Update 7 p.m.
A tornado has been confirmed at Quantico.
A weather spotter has told the National Weather Service a tornado near Triangle, about two miles west of Quantico.
The tornado was spotted at 6:14 p.m.
Residents in Stafford County spotted funnel clouds in the southern portion of the county, off U.S. 17.
Neighbors said the skies turned green overhead as funnel clouds appeared over their houses.
Stay with us for continuing coverage.
Update 6 p.m.
A tornado warning has been issued for Stafford and Prince William counties until 6:15 p.m.
At 5:40 p.m., National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated a severe thunderstorm 10 miles west of Stafford capable of producing a tornado.
The storm was moving northeast at 40 mph.
We’ll bring you more details as we get them.
Please update us with what you are seeing.
Original Post 4:15 p.m.
A tornado watch has been issued for the Potomac Communities until 8 p.m.
Officials at the National Weather Service say 19 Virginia counties are under the watch, including Fairfax, Stafford and Prince William.
Showers and thunderstorms are forecast to move into the region this afternoon and evening, according to the NWS.
Those showers and thunderstorms should continue after midnight.
More showers and thunderstorms are possible tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., according to the weather service.
By Frank J. Principi
Woodbridge District Supervisor
In 2007, as I was campaigning to be your locally elected representative on the Board of County Supervisors, I brought a ferry to Woodbridge from Boston to promote the use of a commuter ferry service up the Potomac River. During this time, we conducted several runs and were able to complete the Quantico to Navy Yard run in under 55 minutes one-way, giving us hope that a commuter ferry option was feasible as another viable transit alternative to help alleviate gridlock on our roads. I also brought a ferry here in 2009 and replicated the service time for a series of origin/destination pairs.
Now as the Woodbridge District Supervisor, I am still actively pursuing alternative transit options for our community. As you know, traffic gridlock is among the most pressing challenges to our quality of life in Prince William County. In addition to an aggressive road building initiative, elected officials must work together to build smarter transit alternatives (wiser, not wider) that will alleviate this gridlock and reduce auto emissions. Commuter ferry service is a timely, outside-the-box, solution to several challenges facing Northern Virginia.
In addition to a new form of transit, ferry service also makes sense from a homeland security and tourism perspective as well. In doesn’t take a natural disaster or a terrorist incident to paralyze our road system, we experience gridlock in bad weather, peak commute times, and with fatal accidents. A fleet of high-speed ferries capable of evacuating residents or moving military equipment and personnel during a declared emergency would improve our capacity to respond and recover quickly to a wide range of incidents.
Too, the availability of a fleet of ferries on nights and weekends could shuttle residents and tourists to a local baseball game, airport, or to dining and museum locations along our river system. Ferry origin and destination points would be expected to generate economic development opportunities as Metrorail Stations have done in this region in the past.
Given the forecasted population growth, pending impacts of the BRAC decisions, existing gridlock, limited capacity of our road system, and our history with water-based transportation alternatives, a commuter ferry service along our river system holds promise as a transit alternative to our region’s multi-modal transportation network. Commuter ferry service would take advantage of an existing, unused transportation asset and provide commuters with a convenient alternative to traveling on the region’s congested roadways.
A Commuter Ferry Stakeholder’s group has been created and has met several times over the last few months. This is a planning group that is comprised of federal, state and local officials representing Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The private sector, military and academia are also part of this group. We are on track to conduct a regional market analysis this fall. It will determine whether there is a need for the service and more simply put, if we build it, will you ride it. The group is also tasked with coming up with a funding formula that will ensure the success of the project. For this to work, it needs to be done through a public, private, and military (BRAC) partnership. We will not ask the taxpayers, nor will they accept taking on the brunt of this burden.
In Prince William County’s Future Commission 2030 report, citizens envisioned a water-based transportation service to serve the region. “A water ferry provides transportation to Washington, D.C. and Maryland along the Potomac River…These services are used for commuting, as a regular means of transportation, and for residents and tourists to reach historic towns and sites along the shoreline.” The thousands of residents who participated in the 2030 visioning process clearly stated the vision for an effective, efficient commuter ferry service. It’s now up to area governments, public officials, private employers and individual residents to help make the vision a reality. I am very committed to this cause and will continue to push for a commuter ferry service on the Potomac River.
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Stafford, Va. 22554
Included the entire bill was $300 million, and only a portion of the money will be used for road widening. But the move comes in advance of the military’s Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, which is expected to move 20,000 new federal, military and civilian jobs to the base.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) says the money will be a much-needed boost to help ready the region for the influx of BRAC employees.
