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News
Around Town

Woodbridge child eliminated from National Spelling Bee
A contestant in the National Spelling Bee from Woodbridge was eliminated Wednesday, reports Insidenova.com.

Tito the Builder gets his primary
Tito the Builder gets what he wants: A Republican Primary to decide the next GOP candidate for Virginia’s 36th Senate District, reports The Washington Post.

Bus crash stats released
Following the deadly bus crash earlier this week on Interstate 95, AAA has released stats on bus crashes on roads across the nation, Fredericksburg.com reports.

Lotto ticket giveaway
A man who had 10 winning lottery tickets is now helping to give some lottery tickets away, reports NBCWashington.com.

A little help to find your way around campus
George Mason University will begin using names like Aquia and Rappahannock to help guide visitors and new students to the college around campus, reports Connect2Mason.

Restrictions tightening for area for-profit colleges
The government wants to shut down for-profit colleges that have large amounts of students who cannot pay back their student loans because of unsuccessful career placement programs, reports the Washington Business Journal.

News
Hot Today, Storms Forecasted Tonight

Update 2:30 p.m.
A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for the Potomac Communities until 10 p.m.

The National Weather Service has forecasted strong storms to move through the region this afternoon and tonight. Some may contain strong winds, heavy downpours and large hail.

Original Post 1: 30 p.m.
This afternoon’s hot temperatures should give way to a round of severe thunderstorms this afternoon.

A heat advisory remains in effect for the Washington area until 8 p.m., but those thunderstorms could begin moving through the area this afternoon and lasting through tonight.

Some of them could contain heavy downpours, high winds and large hail, according to the National Weather Service.

The temperature at Reagan Washington National Airport at 1:30 p.m. was 94 degrees, but heat index values made it feel like 100 or more degrees outside.

Despite the hotter than normal temperatures, officials in Prince William County say they have not responded to a higher than normal amount of calls for people suffering heat exhaustion.

But that doesn’t mean the hot weather doesn’t take a toll on the body.

Stafford County Department of Fire and Rescue spokesman Mark Doyle says people should drink more water in this hot weather, and not to wait until your body feels thirsty. He also warned against drinking alcohol or sugary drinks, and very cold drinks as they may cause stomach cramps.

If without air conditioning and using a fan, fans may not prevent heat-related illness, said Doyle.

Taking a cold shower or bath, or moving in a place that has air conditioning is a better way to cool off.

It’s also important to never leave any person or a pet in a closed, parked car, he added.

Those who must venture outside should limit their activity, keep to shaded areas and wear protective sunscreen with an SPF rating of 15 or higher, wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses to add further protection from the sun.

News
Around Town

Teen who assaulted sheriff’s deputy gets a reduced sentence
An autistic teenager from Stafford County who assaulted a sheriff’s deputy outside a high school last year had eight years shaved off of his prison sentence Tuesday, reports Fredericksburg.com.

Company that operated fatal bus shut down
The company that operates the bus that crashed on Interstate 95 on Tuesday killing four people has been shut down after various violations against the company were noted, reports NBCWashington.com.

New way to pay to ride Metro
Taking Washington’s Metro system can be confusing for tourists and first-time riders. Greater Greater Washington suggests a new way to pay to ride the nation’s subway.

Virginia to open new India office
The number of offices Virginia has overseas to lure business to the state is growing. The state will open a new office for trade in India this summer, reports The Washington Business Journal.

Washington area home prices continue to buck trend
While home prices across the nation fell in March, causing some to say this will be a double-dip recession for home prices, home sellers in the Washington area enjoyed a slight increase in prices, reports The Washington Business Journal.

News
Dudenhefer Announces Campaign Kick-off Event

Mark Dudenhefer

Mark Dudenhefer

North Stafford, Va. –– Mark Dudenhefer is kicking of his campaign for Virginia’s House of Delegates in a centralized location.

 

Dudenhefer, who is currently the Chairman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, will officially announce his campaign for the newly shifted 2nd House District in North Stafford and eastern Prince William County.

He’s chosen the Quantico Corporate Center, located just off Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) on the boarder of Prince William and Stafford counties for the kick-off event to be held between 5 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11.

