgia by members of the Atlanta U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force.
Arrested on November 22nd:
Byron Alan KING, 30, of the 2700 block of Beechtree Ln in Woodbridge
Charged with murder
Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond
A teenager lost her life after the car she was riding in collided with another vehicle.
Here’s more in a police press release:
Fatal Crash Investigation – On November 6th at 10:35PM, officers responded to the area of Jefferson Davis Hwy and Powells Creek Blvd in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate a two vehicle crash. The investigation revealed that the driver of a 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis was attempting a left turn against a red turn signal from southbound Jefferson Davis Hwy onto eastbound Powells Creek Blvd when the vehicle collided with the driver of a 2013 Toyota Avalon who was traveling in the northbound lanes. A passenger of the Avalon was transported to an area hospital where she later died from her injuries on November 18th. The driver of the Avalon sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene. Speed, alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors in this crash. The driver of the Grand Marquis was initially charged with reckless driving at the scene. The investigation continues.
The passenger of the 2013 Toyota Avalon was identified as Arlinda WATERS, 66, of Springfieldd
The driver of the 2013 Toyota Avalon was identified as a 65 year old man of Springfield
The driver of the 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis was identified as Jasmine Janelle JOHNSON, 24, of 15084 Cardin Pl in Woodbridge
*This story has been corrected. An earlier version incorrectly identified the victim as a 19-year-old woman.
On October 11, 2015, former Aquinas student, Colby Thomas Smith, passed away tragically in a dirt bike accident.
Colby’s parents formed the charity, Colby’s Ride, in his memory to provide bicycles and helmets for underprivileged youth in our community.
Students and faculty/staff at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School (Aquinas) mourned the loss of former Aquinas student, Colby Thomas Smith, along with his parents, family and friends. When news of Colby’s passing was shared, our Aquinas community came together in prayer and comfort provided by our Catholic faith.
Colby and his family were remembered several times in prayer including the recitation of the Holy Rosary by a gathering of our school community, grief counseling was provided for his classmates, and faculty/staff and students attended his funeral at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church.
Inspired by their son and his love of bike sports, Colby parents, Keri Farley and Zach Smith, created a charity bearing his name, Colby’s Ride. The charity will provide bicycles and helmets to underprivileged children in this area. Our students and parents were eager to support Colby’s Ride, so Aquinas Admissions Director, Ms. Cardinale, suggested a Penny Competition to raise funds for this worthy cause.
A penny competition is traditionally held between the boys and girls at Aquinas, with the intent of providing an accessible way for our students to participate by contributing their own pocket money. Large water bottles are marked separately as “boys” and “girls” for this competition.
Each team places pennies in their own bottle to count positively towards a final total, and students can place silver coins and paper bills in the opposing team’s bottle to count negatively against that team. This year, the girls won bragging rights in winning the Penny Competition but helping the less fortunate in our neighborhood is an important act of mercy for all of our students.
Our Penny Competition raised a total of $1,198.37 for Colby’s Ride in just four days.
“Our school community was deeply affected by Colby’s death and he was fondly remembered by all. It was an important part of the healing process for our students to be able to participate in this fundraiser to honor Colby’s memory and to extend our love and support to his parents,” said Sister Kateri Rose Masters, O.P., Principal at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School.
St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School will present the Penny Competition funds to Colby’s mother for Colby’s Ride, on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at 2 p.m., in the school Hall. Students in our fifth grade classes who were his classmates (until this year when he transferred to a public school) will participate in this event.
Fifth grade student, Kayley Benway, made posters to help raise support for Colby’s Ride. She and another fifth grade student received a Colby’s Ride t-shirt from Ms. Farley. We are pleased to support Colby’s Ride with the student-driven fundraising initiative of the Penny Competition.
Prayer, acts of mercy and community service are intrinsic to student life at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School.
Come for the Manassas Christmas parade, stay for lunch and learn why historic Santa wears red, white, and blue
On Saturday, December 5, Manassas will host its annual Christmas Parade in Downtown.
Why not make a day of it and come have lunch with Santa Claus at the Old Manassas Courthouse located at 9248 Lee Avenue in Manassas, at the corner of Lee and Grant avenues. He’ll be once again dusting off that old patriotic suit of red, white, and blue for his visit.
The suit, which resembles our nation’s flag was created by famed German Born cartoonist Thomas Nast and first appeared in Harper’s Weekly on January 3, 1863 and was used as a recruiting piece for the northern war effort during the Civil War.
Santa was illustrated giving Christmas gifts to soldiers outside Fredericksburg, and was meant to soften the blow suffered by the Federal Army under General Ambrose Burnside earlier in December of 1862.
The menu will consist of oven roasted turkey, honey baked ham, home-style mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, freshly cut bacon herbed green beans, fresh cranberry sauce, giant cookies, and freshly baked pumpkin pie.
Beverages will include spiced apple cider, freshly brewed coffee, and hot chocolate. After lunch, bring your camera for a picture with Santa and an opportunity to discuss your Christmas list with him.
Then make an authentic 19th Century Christmas decoration to take home. Participants are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots.
The cost is $20 per person ages 11 and up, and $10 for children 10 and younger. Lunch will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Ball Room.