“With the deadline for BRAC completion less than six months away, the federal government has come late to the party to help Northern Virginia address the transportation challenges created by BRAC, but thankfully it has arrived. This new funding will help make significant improvements to the Richmond Highway, which is one of the two primary access routes for Fort Belvoir and the Army’s new premier medical campus. It builds on the recent investments made by the Recovery Act to complete Fairfax County Parkway, but still falls short of what is needed to ensure BRAC is a success in our community,” Connolly said in a press release.
In addition to Ft. Belvoir, Quantico Marine Corps Base and North Stafford will also see an influx of new workers shifted to facilities there as part of BRAC.
Update 10 a.m.
It appears drivers tonight will get a brief reprieve from planned delays on U.S. 1 near Ft. Belvoir.
Steel girders were supposed to lifted into place beginning tonight near the military base to lay the groundwork for the future expansion of the four-lane highway.
That construction was supposed to begin tonight, but has been postponed until tomorrow night, officials at Ft. Belvoir say.
When crews do put the steel girders in place, traffic is expected to be stopped in both directions for 20 minute intervals during the process.
We’ll post more here when we have it.
Lorton, Va.— Expect nighttime delays this week on U.S. 1 and Interstate 95 in the Potomac Communities.
Construction crews will begin lifting a series of steel girders into place for a bridge that will accommodate the future expansion of U.S. 1, adding room for mass transit options and the expansion of the Army garrison.
The work will begin at 7 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. tonight through Saturday, according to a press release from Mt. Vernon Supervisor Gerry Hyland’s office.
Each night, contractors will lift three girders into place using a 110-foot steel crane. The process will force the closure of the highway for 20-minute intervals.
One the girder is securely in place and bolted down, the road will reopen to traffic, officials said.
Messaging signs have been put in place by the Virginia Department of Transportation to warn drives about the change.
For drivers headed north, Interstate 95 may not be the best alternative route.
On Sunday night, crews began closing multiple lanes on I-95 north, between Gordon Boulevard (Va. 123) in Woodbridge and milepost 161 in Lorton, to begin erecting new overhead signs.
The lanes will be closed intermittently for up to 30 minutes at a time.
Traffic Expect Closures on I-95, U.S. 1
Get ready for some major closures of Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 in the Potomac Communities.
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced between Friday April 15 and Thursday April 21 work on widening Interstate 95 will have an impact on drivers.
At midnight Friday, the High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes between Dumfries and Washington will close, and then reopen at 3 a.m. Monday April 18.
A portion of the lanes, between Edsall Road in Alexandria and Washington, will reopen at 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, said VDOT.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the HOV lanes between Dumfries and Newington will close from 10 p.m. and then reopen at 5 a.m.
Drivers will be able to get onto the lanes at Springfield and use them to travel into Washington.
Additionally, work on the exit ramps in Woodbridge –– at mile posts 160 and 161 –– will force the closure of those ramps for up to 30 minutes at a time Sunday through Wednesday nights.
Crews will temporarily close a portion of U.S. 1 near Ft. Belvoir in 20-minute increments between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. between Monday April 18 and Saturday April 23.
Short delays are expected as crews raise a steel girder into the air for a new bridge that will accommodate the expansion of the nearby military base, said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.
Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– The hospital that will replace Ft. Belvoir’s aging Dewitt Army Community Hospital will be three times its size and will have the fourth largest pharmacy in the Department of Defense.
The new Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital on the Army base is nearing completion, and area business owners got a sneak peak of the new facility at a Mount Vernon – Lee Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday.
The hospital is being constructed as part of the military’s BRAC relocation, which is will to bring 20,000 military and federal jobs to the region by the fall.
The facility will boast more well more than 120 beds, a recovery center and x-ray facility.
It’ll also be more open, with large windows that allow more sunlight to pass into the building ultimately aiding in the healing process, said Col. Susan Annicell.
“In my 30 years in healthcare I have never seen the level of care and detail placed into a facility like this,” said Annicell, who will lead the staff at the new hospital.
The new hospital will be 1.3 million square foot larger than Dewitt, which will close once the new facility opens.
Hospital rooms will also be larger and more inviting, accommodating family members who want to stay overnight with patients.
The overall goal, explained Annicell, is to make the hospital and its surrounding campus a medical center by adding additional facilities like a 288-bed wounded warrior recovery center, and a 20-bed substance abuse recovery center.
Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital has also been designed to operate on a green scale, with its swooped roof doubling as a rainwater collector. Cisterns beneath the hospital collect the rainwater, process it, and then send it back to the surface where it will be used to water a series of gardens outside the facility.
