Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

Occoquan Local

News
Prince William Using Risk Scores to Determine Budget

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Prince William County will bring back a numbers system to decide funding priorities for the fiscal 2014 budget.

Michelle Casciato with the county’s Office of Management and Budget told officials Tuesday her office use will a risk assessment system that will examine what programs and agencies are being funding now, how they relate to the core function of local government, and then assign each scores between four and 20.

An evaluation scale will be used to score what’s already being funded in the county’s $2.4 billion budget, examining its risk to the community, risks to individuals, financial and legal risks, and whether or not what’s being funded is essential to the mission of local government, according to documents presented Tuesday to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Each agency or program’s risk score is expected to be shown at the next meeting of the Supervisors on Oct. 2. The report will also show the probable community impacts on agencies or programs if, for example, the county’s 1.209 percent tax rate is reduced, or if Supervisors decide to no longer fund a program, said Casciato.

According to Casciato’s examples of programs currently funded by the county government, the Child Protective Services program scored an overall 19 because individuals aided by the program are considered to be at risk. There are also large public safety risks to the community and legal risks to the county if the program went underfunded, added Casciato.

In contrast, Prince William’s Bluebird Senior’s Bus program, which officials said costs taxpayers about $30,000 annually, scored a four because of it’s low financial risk (county officials said the program is paid for mostly by user fees) and because it’s not essential to the core function of local government.

The risk assessment score was developed in 2009 and used for the implementation of the 2010 fiscal year budget. It was not used in the implementation of the 2011 or 2012 budget processes, but officials once more want it to be included in the budgetary process.

Prince William County operates on a $2.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2013 with an effective property tax rate of 1.209 percent. The annual tax bill for residents is expected to remain flat over the next five years, but is expected to be adjusted for inflation by four percent each year.

Casciato points out if property assessments rise in Prince William, the county’s tax rate can be lowered so Prince William collects the same amount of projected revenue over the next five years.

Officials at today’s Board meeting said it was unusual to begin talking about the next year’s budget process so soon, adding many Supervisors do not form their budget committees don’t form until December. 

News
Occoquan Craft Fair This Weekend

OCCOQUAN, Va. — It is craft time in Occoquan once more as the town prepares to hold its annual Fall Craft Show.

The show will take place along the small riverside town’s Mill, Union, and Washington streets from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The event will attract local merchants, crafters, and live music, according to organizers.

Parking is limited, and once again this year shuttle buses will ferry craft fair attendees to and from the town and nearby commuter parking lots. Riders will pay $4 for round-trip ride, and they will be able to catch buses from the following lots:

Vulcan Quarry parking lot

Gordon & Old Bridge roads commuter parking lot

Tackett’s Mill commuter parking lot

Interstate 95 commuter lot

 

News
All-Clear Given After Report of Quantico Gunman

QUANTICO, Va. — Officials at Quantico Maine Corps Base gave the all-clear late Thursday night after someone claimed to have spotted a man with a gun on base.

The reported gunman was said to be near the child development center on base. Marines were sent to check out the situation and the child development center, and Quantico Middle/High School was placed on lockdown, according to a Quantico spokesman.

Marines at 7 p.m. confirmed there was no gunman in the area, and the lockdown on the educational centers was lifted and children inside were allowed to return home.

 

News
Woodbridge Towers Plan on Chopping Block

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The plan to build two towers at the entrance of Prince William County might change.

Approved in 2005, the planned Rivergate complex on Annapolis Way in Woodbridge included two 15-story towers overlooking the Occoquan River. Inside was going to be 720 condominium homes, and the buildings were going to be a keystone in an effort to revitalize the area near the heavily used commuter routes U.S. 1 and Va. 123.

But now things have changed. The developer of the project, which is also behind the famed Watergate Hotel in Washington, now wants to scale back and build five apartment buildings instead. These buildings would range between four to five stories tall, a stark contrast to the original plan.

“So they’re more like garden-style apartments, where the towers were going to be condos,” said Prince William County Planning Manager Deborah Bruckman.

The newly proposed apartments would bring just 387 new homes to the area. Market conditions prompted the developer’s change in plans. 

The proposal is under review and is awaiting a public hearing. Afterward, the plan is expected to go before the Board of County Supervisors next spring, said Bruckman.

The towers are a component in an overall broader effort to revitalize the U.S. 1 corridor in Woodbridge. When fervor for the towers was high in 2005, many said the new buildings would give commuters coming south from Fairfax County a new impression of Prince William’s growth and place on the regional stage.

Though the tower plan could change, revitalization is underway. Marumsco Plaza — once a major shopping destination prior to explosive growth around Potomac Mills mall in the late 1980s and the 1990s, is well underway with new tenants lined up for the changing shopping plaza.

Plans for a new housing development, Potomac Shores, are also ramping up, and the development is to include a new Jack Nicklaus golf course. Planners are soon expected to hold a private briefing with the Southbridge Home Owners Association — the neighborhood adjacent to the planned community, said HOA President Jim Riley. 

Traffic
Transit Partners Funding New Vanpool Program

By LAURA CIRILLO

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — For the first time, regional transit agencies are partnering to bring more vanpool options to the region.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transit Commission (PRTC), George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) are all working together to create a new vanpool service that will begin in January.