Speaker of the House of Delegates, Bill Howell, as well as State Senator Richard Stuart (R, 28 – Stafford, Prince William) and Congressman Robert J. Wittman (R, Va. – 1) are slated to appear.

Dudenhefer has wide Republican support in Stafford but is relatively unknown in Prince William County.

He has served on Stafford’s Board of Supervisors since 2006 and has long been an outspoken advocate of transportation improvements after his 17-year-old daughter Emily was killed on a county road in 2004.

Dudenhefer spent 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired as a colonel.

The newly shifted 2nd House District was moved from Southwest Virginia to the Potomac Communities this spring during a mandatory redistricting process.

Population in that corner of the state fell while the number of people who moved to this area grew, requiring the need for the new seat.

Traffic
Teen Bus Pass Also Great for Baseball Fans

OmniLink switch riders buses at the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Center in Woodbridge.

Woodbridge, Va. — It’s a teenager’s annual pass to getting around town, and it goes on sale Tuesday.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission is once again selling its OmniLink Teen Summer Pass.

The bus pass is good for unlimited rides on local buses that run along U.S. 1 in Woodbridge, on Dale Boulevard in Dale City, Old Bridge Road in Lake Ridge, on OmniRide’s Cross-County Connector between Woodbridge and Manassas, as well on local buses in Manassas.

The pass costs $30 and is good for rides on OmniLink buses between June 1 and Sept. 3, said PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo.

In addition to unlimited rides, it also guarantees $1 off Potomac Nationals tickets on Friday nights beginning June 10. Riders must show their passes at the ticket window before the game, said Rodrigo.

Teen passes are available at the following locations:

PRTC Transit Center, 14700 Potomac Mills Road, Woodbridge (next to Hylton Chapel)
-Mondays through Fridays, June 1 to August 5, 2011, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Potomac Mills Mall food court
-Saturday, June 11, 12-4 p.m.
-Saturday, June 25, 12-4 p.m.

Manassas Mall food court
-Saturday, June 18, 12-4 p.m.
-Saturday, July 9, 12-4 p.m.

News
Dangerous Temps Forecasted

Memorial Day weekend may be the unofficial start of summer, but the Mother Nature is giving sure signs the hottest season of the year has arrived.

A heat advisory goes into effect for the Washington area at noon Monday and will last until 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

High temperatures on Monday will be in the low to mid 90s, and in the high 90s on Tuesday. But the humidity will drive up the heat index making it feel like 100 to 105 degrees outside.

The high temperatures can cause illness in those who are exposed to the high temperatures.

Those who don’t have to be out in the heat are urged to stay indoors. Those who do should drink plenty of water, and find shade and take frequent breaks.

The first heat wave of the season should last through Wednesday, when showers and thunderstorms could move through the area bringing with them lower temperatures with highs in the 80s for Thursday and Friday.

The first day of summer, or the summer solstice, is June 21.

Traffic
Storms Bring Downed Trees, Power Outages

Update 7:48 p.m.
Dominion Virginia Power reports more than 4,300 customers without power in Burke area.

Update 7:30 p.m.
Dominion Virginia Power reports more than 2,500 customers without power in North Stafford following severe storm that just moved through area. Utility crews report an estimated repair time between 9 and 11 p.m.

Original Post 7:15 p.m.
Fire and rescue crews have fanned out across Stafford County inspecting downed trees and reports of auto accidents after a strong storm moved through the area tonight.

There have been multiple reports of downed trees across the county, said Stafford fire and rescue spokesman Mark Doyle.

That same storm is now moving its north through Woodbridge and is expected to impact the Lorton and Springfield areas within the hour.

A tornado warning for North Stafford and the Dale City expired at 7:15 p.m. A severe thunderstorm warning continues for Woodbridge and southern Fairfax County until 7:45 p.m.

News
Crime Watch: Woman Abducted, Shots Fired

Warrants issued after woman abducted, assaulted
A woman was abducted by an acquaintance after an argument, police say.

Officers were called to a home in the 1500 block of Walnut Street in Woodbridge after the 33-year-old victim said she was assaulted by a male acquaintance that held her against her will.