Lorton, Va. –– Residents of Fairfax and Prince William counties will work together for the first time to clean up one of the region’s busiest highways.
It’s called the “Fairfax and Prince William Connecting Counties to Clean Up Route 1 Corridor” event, and it’ll take place beginning at 9 a.m. April 30 at various spots along the U.S. 1 corridor.
“Not only do we want to clean up Route 1, but we also want to highlight that there is a lot of trash along the road and it needs to be cleaned up consistently,” said Kayne Karnbach, with Prince William Clean Community Council. “It’s important to note that civic groups for a long time have worked to clean the area, but this is the first time we have come together and worked as a team.”
Members of the Mount Vernon – Lee Chamber of Commerce, those from Ft. Belvoir and Quantico, as well as the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association will all work in their respective teams to clean the roadway.
Churches have also been recruited into the effort, and many have all agreed to help clean in some portions between Ft. Belvoir south to Triangle, said Karnbach.
Those interested in volunteering to participate may call 571-285-3772 for more information.
Quantico, Va. –– First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address at this year’s graduation ceremony at Quantico High School.
The graduation ceremony will be held June 3, where Obama is expected to address the 26 members of the graduating class at the combination middle and high school, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The first lady is also expected to give commencement speeches at a handful of other colleges, including Spelman College and the University of Northern Iowa.
Obama last year delivered the commencement address to Anacostia High School in Washington.
Quantico Middle / High School is located on the marine base that shares its name.
Ft. Belvoir, Va. — An Oregon National Guard Soldier serving at Ft. Belvoir was killed in a Monday afternoon car crash, while driving home for a family dinner.
The victim, Army Master Sergeant William Scott Pitts, had more than 22 years in the military. He was posthumously promoted to master sergeant on Tuesday.
Colleagues at the National Guard Bureau remember him fondly, saying his strongest quality was how much of a family man he was to those he is survived by; his wife Vicki R. Pitts and their three children, daughters Crystal, 16, and Tonya, 9, and son Scott, 12.
A Memorial Ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Fort Belvoir Main Post Chapel, 12th and Belvoir Road, at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 25, with Old Guard members providing Honor Guard and Bugler support.
His family will hold a graveside service in the near future.
Pitts is the second U.S. serviceman to die in a crash along the same stretch of road in the last two weeks.
On March 14, 54-year-old Paul Krause was killed when a Honda Civic collided with his Ford Fusion sedan forcing it into oncoming traffic on Richmond Highway (U.S. 1).
Krause is also being remembered today and tomorrow.
A 33-year-old illegal immigrant, Carlos Ramos Lagos, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death.
-U.S. National Guard contributed to this report.
Fairfax County police this morning said a 32-year-old man was driving a Fastran shuttle bus on northbound U.S. 1 near Ft. Belvoir about 4 p.m. Monday when four cars in front of him slowed for a traffic light at Fairfax County Parkway.
The driver told police he did not see the light or the slowing cars and hit a 1995 Toyota Celica, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Shelly Broderick.
Inside of the Celica was the fatal victim in the crash, William S. Pitts, of Fort Belvoir Road, who was pronounced dead on the scene.
After shuttle bus collided with Pitts’ car, the impact caused a chain reaction forcing the Celica into the back of a 2004 Dodge pickup. That truck then hit a 2001 Dodge Caravan, which then hit a 2004 Chrysler sedan.
In all, eight people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and later released.
Police have not filed charges or identified the driver of the Fastran bus, but said charges are anticipated.
This is the second fatal crash at the same spot on U.S. 1 in a week.
On March 14, 54-year-old Paul Krause was died when his sedan was struck by a Honda Civic, forcing it into oncoming traffic.
The driver of that Civic, 33-year-old Carlos Lagos Ramos, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and has been identified as an illegal immigrant here in the U.S.
Krause leaves behind a wife and three daughters.
Woodbridge, Va. –– At the center of a General Assembly recap Thursday night was transportation.
Two state senators and two delegates met with residents at the Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge to talk about their recent successes during what was a shorter than normal legislative session in Richmond.
Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36) was able to get passed a transit study for the U.S. 1 corridor from Alexandria to Quantico.
“I have Ft. Belvoir in my district and we need this study because we are going to get 20,000 new employees at Belvoir and 6,000 at Quantico,” said Puller. “I tried to get this initiative passed with the last two democratic governors, but this time around [Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R)] passed it.”