PRTC chief Alfred Harf said the three organizations have drawn inspiration from similar programs in other metro areas, while at the same time, recognizing the unique regional attributes of vanpooling.

The program envisions each vanpool owner or operator being paid $200 per month as consideration for providing statistical information from their riders. PRTC will collect the information and then submit it to the Federal Transit Administration as part of a National Transit Database.

The information will be used to determine how much federal funding the region will get to maintain and grow the vanpool program.

The $3.2 million program was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in July, and it will fund all but $1.6 million of the total cost. The remaining $1.6 million will be supplemented through a two-and-a-half year loan from PRTC and NVTC, which will be used to fund the program through its initial phases until federal funding kicks in.

The vanpool incentive program aims to not only introduce new vanpools, but also to encourage existing vanpoolers to become program participants, said Harf. Currently, there are over 800 existing vanpools in the region, and it is estimated that half of them will opt into the new program. PRTC estimates the program will grow up to 10 percent per year.

Once the program kicks off, commuters will have the ability to sign up for vanpools online.

Like slugging, the informal carpooling system that exists almost exclusively in and Northern Virginia, vanpooling has grown in the region with little government involvement, though many area vanpoolers receive the same employer-sponsored commuter monetary benefits that other transit riders who use buses or trains.

Though both PRTC and GWRC have a long history of providing vanpool services and has helped to start-up and sustain vanpools, this new Vanpool Incentive Program marks the first time that PRTC will manage such a large effort.

In other metro areas, most vanpools are largely publicly-owned or publicly-leased vans, which vanpoolers use at below-market rates, subsidized by the public agencies that run the programs to increase vanpool usage, according to Harf.

Traffic
Driver Killed on I-95

Traffic is reduced down to two lanes on Interstate 95 north at mile marker 162 after a pedestrian was struck and killed.

UPDATE Monday, Aug. 20

Clarence E. Alston, 42, of Washington, D.C., was standing outside his car that was stopped on the right shoulder of northbound I-95 at the 162 mile marker. A northbound Hyundai Santa Fe struck Alston. The Hyundai then fled the scene. The vehicle and its driver, Carol Rood-Johnson, 19, of Woodbridge, Va., were located later Saturday morning in Prince Georges County, Md.

-Press release

UPDATE Saturday noon

Charges are filed against a 19-year-old woman from Woodbridge in the hit and run death of a driver on Interstate 95 early this morning. More from the Virginia State Police: 

All northbound lanes were re-opened by 9:15 a.m. Saturday
 
Virginia State Police have charged Carol Rood-Johnson, 19, of Woodbridge, Va.,with DUI. Additional charges are pending at this time. State police have determined that Rood-Johnson was driving the Hyundai Santa Fe that struck a man who was standing next to his vehicle on the right shoulder of I-95 at the 162 mile marker in Fairfax County early Saturday morning. The man died at the scene. The Hyundai fled the scene. Through the course of the investigation, State Police were able to locate the Hyundai in Prince Georges County, Md. later Saturday morning.
 
Rood-Johnson has been taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
 
The Office fo the Medical Examiner is still in the process of making a positive identification of the deceased male victim.

ORIGINAL POST 9 a.m. 

LORTON, Va. — A pedestrian was killed this morning on Interstate 95 and police are now investigating the incident.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of I-95 north just south of Lorton, and the male driver stepped outside of their vehicle was struck and killed by a passing car. That car fled the scene, and now an accident reconstruction team is on the scene.

Traffic delays are the busy highway have mounted following the incident, A five-mile back up extends from the crash scene south into Prince William County. The right lane and shoulder have been closed for the investigation, but they should be reopening soon, said Geller.s

Here’s more from a Virginia State Police press release: 

Just before midnight, a vehicle had pulled off onto the right shoulder of I-95 at the 162 mile marker in Fairfax County. The male driver was standing next the vehicle when a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV struck the man and then fled the scene at 12:02 a.m. The man died at the scene. The hit-and-run vehicle was recovered later Saturday morning in Maryland and Virginia State Police are in the process of interviewing its female driver. Charges are pending.

The man’s body was transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for positive identification. (Once positive identification is made and next of kin is notified, we will release his name).

The northbound lanes of I-95 remain closed at this time, as clean up from the incident continues. I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as the NB lanes are re-opened.

 

Traffic
Trees Fall, HOV Lanes Narrowing

TRIANGLE, Va. — The work to expand commuting options and add toll lanes to Interstate 95 is underway.

Trees are already falling in the Triangle area where the High Occupancy Toll lanes are being extended nine miles south from Dumfries to Va. 610 in Stafford County.

From North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria, the new lanes will be a part of what will be 29 miles of the new 95 Express Lanes that will allow drivers to pay a toll to avoid traffic or continue to ride free in vehicles of three or more.

One hundred acres of trees will fall to make way for the project. Fluor-Transurban, the private operators of the lanes, said they are replacing the trees by planting 1,000 new trees in 1,000 days. The first tree was planted at a highway rest stop in Dale City after the groundbreaking of the 95 Express Lanes Project.