The victim was eventually able to leave the house and call police the following day, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Police are unable to locate the man accused in the attack.

Investigators have issued warrants for Juan Carlos Ramirez, 24, of Woodbridge, charging him with abduction, intent to defile and malicious wounding, said Perok.

He’s described as Hispanic, between 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown eyes and black hair.

Woman hears shots, finds bullet holes
A woman who was watching TV at her home Friday heard gunshots ring out, and then noticed a large hole in her bathroom window.

The shots were fired at 12:03 a.m. in the 3100 block of Chesapeake Drive in Woodbridge, just off Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1).

After seeing the hole in her bathroom window, she noticed another one in an adjacent window, police said.

No one was injured.

Home burglarized, cash missing from safe
Cash was reported missing from a safe at a home in North Stafford on Thursday.

Police say a home on Park Road in the Windsor Forest neighborhood was broken into between 8 and 11 a.m. Thursday.

The homeowner told Stafford sheriff’s deputies when he returned home items in the house were out of place, and saw that a window had been opened, said Stafford sheriff’s spokesman Bill Kennedy.

Man robbed in Triangle
A 56-year-old man told police he was robbed in the 18200 block of Graham Court in Triangle at 12:50 a.m. Saturday.

The man was getting out of his vehicle when he was approached by a group of men that took his wallet, which had an undisclosed amount of money inside, said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

The men fled on foot and the victim was not injured. The victim was not able to provide a description of any of the men, police say.

News
First Thunderstorms, Then Hot

The Memorial Day weekend starts in the Potomac Communities tonight with the region under a severe thunderstorm watch until 8 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a possibility of strong thunderstorms after 4 p.m.

If the weather turns severe, turn to us for updates.

Just after 1 p.m. Friday, the temperature at Regan Washington National Airport was 83 degrees. Temperatures were forecast to climb into the upper 80s on Friday, according to the weather service.

The forecast calls for much of the same weather on Saturday, with temperatures in the mid 80s and a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms.

Expect it to be hot on Sunday, as the threat of storms diminishes and the mercury is forecast to climb into the 90s.

On Memorial Day, it’ll be even hotter outside with temperatures with a forecast high of 95 degrees.

Traffic
VRE Preps for Crowding Today

A Virginia Railway Express train pulls into the Woodbridge station. (File Photo: Mary Davidson)

As commuters get ready to head home for the long holiday weekend, Virginia Railway Express has added extra cars to trains to accommodate passengers.

The most crowded trains this afternoon are expected to be Fredericksburg line train #303 and Manassas line train #307.

Those two trains will be the longest VRE trains this afternoon, according to a VRE spokesman.

The transit system also reminds passengers there will be no service Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

The longer trains come after passengers on the railroad this week experience major delays Tuesday night, when a freight train broke down on the tracks in a critical junction point between VRE’s Fredericksburg and Manassas lines.

The disabled train delayed VRE trains for up to 70 minutes, forcing some passengers to take cab rides to get home.

The railroad offered to reimburse passengers for the cost of those rides in a apology statement sent to its riders Wednesday.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience this unusual situation caused and will continue to work hard to avoid anything like it in the future,” VRE stated.

VRE says officials from Keolis, the company contracted to operate VRE trains and CSX, the owners of the railroad, were on the scene for hours Tuesday trying to get the train moving.

In the end, Amtrak was able to provide some additional equipment to get the train moving again.

Traffic
Highways to Fill with Holiday Travelers

Drivers travel north on Interstate 95 at Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Traveling by car this Memorial Day weekend? You’re not alone.

Nine out of 10 people in the Washington area are expected to pack the car and head to their vacation destination spot this weekend to herald the unofficial start of summer.

Many of them will travel more than 50 miles to their destinations, a break from the past when more people chose to stay home due to high gas prices and a troubled economy.

“Scrimp and save and still go. That’s the new travel reality and paradigm for Washington area travelers during the first holiday weekend of summer,” said AAA Mid Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II. “Amazingly, more Washington residents, nine out of ten, will travel by automobile this year than last, even with sky-high gasoline prices along the way. In fact, automobile travel continues to be the dominant mode of transportation for local residents this Memorial Day.”

