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News

Traffic
Will a lack of crossings at the Bull Run River mean higher tolls on I-66?

Will a lack of points in which to cross the Bull Run River lead to congestion, and excessive tolls on the soon-to-be-built Interstate 66 E-ZPass Express Lanes? 

One Prince Willam County resident thinks so, and emailed VDOT (and us) about his concern: 

After reviewing the Transform I-66 design again, I am concerned about the lack of road network capacity over the Bull Run between Fairfax County and Prince William County.

This will lead to excessively high tolls with limited alternatives. I am mainly concerned about the I-66 Westbound Direction where traffic is currently being held back by the light at Braddock and Route 28 and the I-66 merge at the Fairfax County Parkway interchange.

Three lanes from US 29, two lanes from Braddock Road, one lane from Northborne/Walney, and two lanes from Route 28 Southbound will funnel into the five lanes of I-66 and one lane of US29 across the Bull Run. This will lead to significant backups that will limit access to the two Express lane entrances at the I-66/Route 28 interchange.

The NVTA Transaction Plan does not include any additional crossings of the Bull Run other than at Route 28 in Yorkshire. The Manassas Battlefield Bypass is not included in the NVTA Transaction plan.

Please consider applying the I-66 Corridor Improvements Payment to:

– Add a shoulder traffic lane between US29 Centreville and VA234 Business similar to the current shoulder lane configuration along I-66 between US 50 and the Capital Beltway. (Remove Rest Area)

– Add a two-lane road connection (with an adjacent bike facility) between Balls Ford Rd. in Prince William County and Bull Run Dr in Fairfax County over the Bull Run. (Interactive Map)

It should be noted the “Projected Year 2040 Peak Hour Traffic Volume Plots” shows a 2040 volume of 6,990 vehicles in 3 Lanes between US 29 Centreville and VA 234 Business which is not possible. 1,900 vehicles per lane is the maximum. This makes me question all the data projections in this project over the past six years.

Traffic
Changes ahead for OmniRide, OmniLink riders

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission has changes in store for riders on Dec. 4, 2o17 as part of its fall service change. 

From a press release: 

PRTC’s Winter Service Change will take effect on Monday, December 4. New schedule brochures will be available from operators upon request and timetables will be available online starting Monday, November 27.

The following routes will change; routes not listed below will not change.

OmniRide:

  • Dale City-Washington – One later D-100T trip will be added, starting at the PRTC Transit Center at 8:20 a.m.; AM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Dale City-Navy Yard – New routing and new stops in DC, now serving L’Enfant Plaza; first AM trip will start 30 minutes earlier; bus stop at Dale & Greenwood removed.
  • Lake Ridge-Washington OmniRide – AM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Lake Ridge-Pentagon/Crystal City – New routing in Crystal City to serve new stop at 18th Street Bus Bays; new AM stop at Eads & 13th; stops at 12th & Clark and 18th & Crystal eliminated.
  • Montclair-Washington – Will use South Route 1 OmniRide routing on 7th Street in DC; new stops at 7th & Independence.
  • South Route 1 – New stops at 7th & Independence.
  • Manassas-Washington OmniRide – PM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Manassas-Pentagon OmniRide – Last two PM trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots.
  • Gainesville-Washington OmniRide – Last two PM Manassas-Pentagon trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots; PM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Gainesville-Pentagon OmniRide – Last two PM Manassas-Pentagon trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots; one new AM and one new PM trip.

Metro Direct:

  • Prince William Metro Direct – Timetable changes; bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed.
  • Manassas Metro Direct – AM Timetable changes.

OmniLink: 

  • Woodbridge – Woodbridge VRE Station will be served by both A and B Loops; bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed; some timepoints will change.
  • Dale City – Bus stops at Dale & Greenwood removed; new stop at Troupe & Cordelia.
  • Route 1 – Bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed.
  • Manassas OmniLink – Timetable changes to better coordinate with Cross County Connector; bus stop at Sudley & Grant removed.
  • Manassas Park – Timetable changes to better coordinate with Cross County Connector.