The express lanes are also known as High Occupancy Toll, or HOT lanes, and construction will bring some changes to drivers’ commutes. The HOV lanes north of Prince William Parkway will be completely realigned, narrowed, traffic shifted slightly to the right, and concrete barriers erected to allow crews work in the shoulder.

Older barriers that separate the HOV lanes from the travel lanes of I-95 will be replaced, new signage installed, and new drains put in during the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. during construction, according to a newsletter from Prince William Coles District Supervisor Mary Nohe.

The $1 billion project is expected to be complete in 2014 and employ 500 construction workers. The lanes will link with the 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway which are slated to open later this year.

News
Crime Watch: 4 Charged in Shooting

FROM POLICE REPORTS: 

Shooting Investigation – On August 10th at 5:53PM, police responded to the 16800 block of Taconic Cir in Dumfries (22026) for a shooting. The investigation revealed that the victims, a 19 year old man and a 16 year old male juvenile – both of Dumfries, had planned to meet up with a known acquaintance behind the Fortuna Center Plaza. There, the 16 year old victim got into a vehicle occupied by KELLEY and BRYANT. Once inside, KELLEY displayed a handgun and attempted to rob the victim. The 16 year old victim was able to get out of the vehicle, at which point both victims fled towards Stockbridge Dr. On Stockbridge Dr, the victims encountered a second vehicle, occupied byHALE and JACKSON, who were accomplices of KELLEY and BRYANT. During that encounter,JACKSON pointed a shotgun at the victims and fired, striking the 19 year old in the back and the 16 year old in the torso. Both victims were transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Several detectives were assigned to this case and were quickly able to develop the identities of those involved. HALE and BRYANT were located leaving BRYANT’s address on Brightleaf Ct and were detained following a traffic stop. JACKSON and KELLEY were both located at their respective residences where search warrants were also executed. Following an investigation, all four suspects were arrested in regard this incident which was not random.

Arrested:

Tyliek Eric KELLEY, 19, of 12810 Island House Lp in Woodbridge

Julian Xavier BRYANT, 19, of 4931 Brightleaf Ct in Woodbridge

Quientine Kyone HALE, 20, of 5924 Talmadge Dr in Woodbridge

Taymel Jerome JACKSON, 20, of 3210 Berlin Ct #103 in Woodbridge

All were charged with 2 counts of aggravated malicious wounding, 2 counts of using a firearm in commission of a felony, 2 counts of attempted armed robbery and 2 counts of conspiracy to commit robbery

Court date for all is set for October 3, 2012, all were held WITHOUT bond

Sexual Assault – On August 13th at 5:05PM, police responded to Potomac Mills Mall located at 2700 Potomac Mills Cir in Woodbridge (22192) for an assault. The victim, a 44 year old woman of North Carolina, reported to police that while in the mall she was grabbed inappropriately by an unknown man. After being grabbed, the victim confronted the man who then fled the area on foot. No injuries were reported.

Lookout:

Black male, between 25 & 35 years of age, 5’9” / 200lbs, heavy build, bald with brown eyes

Last seen wearing glasses, a black shirt and jeans

Abduction / Domestic Assault and Battery – On August 10th at 9:24PM, police responded to the 3500 block of Melrose Ave in Triangle (22172) for a domestic. The victim, a 20 year old female of Triangle, reported that she and the accused, a known acquaintance, were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated. During the encounter the accused physically assaulted the victim multiple times. At one point, the accused also physically prevented her from leaving the residence and threatened to blow up the house. Minor injuries were reported. The accused was arrested without further incident.

Arrested:

Matthew Cheston BYRD, 22, of the 3500 block of Melrose Ave in Triangle

Charged with abduction, threats to bomb and domestic assault & battery

Court date unavailable, held WITHOUT bond

Reckless Handling of a Firearm – On August 11th at 2:51AM, police responded to the 19100 block of Perry St in Triangle (22172) for a domestic. The victim, a 44 year old man of Triangle, reported to police that he was involved in an argument with the accused, a known acquaintance. During the encounter, the accused allegedly grabbed a firearm and fired a round into the ceiling. No injuries were reported. The accused was subsequently arrested without incident.

Arrested:

Caimen Ray Nelson FANCHER, 18, of 19114 Perry St in Triangle

Charged with reckless handling of a firearm

Court date unavailable, held on a $2,000 secured bond

Home Invasion / Armed Robbery – On August 11th at 3:54PM, police responded to the 3600 block of Wharf Ln in Dumfries (22026) for a home invasion. The homeowner and several other occupants present at the time, reported to police that 3 unknown men, one armed with a handgun and another armed with a shotgun, had entered the residence through an unlocked door. Once inside, the men took an undisclosed amount of U.S. Currency from several occupants before fleeing on foot. No injuries were reported. This incident does not appear to be random.

Lookout:

3 black males, unknown ages, thin build

All were last seen wearing white shirts, dark pants and masks

Peeping / Suspicious Person – On August 10th at 6:06AM, police responded to the 14200 block of Mount Pleasant Dr in Woodbridge (22191) for a suspicious person. The homeowner reported to police that she was in her kitchen when she observed an unknown man looking in at her through a rear door. Upon being noticed by the homeowner, the man fled the area. No entry was made into the residence.