The study one of many new transportation initiatives that came out of the session, which also the passage of transportation plan that will allow the state to $4 billion for projects statewide.
Del. Luke Torian (D-52) lauded the extension of the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes from his district in Dumfries to North Stafford.
“I am very glad the entrance to the HOV lanes is leaving here and will move south to Garrisonville Road, so people can enter the lanes in Stafford County instead of having to wait until they get to Prince William,” said Torian.
He also touted passed legislation that will allow the Prince William County Public Schools to distribute versions of their upcoming budget electronically, which will save money and the school system from mailing 70,000 paper versions each year, said Torian.
Del. Richard Anderson (R-52) has legislation waiting for McDonnell’s signature that would allow anyone who is discharged from the military to get in-state tuition in Virginia. Under the current system, discharged military members must wait for at least one year until they can receive in-state tuition benefits, which are much lower than what students pay for out-of-state tuition.
“With this measure, we get to keep a group of military veterans with a strong work ethic, get them in college, and then eventually get them into our workforce. Hopefully, the governor won’t veto it,” said Anderson.
Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-29) also came to the community meeting.
Some say it’s because of the military’s Base Realignment and Closure.
BRAC, as its known, is expected to bring more than 20,000 new military and federal workers to the Ft. Belvoir Army Garrison and Quantico Marine Corps Base, and landlords know those who relocate to these jobs will want to live where they work.
“At least two or three times a week I get an email request from someone relocating to the area. They want a reasonable commute to Fort Belvoir…access to public transportation to D.C. Easy enough to do. Then the hard part or perhaps the reality part hits. Most often they want a three or four bedroom detached home with a garage for under $2,000 a month. Unfortunately reality is the rental prices for a detached homes meeting this criteria starts closer to $2,300, and more likely will be $2,500 or more per month,” stated Woodbridge-based real estate agent Cindy Jones in her blog.
Jones says those who move here can opt for a longer commute time and choose to live in Prince William County to find a home at the $2,000 price point.
Northern Virginia is still a buyer’s market out there, real estate agents say.
It seems many people who are looking to rent still want to see if the market will go any lower, still waiting for their best deals, said Stafford real estate agent Rob Rachon.
“Purchasers are becoming wiser because people do not need to make decisions in one day if they want the home or risk losing it. If they lose out on that home, there will mostly likely be another one like it on the market next week,” said Rochon.
In Stafford, the market has yet to see a major influx of people relocating to the area because of BRAC. But they are coming, says Rochon.
“As people move down here for BRAC the pace will pick up, that’s going to bring more people to the area and fill jobs,” said Rochon.
Triangle, Va. –– A hotel will be built on the ground of the National Museum of the Marine Corps complex.
Announced today, the state-of-the art hotel will sit on 10 acres of land adjacent to the Marine museum that sits at the center of the U.S. 1 redevelopment in Triangle, and has long been planned as part of the developing complex.
The new hotel will bring new space for events and conferences, a full-service restaurant and lounge, indoor and outdoor pools, a business center, fitness room and gift shop.
“The development of this new facility is a tremendous step forward in completing our vision for the Marine Corps Heritage Center as a complex dedicated to the service of Marines,” said President & CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Lt.Gen Ron Christmas in a press release. “The addition of a hotel and conference center will not only advance the mission of the Marine Corps University, but also significantly benefit Marines and their families visiting the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Quantico Marine Corps Base, as well as all visitors to the historic attractions of Prince William County.”
Also include in the complex’s master plan is a new office building and artifact restoration center.
The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the museum, was founded in 1979.
Fairfax County, Va. –– The future of south Fairfax may lay in the success of its destinations, like Woodlawn Plantation, Gunston Hall and Mt. Vernon.
These keystone locations are what have attracted new hotels like Hampton Inn and Spring Hill Suites to U.S. 1 corridor, planners say.
And with their proximity to Washington these destinations may entice military members and their families to relocate to south Fairfax as part of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.
“We’ve seen places like the Lorton Arts Center continues to develop and be a cultural center to our area. And they still have plenty of room and plans to expand there,” said Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation spokesman Tony Fontana.
Next month, SFDC will hold their first Retail Trends and Opportunities seminar focusing business in the Richmond Highway corridor.
The panelists for the event include a representative from the company that owns the 4-million square foot retail shopping mall, Beacon Center, on U.S. 1 – Senior Vice president of Retail Development for Saul Centers John Collich. It will also include the Principal of the Potomac Development Group Tom Maskey, and SFDC Board of Directors member Bruce Leonard.
The gathering aims to show the shift in marketing from the “baby boom” generation to the “X and Y” generation, said Fontana.