Traffic
Virginia State Police crack down on HOV violators ahead of I-66 tolls inside Beltway

Virginia State Police targeted HOV violators on Interstate 66.

From a press release:

With the heaviest-travelled season of the year upon us, Virginia State Police initiated a traffic-safety HOV enforcement operation on Interstate 66 last Friday. The initiative was also in response to the numerous public complaints state police receives concerning abuse of the HOV lanes along the I-66 corridor in Northern Virginia.

During the morning and evening rush hours on Nov. 17, Virginia troopers issued the following summonses as a result of HOV violations on I-66:

1st offense HOV- 165 summonses
2nd offense HOV- 11 summonses
3rd offense HOV – 2 summonses

In addition, state police cited one driver for failing to wear a seatbelt and seven drivers for driving without a valid license. As a result of the traffic stops, state troopers also served two felony warrants and one misdemeanor warrants.

The stepped-up enforcement comes just as state highway officials prepare to user in tolls on new E-ZPass Express Lanes on I-66 inside the Capital Beltway. 

Starting in “early December,” according to the Virginia Department of Transportation, drivers who travel east on the highway between Dunn Loring and Washington, D.C. between the hours of 5:30 and 9 a.m. on weekdays, and in the reverse direction from 3 to 7 p.m. each weekday must have an E-ZPass because both lanes will be tolled.

Just as they are on express lanes on I-96 and 495, single drivers will pay a dynamic toll which will fluctuate depending on how much traffic is using the highway. Vehicles will two or more occupants may continue to use the lanes for free during these times with an E-ZPass Flex.

Today, only vehicles with two or more occupants are allowed on I-66 inside the beltway during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

The toll rules are in effect if you’re traveling to and from Dulles Airport, or if you drive a hybrid car as there is  no exemption based on clean special fuel license plate, according to VDOT.

However, motorcycles will still be able to travel for free without an E-Pass. 

News
I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes to bring sweeping changes from Gainesville to Dunn Loring

BRISTOW — If all goes as planned, Interstate 66 will expand to help alleviate Northern Virginia’s crushing traffic volume and boost public transportation by the end of 2022, according to Virginia traffic officials.

Dozens of area residents turned out Thursday for a public hearing on plans for widening I-66 to include tolled express lanes outside the Capital Beltway. Three regular lanes and two express lanes will run in both directions from Haymarket in Prince William County to Dunn Loring in Fairfax County.

In addition to the 22.5 miles of new E-ZPass Express Lanes, the project includes additional and expanded park-and-ride lots, bus service and transit routes, interchange improvements and bike trails.

“We’re looking at this as a multi-modal project,” Susan Shaw, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Northern Virginia megaprojects director, told the crowd. Once the project is completed, she said, the upgraded system will be able to move 2,000 to 4,000 more people per hour than it currently can.

The overflowing parking lot at Piney Branch Elementary School off Linton Hall Road underscored the need for traffic solutions in an area that typically ranks among the worst in the nation for commuting.

The meeting was the third and final public hearing on the project’s design, and it focused specifically on the segment of the project from Gainesville to Route 29 in Centreville. About a dozen members of the public addressed concerns with the project, including the lack of bike trails in Prince William County, the cost of tolls for commuters and the aesthetics of the proposed sound walls. Public comments will continue to be accepted through Nov. 29.

The I-66 “Outside the Beltway Project” is a public-private partnership between VDOT, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and a private partner, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, which is a consortium of Cintra, Meridiam, Ferrovial Agroman US and Allan Myers VA Inc. It’s expected to bring $3.5 billion in new construction to the region.

At the meeting, officials unveiled a video overview of the project showing what the completed project would look like. Planning for the massive expansion project began in 2011. The timeline calls for construction and right-of-way acquisition to begin in late 2017. That’s followed by additional parking spaces near Gainesville to be completed by summer 2019, and four traffic signals to be removed from Route 28 by summer 2020. The entire project is scheduled to be completed and tolling to begin by December 2022.