Lookout:

Hispanic male, between 40 & 45 years of age, 5’7” / 140lbs, medium build with thick black hair and a mustache

Last seen wearing a white shirt sleeve shirt – no further description

Commercial Burglary – On August 11th at 1:32AM, police responded to the Dollar 99 Dry Cleaning located at 13342 Minnieville Rd in Woodbridge (22193) for a burglary. Employees reported to police that the burglary occurred at 11:41PM on August 10th. There were no signs of forced entry into the business. Entry appears to have been made through the rear door. No items were reported missing.

Residential Burglary – On August 10th at 7:34PM, police responded to the 4100 block of Granby Rd in Woodbridge (22193) for a burglary. Homeowner reported to police that the burglary occurred between 8:15AM and 7:15PM. There were no signs of forced entry into the business. Entry appears to have been made through an unsecured side door. No items were reported missing.

Attempted Residential Burglary – On August 12th at 1:44AM, police responded to the 15200 block of Lakewood Dr in Woodbridge (22192) for an attempted burglary. Homeowner reported to police that between 7:00PM on July 26th and 6:00PM on August 7th, an unknown person(s) attempted to pry open 2 side doors. No entry is believed to have been made and no items were reported missing.

Traffic
HOV Lanes Closing Nightly This Week

The Virginia Department of Transportation will close the I-95/395 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes from Dumfries Road, Exit 152 to Duke Street, Exit 3, Monday-Thursday nights, August 13-16, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Friday morning and again on Friday night, August 17, 11 p.m. to 9 a.m., Saturday morning, August 18 for paving, lane markings, barrier placement, and other related construction work on the new 95 Express Lanes project.

During night work hours, motorists will be able to access the I-395 HOV lanes north to Washington, D.C. at Seminary Road and Shirlington.

HOV lanes will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday August 18, heading north toward Washington, D.C.

Visit VAmegaprojects.com for all closures and to sign-up for alerts.

-Press release 

News
Group Addressed Multiple Tenants at Single Homes

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – On Saturday, August 4, Delegate Rich Anderson (R-Prince William) hosted a 51st House District Town Hall in a packed conference room at the McCoart Government Complex Building in response to citizen concerns over neighborhood issues in Prince William County. Also in attendance were Occoquan District Supervisor Michael C. May, staff representatives of other county supervisors, and key members of the county staff.

Some three dozen people crowded into a packed meeting room to express their concerns in a community discussion on how to make Prince William County a better place in which to live, work, and raise a family. During the meeting, residents of Woodbridge, Dale City, Occoquan, Lake Ridge, and Manassas engaged in the discussion on neighborhood issues, and Anderson pledged to continue the community conversation in a series of additional meetings.

The purpose of the get-together was to determine if local county ordinances are sufficient to address neighborhood challenges, or if additional authority is needed from the Commonwealth of Virginia to permit Prince William County officials to assist neighborhoods to a greater degree. Before the meeting, citizens were asked to put their neighborhood concerns in writing in order to better shape the discussion at the meeting. Many of these concerns centered around residential overcrowding, parking of vehicles in unauthorized locations, and operation of businesses in areas zoned for residential properties. A list of citizen questions and concerns can be found at the Neabsco Action Alliance website.

On hand to help from Prince William County staff were John E. Settlemeyer of the county’s Property Code Enforcement Branch and Robert P. Skoff of the County Attorney’s Office. Settlemeyer and Skoff are recognized experts in county ordinances and neighborhood code enforcement. Connie Moser, President of the Neabsco Action Alliance organization and Virginia’s “State Neighborhood Advocate of the Year” in 2011, helped to facilitate the meeting.

The first discussion item focused on the number of persons residing in a single-family home. Citizens from all parts of Prince William County—east, west, and mid-county—agreed that multiple tenants in a single family residence was problematic. Assistant County Attorney Skoff explained limitations of county ordinances regarding the number of permissible tenants and difficulties in the legal definition of the term “family.” After considerable discussion, the group refocused its attention from the issue of the number of occupants living in a particular dwelling to the challenges created by a large number of vehicles, trash receptacles, noise, and infringement on the neighborhood experienced by residents.

The group then turned its attention to a discussion of work vehicles parked in residential areas overnight, including the operation of businesses in residential neighborhoods. Because of the extensive nature of the neighborhood issues identified in Saturday’s meeting, Anderson offered to host additional meetings to permit the group to craft proposed solutions and to bring in additional participants from the community. Anderson concluded the meeting with assurances that he is “willing to do anything necessary to help residents feel comfortable in their neighborhoods and rebuild lost property values.”

Moser invited residents to attend monthly Neighborhood Leaders Group meetings to work with long-time neighborhood advocates on finding common-sense solutions to local neighborhood challenges. Details are on the Prince William County website.

Anderson concluded the meeting by giving his contact information to attendees and encouraged them to contact him or his legislative assistant, Ryan M. Galloway, at any time. His email address is DelRAnderson@house.virginia.gov and Mr. Galloway’s address is RGalloway@house.virginia.gov. The 51st legislative district office telephone number is 571-264-9983. Citizens with urgent needs that cannot wait until the next business day may also call Del. Anderson’s Woodbridge home at 703-730-1380.