Elevator access is available to those who need it. For more information or to make a reservation please contact the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division at (703) 792-4754.
How a VRE extension to Haymarket and Gainesville could bring the closure of a popular Manassas line station
The Broad Run Station is the first stop on the Manassas commuter rail line on weekday mornings and the last each weekday afternoon.
And it could become a thing of the past.
Virginia Railway Express is conducting a study of a proposed 11-mile extension of the system’s Manassas line to Gainesville and Haymarket called the GHX. If service is expanded, trains will travel along what’s known as Norfolk-Southern’s “B line” from Haymarket to Gainesville, to Innovation Park at George Mason University Science and Technology Campus, and then travel the main line through Manassas onto Washington D.C.’s Union Station.
The 2-year GHX study will indicate how much it would cost to expand the state’s only commuter railroad, and identify any impacts to the environment that could be caused by an expansion. Up to two additional tracks could be needed to accommodate the extra passenger trains — up to two an hour during peak periods – as well as the existing freight traffic that currently uses the line.
Extra trains would mean VRE needs more placed to store them. An existing storage yard at the Broad Run / Manassas Airport station in an obvious choice. That yard would need to be expanded, leaving little room left for the rail station.
“We’re up against the airport on one side, and a flood plain on another,” said VRE CEO Doug Allen. The two-lane street Piper Lane leading to the station is often flooded out after rains when Broad Run spills its banks.
The study will examine whether or not to move the station further east along the line, to somewhere near the Prince William Chamber of Commerce building on Capital Court, or further west of the airport. The study could also suggest closing the station altogether, and that would mean those who use the station today would need to drive about three miles north to a new station that would be built at Innovation Park.
The Broad Run station is popular with not only Prince William County and Manassas residents but also those who drive in from neighboring Fauquier County and points west to access the VRE system. VRE would need to negotiate land deals for the three new stations. The commuter railroad would most likely need to buy land in which to build the stations.
Allen said a spur off of the B line into Innovation Park would be necessary to make the station more convenient for riders to access. That would allow riders to walk to nearby destinations like the University, Freedom Aquatics and Fitness, and Hylton Performing Arts centers, as well as the many life sciences labs and offices popping up in the area.
If reverse commuting service from Washington on the Manassas and Fredericksburg lines is implemented, trains could bring students and employees to Innovation Park, increasing the need for walkability.
VRE on November 16 opened up it’s first new station since the original commuter rail system opened in 1992, in Spotsylvania County. It sits on 22 acres of land — most of which is used for riders who park their cars during the day and catch the train to work.
“It’s big,” said Allen, of the Spotsylvania property.
The Gainesville-Haymarket study will determine how much land would be required for the three new proposed stations on the B line. Those stations could be the same land footprint as the Spotsylvania station.
Small Business Saturday follows Black Friday, and both days fall on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the Christmas season.
The Prince William Chamber of Commerce posted its list of deals from local businesses looking to bring in shoppers on Small Business Saturday.
Applied Fitness Cycle
10 classes (valued at $180) on sale for $75
1 Month membership (includes full Golds Gym Manassas Membership) valued at $109 on sale for $49
Porsha’s Floral Creations
Offer: Take a class on lighted holiday florals. Bring your own unique container new or old. Participate in an interactive class designing holiday arrangements designed to fit your decor with a variety of colored lights and supplies to choose from.
Take 10% off any item in the shop when you take the class. First class 1-3, Second class 4-6. Special accomodations for groups.
Cost: $20 per person (includes light refreshments & optional cookie exchange). Click the link above and mention Potomac Local to make reservations.
KIDS FIRST Swim Schools
Offer: Sign up for any 6 Week Swim Program and your name will be added to our
free Birthday Splash Party Giveaway. ($200.00 value)- Multiple winners will be chosen.
DLM Innovative Arts
Offer: 20% OFF Graphic Design Service. See website for list of services. Does not include printing, shipping or web programming. One offer per business. Exp. 12.31.15.
The Smart Car Wash
Offer: 15% OFF any wash or detail service (excluding Exterior Only, $5 wash)
Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store
Offer: Get 10% off on Small Business Saturday when you use your American Express Card at Echoes, your destination for distinctive gifts with a local flair.
Offer: 20% off of guided tours and all non-alcoholic beverage KO Distilling products, including hats, hoodies, shirts, glassware, flasks and 1, 2 and 5-liter charred oak barrels supplied by Manassas’s own 1,000 Oaks Barrel company.
7800 Sudley Road, Manassas
Offer: Open a new qualifying PNC business checking account and a new PNC merchant Services account and receive a $200 bonus. Ask for Carmen Rivas.
Smoothie King (Manassas)
10048 Market Circle Drive in Manassas.
Offer: Get any 32oz. medium for only $5
There’s also plenty more shops in the City of Manassass, as you can see from this Promoted Post.
The Town of Occoquan is decked out for Christmas.
Shops in town have window displays set for Santa and his elves, and for shoppers looking to find something special in one of the many unique shops in the tiny town.
In December, the carolers will participate in the first “WinterFest” event. Singers belting out Christmas carols will walk the town streets on December 12 as part of the festival which takes place in the town, at Tacketts Mill Shopping Center, and at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.
November 19, 2015
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November 17, 2015