More people from our area will be traveling this weekend than last Memorial Day, an expected 1.4 percent increase.

Room rates are nearby beaches, Virginia Beach and Ocean City, Md., are well over $200 per night and many have been sold out.

Travelers told AAA Mid Atlantic they will spend less while at their destination spots to compensate on fuel prices.

The automobile agency says auto travel is expected to be up this year slightly, by 0.7 percent, air travel up by 12.7 percent, and all other forms of travel down by 11.2 percent.

Gas prices are also higher this year than they were last year.  The average price for a gallon of gas in the Potomac Communities averages $3.87 per gallon, according to AAA Fuel Price Finder.

Last year, the average price for a gallon of gas in the same areas was $2.75.

News
Around Town

Fairfax County asks for delay of Mark Center opening
Now, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have asked for a delay in opening the massive Mark Center building where thousands of federal employees will relocate, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

House to vote on BRAC delay
And with that request, the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to vote on a bill that would delay the BRAC move and would give officials more time to prepare for the move, reports The Washington Business Journal.

Manassas gets new fire chief
At first he was hesitant, but now Brett Bowman says he’s ready to be the next fire chief for Manassas and took the job on Monday, reports Insidenova.com.

Kaine won’t commit on Obama budget
The president proposed his budget for 2012, but Senate contender and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, would not say how he would have voted on the proposed budget if he were serving in the senate chamber, reports The Washington Post.

Area jewelry shop makes charity a priority
One area jewelry shop has made charity a big part of their business, and now the Washington Post profiles the owner.

News
Memorial Day Closings

It’s the annual, unofficial start to summer! Memorial Day weekend is here, the time where we take an extra day off of work to honor those who have served their country. Because it’s a holiday, it won’t be business as usual for many municipal agencies.

Fairfax County
Government offices – Closed Monday May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30

Prince William County
Government offices – Closed Monday ,May 20, 2011

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30, 2011

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 20, 2011

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30, 2011, neighborhood libraries closed Saturday, May 28 through May 20, 2011. All branches to reopen May 31, 2011.

Stafford County
Government offices – Closed Monday, May 30

Courts – Closed Monday, May 30

Landfill – Closed Monday, May 30. Will reopen Tuesday, May 31 for regular business hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Libraries – Closed Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30. Will reopen normal hours Tuesday, May 31.


Traffic and Transit

I-95 / 395 / 66 High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
HOV Resrtrictions lifted Monday May 30, 2011

I-95/395 lanes to run southbound from 1 p.m. Friday, May 27 until 2 p.m. Saturday, May 28. Lanes will run northbound from 4 p.m. through the remainder of the weekend.
The lanes will CLOSE to regular traffic Sunday for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle event, between 7:30 and 11 a.m.

Fairfax Connector Bus – Sunday schedule on Monday, May 30, 2011

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission – No service Monday, May 30, 2011

Virginia Railway Express – No Service Monday, May 30, 2011

Metrorail – Washington’s Metrorail will conduct track maintenance over the weekend. Riders are asked to plan ahead for delays.

News
Around Town

Teacher raises on the way
Teachers in Stafford County will get step raises during the next school year, reports Fredericksburg.com.

Unpopular commuter lot
Despite a shuttle bus and two new Slug lines, still too few people are using a commuter lot at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge, reports Insidenova.com.

Bus fares raised
It’s going to cost you more to ride FRED buses in Stafford and Fredericksburg, reports Fredericksburg Patch.

Fairfax buses to change routes near Ft. Belvoir
Fairfax Connector bus service is expanding as the BRAC closure/open date draws near, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

No Walmart for Wilderness
Walmart  won’t build a new store on the site of a Civil War battlefield in Wilderness, the Washington Business Journal reports.

News
Around Town

Community college tuition going up
It’s going to cost more to attend a Virginia Community College next year, TBD.com reports.

You can help tornado victims
After the deadliest tornado in 60 years ripped through Joplin, MO on Monday, there are ways you can help the victims, reports Mt. Vernon Patch.

PWC BOCS member eyes state senate
A Prince William County Board of Supervisors member will run for Virginia’s Senate, reports The Washington Post.