-Press release 

Traffic
Occoquan Bridge Built with Defective Grout

OCCOQUAN, Va. — A bridge that carries commuters over the Occoquan River is one of two in the area constructed with defective grout.

The Occoquan River Bridge and Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which carries east coast traffic on I-95 over the Potomac River, were identified as two of at least 34 bridges constructed with grout contaminated with chloride making it prone to rust. The grout was manufactured in Ohio between 2002 and 2010, according to the Baltimore Sun which first broke the story.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Joan Morris said the grout does not pose and immediate safety threat, and said VDOT will continue to monitor and check the bridges for signs of rust or cracking — neither of which has been found on the Occoquan or Wilson bridges.

The Occoquan River Bridge, often referred to as the Route 123 Bridge, was completed in 2007. The new bridge was built to accommodate six lanes of traffic, and was constructed 44 feet higher to allow for taller sailboats to pass underneath.

The new Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River in Alexandria opened the following year.

 

News
Pools are Few for Area Swim Teams

By STEPHANIE TIPPLE

LAKE RIDGE, Va. — After it appeared the Lake Ridge Lancers Swim Team was going to lose their home of 40 years, the team knew they had some decisions to make.

Last week, the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club decided to not invite the Lancers back for the 2013 season, citing the team had grown too large to use their facility. But with few available swimming facilities in the area, the Lancers may still need to use the pool they’ve called home since 1972.

The swim team Board met Monday with the governing Board of the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club, and the Lancers – after the swim club’s unexpected decision drew ire from the community – were ultimately invited back next year.

Lancer team vice president Lori McDonald said a moderator was brought in to keep the meeting cordial.

“[The Lake Ridge Swim Club] decided that we could come back next year. Last Friday we got an email, saying they reconsidered and we have been invited back. What we have agreed to, based on that email, was to enter into negotiations with them,” McDonald said.

Negotiations between the team and swim club are ongoing, but no final decision has been made as to whether the team will return to the club next year. Many expressed their frustration about the lack of communication between the team and the swim club Board. A final decision could be months away.

“I think we’re not ready to burn any bridges yet and we’re investigating all of our options and one of those options includes returning to the Lake Ridge Swim Club, but it’s not the only option that we’re investigating at this time,” said McDonald.

But if terms cannot be agreed upon, where will the team go? Parents of swim team members say having enough places to swim has been a long-time issue in Prince William County. It’s a problem parks and recreation officials are all too familiar with.

“We have a lot of people that want to swim – and not enough swim lanes, basically,” said Prince William County Parks Department spokeswoman Dianne Cabot.

In 2006, the county took out bonds to pay for the addition of four new swim lanes at the Chinn Aquatics Center in Lake Ridge. But the economy tanked and the project was put on hold.

“There is a need for this but it’s not in the plans, there’s no money for it; to build any more facilities. It’s a very timely question – the problem is that it takes a lot of money to build a community center or recreation center,” Cabot said.

It could take anywhere from 10 to 12 years before county residents begin to see more public swimming pools built, she added.

That comes as more than 4,000 participants in the Prince William County Swim League, which includes the Lancers team, had just three to four viable facilities for them to use this year, according to Cabot: Veterans Park and Hammill Mill pools in Woodbridge, Graham Park Pool in Dumfries, and Birchdale Pool in Dale City.

The shortage of swim lanes in Virginia’s Potomac Communities is being addressed Stafford County, where a new aquatic center will be constructed off Va. 610. A need for pool facilities, much like the need in Prince William County, prompted this new facility in North Stafford.

According to the Stafford County Parks and Recreation office, this new aquatic center will take some much needed pressure off of the local public pool facilities in Stafford.

Traffic
I-95 HOT Lanes Construction Underway

By URIAH KISER

DALE CITY, Va. — It’s going to take two years and about $1 billon, but the effort to put toll lanes on Interstate 95 in Virginia is underway.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell was in Dale City today for the kick off of the 95 Express Lanes project. The public-private effort between the state and road builder Transurban-Fluor will see the conversion of the High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes on I-95 between Dumfries and Edsall Road in Alexandria to toll lanes. The lanes will be extended an additional nine miles south to Va. 610 in North Stafford, and will include two new flyover ramps at Joplin Road in Triangle and Va. 610. The ramps should alleviate one of the the region’s worst bottlenecks on I-95 at the HOV merge in Dumfries, officials said.

It’ll cost about $5 per vehicle to use the lanes on the entire express lane span on I-95 once they’re completed in 2014, and they’ll be built in sections. The tolls single drivers will pay will change depending upon the amount of traffic in each section – the higher the traffic volume the higher the toll.

Drivers who enter the toll lanes at one price will be able to bail out of the express lanes if they later deem the posted price for the next section is set too high.

Buses and vehicles with three or more occupants will be able to use the lanes for free as they have on the HOV lanes for years, but when the new HOT lanes open, every vehicle will be required to have an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex in order to use them.

“We are one of the most business-friendly states in America and we’ve got challenges that we’re trying to overcome, and transportation infrastructure is at the top of the list. If you can’t move people and you can’t move goods quickly to market you’re not going to get the businesses to come here…and it’s going to affect the quality of life for all of us,” said McDonnell.