Groundbreaking is set for today, near the 1-66 and Route 28 interchange, with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and transportation officials expected to be on hand.

Once construction is underway, it will take place as needed throughout the corridor. Shaw said there would be no lane closures during peak traffic periods.

When they’re completed, the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes will use the same kind of “dynamic pricing,” which changes depending on the volume of traffic, that’s currently used on the E-ZPass Express Lanes on I-495 and I-95. Roadway sensors monitor traffic volumes, and toll prices adjust to manage demand for the lanes and keep traffic flowing. When there’s more traffic, prices will be higher. When there’s less traffic, prices will be lower.

Drivers with three or more occupants would be considered high occupancy vehicles and could use the express lanes free anytime with an E-ZPass Flex.

On the stretch of the I-66 project Inside the Beltway, tolling will begin in December. All lanes of I-66, from I-495 to U.S. Route 29 in Rosslyn, will become express lanes with tolls on weekdays during expanded rush hours in the peak direction — from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. on eastbound lanes and from 3 to 7 p.m. on westbound lanes. Carpoolers with two or more passengers can travel toll-free with an E-ZPass Flex, although that requirement will change to three passengers when the express lanes open outside the Beltway. The lanes inside the Beltway will remain free with no toll or HOV requirements at all other times.

Copies of the proposed designs for the project outside the Beltway are available at Transform66.org. They also are available for viewing at various locations throughout the area, including Prince William County government offices and regional libraries.

VDOT will be accepting additional public comment about the plan through Nov. 29. Email comments to Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov and include “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” in the subject line.

Comments also can be mailed to VDOT Northern Virginia District, Attention: Susan Shaw, P.E., Megaprojects Director, 4975 Alliance Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030.

“We want to continue the dialogue we’ve started with the community, both the traveling public and the neighboring communities,” Shaw said.

News
Prince William voter turnout up; new precincts remain on hold

Turnout was strong in Prince William County as voters braved the rain to cast their votes in the 2017 General Elections.

Almost half of Prince William County’s eligible voters went to the polls Nov. 7 to decide on the next governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and local House delegates.

A total of 122,612 votes were cast in the General Election, according to election officials. That equated to 45 percent of the county’s total 271,705 registered voters — an increase of 5.9 percent from the 2013 General Elections.

Despite Prince William County’s ongoing population growth and the increased participation by voters in an off-year election, election official reported no adverse effects.

“We saw no long lines this year and all of our precincts reported closed on time,”  Winston Forrest, the country’s election communications coordinator, said in an email.

A Potomac Local poll asked readers what issues were most important to them this election cycle.

Election officials have been seeking ways to offset long lines that have sometimes occurred at county polling places due to population growth, such as additional precincts.

The  Board of County Supervisors turned down a request earlier this year for a public hearing on the issue. But Forrest said potential changes remain on the table. “Yes, we are looking to add ten or so precincts next year,” he said. “A new request will be submitted to the Board of County Supervisors.”

Plans for where those new precincts could be located are undetermined. “We don’t have any information about the new precincts at this time,”  Michele White, the county’s director of elections and general registrar, said in an email.

The Board of Supervisors could once again take up the discussion next year.

Statewide, the Democratic candidates won all three top positions. In the governor’s race, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by a margin of 53.90 percent to 44.97 percent.  For lieutenant governor, Democrat Justin E. Fairfax  defeated Republican Jill Vogel by a margin of 52.72 percent to 47.18 percent. And in the race for attorney general, Democrat Mark R. Herring defeated Republican candidate John D. Adams by a margin of 53.34 percent to 46.56 percent.

Here’s a look at how Prince William County voted for statewide offices, according to Virginia’s Department of Elections:

  • Governor: Northam, 61.06 percent, over Gillespie’s 37.86 percent.
  • Lt. Governor: Fairfax, 60.61 percent, over Vogel’s 39.27 percent.
  • Attorney General: Herring, 60.47 percent, over Adams’ 39.41 percent.