Redevelopment on the Richmond Highway will be centered around walk able town centers, differing from the old strip mall approach –– a form of construction in which many retailers say they have over marketed themselves in, said Fontana.
“We always encourage new development in the area, much like what Woodbridge has done with the Wegmans and the town center there. But some retailers feel they have over-retailed themselves and may not want to build additional locations,” said Fontana.
As part of BRAC, Ft. Belvoir stands to gain an additional 20,000 new federal employees and military members, as well as their families.
The seminar will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. April 13, at 5821 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, and advance registration is required.
Traffic Truck Fire Delays Traffic
The fire was doused at 9:31 a.m. and now only one lane of traffic is getting by the mess, said Prince William fire and rescue spokeswoman Kim Hylander.
Traffic cameras along they highway show traffic in the area stalled in both the north and soutbound directions.
Crews are working to clear the burnt truck from the highway.
Mt. Vernon, Va. –– A man who threatened to jump from an old railway bridge and car crash caused massive delays on U.S. 1 in south Fairfax County on Monday.
At 5:30 p.m., police were called to the area of Belvoir Court and U.S. 1, just north of the Fairfax County Parkway intersection, where a man threatened to jump from an unused railroad bridge that used to serve the Ft. Belvoir garrison.
Police closed the road to traffic in both directions as crisis intervention teams worked with the man, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.
After two hours, officers were able to talk the man down from the bridge. No one was injured and no charges were filed in the incident.
Earlier that afternoon about 4:30, a two car crash on U.S. 1 at Old Mill Road in the Mt. Vernon area also snarled traffic.
No one was seriously injured and crews had the mess cleaned up shortly after 5 p.m.
But the damage to Monday’s commute had been done.
Late last night, Fairfax Connector buses were reporting long delays on the 171 line, which runs between Lorton, Franconia-Springfield and the Huntington Metro stations.
Traffic in once again moving in the area without incident.
The gate reopened at 3:35 p.m. after K-9 units were called to search a truck whose driver was attempting to get on base.
Four people inside the truck were searched, but nothing was found and the truck was cleared.
“As a safety precaution for our people and the surrounding communities, Tulley Gate was closed,” said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.
A portion of Pohick Road, between Gunston Road and U.S. 1 which had been closed, was also reopened following the search.
Original Post 3:30 p.m.
Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– Authorities were called to Ft. Belvoir’s Tully Gate this afternoon to search a suspicious car.
K-9 units were dispatched to search the vehicle – its contents still unclear.
No one was injured, but the search prompted the closure of the gate, as well as a portion of Pohick Road – from U.S. 1 to Gunston Road.
All incoming and outgoing traffic has been diverted to Pence Gate.
Drivers should expect delays in the area if the closure continues through the afternoon rush hour, said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.
More as we get it.
Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– One neighborhood at Ft. Belvoir will be without power today.
Officials say Dominion Virginia will replace a defective underground switch that provides electricity to one neighborhood in the Villages at Belvoir.
Residents who live in Cedar Grove Village are scheduled to be without power between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. today.
“We understand Dominion is replacing a transformer that is so old power regularly goes out there,” said Ft. Belvoir spokeswoman Jacqueline Leeker.
The work is expected to be finished today.
News Closings and Delays
Fairfax County Public Schools opening TWO HOURS LATE. Offices opening on time.
Prince William County Public Schools CLOSED. Code Red for employees.
Stafford County Public Schools opening TWO HOURS LATE.
Ft. Belvoir is OPEN under UNSCHEDULED LEAVE.
DoD School Quantico OPENING TWO HOURS LATE
Quantico Marine Corps Base opening ON TIME
Virginia Railway Express operating ON TIME.
Update 4:00 p.m.
The gas leak that prompted evacuations this morning at Ft. Belvoir has been fixed.
By 2:45 p.m., utility crews from Washington Gas completed their repair of a four-inch gas main that ruptured in the town center area of the Army base.
Residents, business owners and their employees have been allowed to return to the areas that were cordoned off about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
Traffic was also affected by the gas main break: Drivers on Gunston Road south of the affected area will be diverted onto Theote Road where they can link with Pohick Road. (more…)
By David N. Britt
The U.S. Army at Ft. Belvoir has a plan to help you reinforce the importance of National Black History Month to children and yourself.
On Tuesday, the Ft. Belvoir Officers Club will welcome Hari Jones of the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum.
Mr. Jones plans to share his wealth of his knowledge of African American’s who have served their country in and out of uniform during and after the Civil War. (more…)