A toll lane network

Once completed in 2014, the 95 Express Lanes (High Occupancy Toll lanes or HOT lanes) will join HOT lanes on I-495 in Virginia that should open later this year. It’ll be the first time carpoolers and bus riders will be able to travel on a dedicated span of express lanes from the Potomac Communities in Stafford and Woodbridge to Tysons Corner, said Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton.

The first phase of construction, which Connaughton urged officials to begin today, will entail clearing brush and trees from the median at the current HOV merge at Dumfries south to Stafford County. That’s where new asphalt will be laid to make way for two new lanes that will take drivers to Va. 610 in North Stafford.

The portion of HOT lanes between Dumfries and Prince William Parkway will remain two lanes, however, the section of lanes between Prince William Parkway and Edsall Road will be restriped to accommodate a third lane of traffic.

A 76-year operating agreement with Transurban-Fluor and the mandates vehicles must maintain a speed of 55 mph at all times in the lanes, said Connaughton.

Jobs

Officials said the new lanes will not only ensure employers will want to come to the area, the project to build the lanes will also create new jobs. Of the nearly 8,000 jobs expected to come as part of the project, 2,600 of them will be in Prince William County and 900 will come to Stafford County.

With these new lanes, toll lanes opening soon on I-495, and talk of adding new HOT lanes on I-64 in Hampton Roads, transportation crews from around the world have come to Virginia to learn more about these public-private partnerships.

“This is going to be the model for transportation projects all over the world,” said Connaughton. “It’s not just Hampton Roads that’s considering adding HOT lanes, leaders from many international countries have come to Virginia to see what were doing with transportation.”

 

News
Kayaker Pulled from Occoquan Reservoir

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — At 5:45 p.m. Sunday, Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters responded to the report of a person who had fallen out of a kayak in the Occoquan Reservoir.

Medic 514 and Engine 514 arrived on the scene and made visual contact with the victim from the nearest shore. Fortunately the victim’s mother and another Good Samaritan had come to his aid and had pulled the child from the water into a canoe.

Meanwhile, OWL Boat 514 launched from Lake Ridge Marina and quickly maneuvered to the site. The child was transported back to the marina and evaluated by OWL ambulance 514.

“We respond to about 25 to 100 water emergencies per year,” said Jim McAllister, Chief of OWL VFD. “We see an average of one to two fatalities per year. Most boating fatalities are a direct result of the victim not wearing a personal flotation device. This child was wearing a PFD and as a result, he is still with us today.”

Fire and Rescue units from OWL VFD, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue and Lake Jackson Volunteer Fire Department responded to the incident.

-Submitted

 

News
Crime Watch: Phone Threat Arrest Made, BBs Damage Windows

FROM POLICE REPORTS:

DALE CITY

Shooting at an Occupied Vehicle – On August 5th at 10:19PM, police responded to the area of Dale Blvd and Minnieville Rd in Woodbridge (22193) for a shooting at an occupied vehicle. The victim, a 27 year old woman of Woodbridge, reported to police that while driving in the above area she heard a loud noise and discovered the rear window of her vehicle had been shattered. Following an investigation, police determined that the damage to the window was caused by a BB gun. No injuries were reported. The origin of the shot is unknown.

Reckless Handling of a Firearm – On August 5th at 1:58AM, police responded to the 13500 block of Kingsman Rd in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a firearms violation. Caller reported to police that several gunshots were heard in the area. The investigation revealed that an unknown suspect(s) fired multiple shots from a firearm while driving a vehicle in the above area. After the shots were fired the suspect(s) fled the area. While checking for property damage, officers discovered an unoccupied, parked vehicle in the above area which had been struck. No injuries were reported.

Vehicle Lookout:

Nissan or Toyota, 4-door, box style vehicle, tan or gold

Attempted Malicious Wounding / Unlawful Wounding – On August 4th at 8:05PM, police responded to the 4800 block of Kellogg Dr in Woodbridge (22193) for a fight. The victim, a 21 year old man of Woodbridge, reported to police that the accused, a known acquaintance, attempted to strike him with a vehicle while in the above area. The victim was able to get out of the way to avoid being hit. The accused then parked the vehicle, grabbed a metal yard stick and struck the victim in the arm causing minor injuries. Following the encounter, the accused returned to his residence nearby where he was located by police and arrested without incident.

Arrested:

Moises Alexander RIVAS ALFARO, 27, of 4810 Kellogg Dr in Woodbridge

Charged with attempted malicious wounding and unlawful wounding

Court date set for August 29, 2012, held WITHOUT bond

Indecent Exposure – On August 5th at 2:26PM, police responded to the K-Mart located at 5851 Dale Blvd in Woodbridge (22193) for an indecent exposure. The victim, a 51 year old woman of Woodbridge, reported to police that she was inside the store when she encountered an unknown man, later identified as the accused. During the encounter, she observed the accused making inappropriate gestures. The accused then left the store in a vehicle prior to police arrival but was located a short distance away. Following an investigation, the accused was subsequently arrested.