In the House of Delegates, Democrats picked up seven out of the eight positions available in Prince William County. According to Virginia’s Department of Election, the results for members of House of Delegates representing Prince William County are as follows:

  • District 2: Democrat Jennifer Foy, 75.70 percent, over Republican Mike Makee.
  • District 13: Democrat Danica Roem, 52.60 percent, over Republican Robert Marshall.
  • District 31: Democrat Elizabeth Guzman, 60.37 percent, over Republican Scott Lingamfelter.
  • District 40: Republican Timothy Hugo, 57.51percent, over Democrat Donte Tanner.
  • District 50: Democrat Lee Carter, 55.79 percent, over Republican Jackson Miller.
  • District 51: Democrat Hala Ayala, 52.98 percent, over Republican Richard Anderson.
  • District 52: Democrat Luke Torian, 93.50 percent, with no Republican contender.
  • District 87: Democrat John Bell, 46.20 percent, over Republican Subba Kolla.

FreshySites designs, builds first e-commerce website for USA Volleyball

At FreshySites, we’re dedicated to taking our clients’ online presence to the next level through the creation of beautiful, clean and user-friendly websites.

With that mission front and center, we recently harnessed our commitment and passion to partner with WorldWide Sport Supply and create a website for a globally recognized brand and organization – USA Volleyball.

FreshySites was approached to create an E-Commerce website platform that would provide a scaleable solution for order management and fulfillment for the United States Volleyball Team.

Creating an E-Commerce website platform that can handle the high demand and order influx for a national brand has many moving parts.

One of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome was that this was to be the first E-Commerce site for USA Volleyball – ever.

Our team spent hours carefully planning and collaborating – internally and with our client – on the USA Volleyball site, mapping out its many components to ensure flawless functionality and launch.

After months of hard work, we created the USA Volleyball Shop – a modern and fully responsive E-Commerce website, allowing members and fans alike to easily purchase USA Volleyball swag on a beautiful, simple user interface for both desktop and mobile devices.

Explore the site’s different features, like the swatch zoom, which allows users to easily check out various color options for different products, or the sort options, allowing users to shop based on a product’s popularity, price, and rating.

From T-shirts to jackets to hats, there are loads of quality apparel products featured for men, women, and children – all sponsored by Adidas.

With the start of the Winter 2018 Olympics right around the corner, now is the time to explore this brand new site for any USA Volleyball fans you may know!

FreshySites is a regionally-focused company with national reach and operations.

FreshySites is a fast-growing website design firm dedicated to creating beautiful websites, while consistently delivering best-in-industry customer service and support. Founded in 2011, FreshySites has quickly expanded into the largest in-house WordPress web design shop on the East Coast.

Our Washington D.C. office was founded in 2012 by Vincent Consumano. With additional offices, we have the team, resources and tools to serve our local – and national – clients through website mockups, creative briefs, revision rounds, and Search Engine Optimization audits. FreshySites is determined to take our regional clients’ online presence to the next level, ultimately helping them to grow and thrive. Explore our website to learn more about us, see our portfolio of work and become a part of our client family today!

Traffic
Friendly or forceful? VRE discusses how to get Richmond to care about its funding needs

Amtrak launched the “state” trains back in 2009 when Tim Kaine was Virginia Governor.

Called the Northeast Regional, Virginia officials took on a portion of the cost to run passenger service between the cities Richmond and Lynchburg, New York City and Boston. The Lynchburg route was expanded in October to serve Roanoke.

Today, ridership on those two Amtrak routes in Virginia continue to rise.

Here are some stats from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation:

• The Lynchburg route (now the Roanoke route after its extension to the Star City on October 31, 2017) also runs a daily round trip to Washington, D.C. It served 189,811 riders in FFY 2017, increasing by 2.7 percent.

• The Newport News Route, which has two daily round trips to Washington, D.C., served 331,308 riders, increasing by 0.5 percent.

• The Richmond route also features two daily state-supported round trips to Washington, D.C. Ridership on these trains remained relatively steady by serving 174,935 riders.