Endangered historical sites named
Some of the most endangered historic sites in Virginia have been named, and at least one of them is in Stafford County, reports Staffordcountysun.com.

FRED bus service to hold hearing on fare increase
FRED is looking at another fare increase, reports Fredericksburg.com.

Metro names too long
The names of some Metro stations in the region are too long, and now transit authorities want to do something about that, reports Greater Greater Washington.

Traffic
Amtrak Train Catches Fire, Sparks Delays

Update 4 p.m.
An Amtrak train that caught fire this afternoon at Quantico is once again on the move.

Train 92 from Miami to New York City made an unscheduled stop when an electrical fire erupted on the train just before 3 p.m.

Amtrak officials say they no one was injured when some rail cars began to fill with smoke, and affected passengers were moved to other cars on the train.

An exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Virginia Railway Express service on the Fredericksburg line does not appear to have been affected.

Original Post 3:10 p.m.
Quantico, Va. ––
Virginia Railway Express officials say all rail traffic has been stopped at Quantico.

Fire and rescue crews are working to douse a fire near the town’s train station, were told.

A Quantico spokesman says the base does not have any information at this time about the closure.

VRE says it’s still too early to predict how this might affect the afternoon rush hour on the rails.

Last year, a freight train derailed at Quantico which also halted rail traffic up and down the east coast.

News
More Suspicious Letters Found

Washington school officials and the FBI are once again this morning evacuating schools after suspicious letters were found.

Officials are taking precautions this morning, investigating if the letters contain harmful substances, according to the FBI.

So far, no one has been injured but officials say each new discovery consumes hundreds of hours of police manpower.

Of the 29 letters found Thursday and the letters found this morning, no harmful substances have been found.

Each suspicious package has been taken to the FBI’s lab at Quantico for further examination.

Investigators say the letters have been mailed from the Dallas area and are similar to other letters being investigated by the FBI in that city. The letters are also similar to letters received by Washington, D.C. schools in October, reports the FBI.

News
Dudenhefer Announces House Run

Mark Dudenhefer

Mark Dudenhefer

North Stafford, Va. –– An open Virginia House of Delegates seat has a contender.

Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Dudenhefer announced he will vie for the newly shifted 2nd District House of Delegates seat.

The district encompasses much of Northern Stafford, Quantico, and Woodbridge east of Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. 1) north to Belmont Bay.

The district was shifted to Northern Virginia from the southwest portion of the state after population there declined, and more residents moved into to the Potomac Communities.

“I know how to keep taxes low, reduce government and create jobs because I have already done it in Stafford County,” said Dudenhefer in a press release.

A Republican and retired Marine Colonel after 30 years of service, Dudenhefer won a position on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors in 2006.

Improving transportation in the region was a focus of his campaign following the death of his 17-year-old daughter, Emily, who was killed in a car crash in Stafford in 2004.

Seven years later, Dudenhefer now serves as the Chairman of the Stafford Board which serves the county’s nearly 129,000 residents. He’s recently tackled issues like hiring and retaining fire and rescue personnel, the county’s mandatory redistricting process, defining where urban growth will happen in Stafford, and stood with Virginia’s transportation secretary Sean Connaughton (the former Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman) to herald construction of new commuter parking in North Stafford.

Dudenhefer said he was approached by Virginia House Speaker Del. Bill Howell about seeking the newly shifted House seat.

“We need more conservatives to stand firm in the House of Delegates, and I’ll be a reliable ally to Speaker Bill Howell as we keep Virginia the best place in the country to conduct business through low taxes and less government intervention.”

So far, no other candidate has come forward to run against the Republican.

News
Tornado Spotted at Quantico, Funnel Clouds Over Stafford

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.

Letter: Like Metro, Ferries Would Spur Development

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi

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.

To may submit an open letter to PotomacLocal.com, please email it to news@potomaclocal.com and write “Open Letter” in the subject line.

You may also mail letters to:
PotomacLocal.com
Unit 115-10
Stafford, Va. 22554

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.

Traffic
Funds Approved for U.S. 1 Widening

Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– Congress on Friday passed legislation that includes funding the widening of U.S. 1 at Ft. Belvoir.

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.

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