Arrested:

Isaac RUIZ, 51, of 191 Ontario St #6 in Providence, RI

Charged with indecent exposure

Court date set for September 21, 2012, held WITHOUT bond

DUMFRIES

Residential Burglary – On August 4th at 12:55AM, police responded to the 3600 block of Jurgensen Dr in Dumfries (22026) for a burglary. Homeowner reported to police that the burglary occurred between 2:30PM on August 3rd and 12:50AM on August 4th. Entry appeared to have been made through the front door which had been pried open. A DVD player and jewelry, valued around $13,000, were reported missing.

INDEPENDENT HILL

Phone Threats – On August 2nd at 2:56PM, police responded to the Edward L Kelly Leadership Center Building located at 14715 Bristow Rd in Manassas (20112) to investigate threats made against a Prince William County School official. The investigation revealed that that the accused had called the office of the school official and made the threats to a secretary. The accused was a former employee of the school system. Following an investigation, a warrant was obtained. The accused turned himself into police on August 3rd without incident.

Arrested:

Christopher Edward CARPENTER, 45, of 6558 Hickory Ridge Rd in

Spotsylvania

Charged with phone threats

Court date unavailable, held on a $5,000 secured bond

LAKE RIDGE

Strong Armed Robbery – On August 3rd at 9:28PM, police responded to the 2200 block of Tacketts Mill Dr in Woodbridge (22192) for a robbery. The victim, a 35 year old man of Lorton, reported to police that he was approached by an unknown man in the parking lot of the above location. During the encounter, the man put his arm around the victim’s neck and demanded money. The suspect took an undisclosed amount of U.S. Currency from the victim before fleeing on foot. No injuries were reported. The investigation continues.

Lookout:

Black male, between 17 & 22 years of age, 5’8” / 130lbs, thin build

Last seen wearing a black mask, black shirt and black pants

NORTH STAFFORD

Windows Damaged — Stafford sheriff’s deputies were called to the area of Chadwick Drive and Goosepond Road in the Sky Terrace subdivision sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning after someone took a BB gun and tired to shoot out windows on various homes. There was also damage to vinyl siding on homes made by BBs fire at sides of the houses.

WOODBRIDGE

Residential Burglary – On August 4th at 4:50AM, police responded to the 2100 block of Mayflower Dr in Woodbridge (22192) for a burglary. Homeowner reported to police that the burglary occurred between 11:30PM on August 3rd and 4:30AM on August 4th. Entry appeared to have been made through a rear window which had been broken out. A laptop, gaming console, jewelry and other items, valued around $4,000, in addition to, an undisclosed amount of U.S. Currency were reported missing.

 

News
Burned Marina Owner Recovering

Carlton Phillips

OCCOQUAN, Va. — The owner of Prince William Marina – one of the most successful boat retailers in the nation – is recovering from a boat fire Thursday night.

Insidenova.com reported marina-owner Carlton Phillips suffered second degree burns while using acetone to clean a boat in the marina’s service bay. The boat caught fire, and Phillips was taken to a hospital.

A statement about Phillip’s recovery was posted Sunday morning. Information about the fire from OWL Volunteer Fire Department is also posted below:

Phillips update:

Hi everyone: just a short note to say Carlton is doing good walking all over the place (bored & wants out). Still really no pain. Skin is pulling somewhat where they grafted but all & all he is blessed.

Thank you for all your well wishes he is reading them on his iPad. Hoping to come home Tuesday. He wants me to thank everyone for your concerns.

He is keeping the nurses laughing and they keep saying he’s in the shape of a 25 year old (now that’s a good shot in the heart to get you up and going 🙂 ) You all will like this; he is calling himself “Fireball Carlton” now. All that no him will say that means he doing good and in good spirits :).

OWL VFD statement:

At 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters responded to the report of a boat fire at Prince William Marina located at 12849 Gordon Blvd, Woodbridge. OWL Engine 502 and Engine 514, Truck 514 and Medic 502 arrived on the scene within minutes and found fire from inside the galley of the boat and was under control within 15 minutes.

The boat was dry docked and located inside a bay being worked on by a crew. There was one injury and that patient was flown out to Washington Hospital Center.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Prince William County Fire Marshall’s office.

 

News
FEC Clears Indie Gibson to Run in 11th

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Mark Gibson – independent candidate for Virginia’s 11th Congressional District (VA-11) – received confirmation from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that it received and processed his principal campaign committee’s Statement of Organization, known as FEC Form 1.

Gibson’s committee will now file regular financial reports that contain all receipts and disbursements by the committee as required under the Federal Election Campaign Act. These reports can be accessed by the public at www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/imaging_help.shtml. Though not mandatory, Gibson voluntarily posts near-real-time campaign expenditures and donations under the “Finances” link of his website – www.Gibson4congress2012.com.

Gibson is now accepting contributions but only from individual 11th District voters, saying, “This campaign is based in the neighborhoods and communities that make up this District. As an independent, I’m not looking to any political movement, organization, or outside supporter. I’ll only consider local financial help.” Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, Gibson is permitted to accept contributions from a wide array of individuals and groups but has voluntarily chosen to limit contributions to those that may vote for him.

-Press release 

News
Children’s Choir Forming

DUMFRIES, Va. — The Prince William County Children’s Choir will begin its first season this fall for children ages five to 12-years-old.