This comes as good news at Northern Virginia’s commuter railroad — Virginia Railway Express — looks to make new friends this year in a changing General Assembly. A wave Democratic candidates earlier this month washed out longtime Republican delegates in the House.

Railroad officials are putting the finishing touches on the agency’s legislative agenda, which outlines top priorities for the upcoming legislative session in Richmond in January.

They include “fixing” the gas tax by setting a floor that would guarantee a certain level of funding from the state no matter how low gas prices dip. Transit agencies like VRE are reliant on regional gas taxes collected at the pump in Northern Virginia for a large amount of their funding.

VRE is not only looking for the $45 million it needs annually to keep the lights on, it also wants $65 million to improve the system, to expand it, and to attract new riders as part of its 2040 improvement plan.

“When it comes to highways, the state has done all it can to expand capacity,” said VRE chief Doug Allen. “So the Amtrak ridership numbers demonstrate the need for passenger rail service.”

And then there’s the question of how forcefull VRE should be when it comes to pushing Richmond legislators for more funding. Some of what the transit agency is calling for could require a tax increase, on top of a 2.3% hike the local governments like Prince William County will pay to VRE this coming year.

“I think we have a solid agenda and we’ll be lucky to get half of it passed,” said John Cook, a Fairfax County Supervisor who sits on the VRE Operations Board. “Let’s wait six months, see what the climate is like, and then review it again.”

Others like Fredericksburg City Councilman Matt Kelly and Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisor member Gary Skinner, who both sit on the VRE board, are less patient.

“We just cut a ribbon for a two-mile extension of the [E-ZPass] Express Lanes in Stafford County, but it still took me two hours to get home from my meeting in Alexandria. The problem is not fixed,” said Kelly.

Small improvements to the area’s highways like this one are not enough, and the region is losing out on economic development opportunities because companies fear the region’s traffic woes, he added.

In the past, VRE Board members said they’ve been content with playing politics and simply taking the amount of funding they can get from Richmond, and then blame state legislators for not providing enough to improve VRE, so the service can take more cars off area roads.

“We need to stop raising the flag of success over every little [road improvment] and tell the state that this isn’t enough,” said Kelly.

News
Where you can drop off your unwrapped toy for Un-Trim-A-Tree

Each year, Potomac Local helps sponsor Un-Trim-A Tree — the effort by Volunteer Prince William to spread a little Christmas cheer by ensuring children in our community don’t go without a gift this holiday season.

Children are provided two gifts per child, valued at not more than $50-$75 per child. This ensures that all children are treated equally.

Here’s where you can drop off an unwrapped gift to donate to this great cause:

 

1. Experimac – 8669 Sudley Rd Manassas 20110

2. United Bank – 10830 Balls Ford Rd Manasas 20109

3. Northwest Federal Credit Union – 9730 Liberia Rd 20110

4. Glory Days – 9516 Liberia Rd Manassas 20110

5. Uno Pizzeria & Grille – 10711 Bulloch Dr Manassas 20109

6. Women’s Fit – 8379 Sudley Rd Manassas 20109

7. Fauquier Bank – 8091 Sudley Rd Manassas 20109

8. Fauquier Bank – 8780 Centreville RD Manassas 20110

9. Fauquier Bank – 7485 Limestone Dr Gainesville 20155

10. Fauquier Bank – 10260 Bristow Ctr Dr 20136

11. Fauquier Bank – 15240 Washington St Haymarket 20169

12. Historic Manassas Visitor Center- 9431 West Street Manassas 20110

13. Philadelphia Tavern – 9413 Main Street Manassas 20110

14. Mariachis – 9428 Battle Street Manassas 20110

15. The Bone BBQ -9420 Battle Street Manassas 20110

16. The Things I love – 9084 Center Street Manassas 20110

17. Totally Vintage – 9126 Center Street Manassas 20110

18. Todos Super Market – 13905 Jefferson Davis Hwy Woodbridge 22191