Founder and Music Director Amanda Long will hold auditions August 25 and 25, and September 8 and 9. Participants are not required to have any music training to audition, only be able to read. Audition registration will open on August 10 and the choir has space for up to 60 participants for the first year; the first rehearsal will be held September 15.

The estimated cost per child to participate in the choir is $135 each. Once registered, the money is fully refundable until the first rehearsal on Sept. 15. In addition to learning and rehearsing choral music, children will also have performing opportunities in the community later this year. Rehearsal space with a piano is still being organized and sites are needed. If you know of a space in a church or municipal building with a piano, please contact Amanda Long at 571-318-6225.

Prince William County Children’s Choir is a non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible. There are many additional opportunities for community and parent volunteers, as well as an opportunity for an intern with interests in music, children’s education, or community outreach.

For all the most current details, visit pwcchildrenschoir.org.

-Submitted 

 

News
Chick-fil-A’s Cathy Postpones Appearance

PRINCE WILLAM COUNTY, Va. — Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy has always been welcomed at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, he just won’t visit them this year.

With that, the chamber this afternoon answered mounting questions focusing whether or not it would host Cathy at speaking engagement in Manassas on Nov. 27. Cathy was scheduled to speak with local business leaders about the success of his fast food restaurant chain, but chamber members complained after following a public statement by Cathy noting marriage should only be between a man and woman.

Cathy’s appearance has been rescheduled in early 2013, and all of Cathy’s speaking engagements have been canceled for the remainder of the year, according to the chamber.

Additionally, rumors that the Prince William Chamber of Commerce was considering rescinding Cathy’s invitation were false.

“While we are disappointed at having to move the date of the event, we look forward to offering this opportunity to our membership early in 2013. We know that a great many of our members will understand that, as a business leader, there are times when you must pull back and focus on day-to-day operations. In light of recent events, particularly the loss of one of their long-time employees and top executives, we respect the decision of the Chick-fil-A leadership team in taking the time to do just that.”

The “recent events” Clapper referenced is last week’s death of Chick-fil-A’s long-time corporate spokesman Donald Perry, who had worked for the company for 29 years.

Harvest Life Changers Church in Woodbridge agreed to sponsor Cathy’s Nov. 27 appearance, and will still sponsor Cathy’s scheduled appearance next year.

Prince William County has a unique tie-in with Chick-fil-A. The company’s highest grossing store is on Prince William Parkway near Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge.

 

Traffic
PRTC Upgrades Phone System

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — An upgrade to the phone system at the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission provides riders easier access to vital travel information without having to wait to personally speak with a Customer Service Agent.

The upgraded phone system saves some passengers from waiting on hold to speak with PRTC staff and enables PRTC Customer Service Agents to devote more time to callers who need individualized attention.

The improved phone system enables passengers to:

• Receive scheduled bus arrival times based on the bus stop number or bus route;

• Learn about bus fares and passes;

• Hear service alerts; and

• Confirm or cancel previously scheduled off-route trips on OmniLink local buses.

PRTC’s OmniLink local buses can travel up to ¾ mile off the standard route to pick up and drop off passengers who are unable to access a regular bus stop. Passengers must call Customer Service at least two hours in advance to book OmniLink off-route trips.

To access information about OmniLink off-route bus trips, callers must speak once with a Customer Service agent to get their personalized phone system ID and password. Once callers have that information, they may confirm or cancel their scheduled trip at any time of the day or night. All other information on the phone system is available without an ID or password.

PRTC provides commuter and local bus services in Prince William County and the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. The Customer Service office is open from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. To speak with an agent or test the new phone system, call (703) 730-6664.

-Press release 

 

Traffic
Dale City to Host I-95 HOT Lanes Kick Off

By LAURA CIRILLO

DALE CITY, Va. — Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell will appear in Dale City on Tuesday to announce the start of construction for the Interstate 95 Express Lanes project.

The project, which will convert the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes between Dumfries and the Springfield Mixing Bowl to High Occupancy Toll, or HOT lanes, will forever change the way commuters travel on I-95.

Scheduled to join McDonnell at the 9:30 a.m. groundbreaking at a rest area on I-95 south is Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connnaughton, Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Rob Wittman, Delegate Bill Howell, of Stafford, and Prince William County Board of Supervisor Chairman At-large Corey Stewart.

The project will not only convert a portion of the existing HOV lanes between Dumfries and Edsall Road in Alexandria, but will extend the lanes nine miles south from Dumfries to Va. 610 (Garrisonville Road) in North Stafford. Also included in the construction will be eight new or improved access points to and from the express lanes at key interchanges, as well as the addition or expansion of commuter parking lots.

The finished project will result in 29 miles of HOT lanes which vehicles with three or more occupants can access for free. Vehicles with just one occupant can choose to pay a toll to use the lanes.

All vehicles will be required to have an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex to use the lanes, and the toll will vary depending on the amount of vehicles in the express lanes. For single drivers, the average commute is expected to cost somewhere between $5 and $6, according a press release.

The groundbreaking of the 95 Express Lanes comes as McDonnell finally announced the approval of the nearly $1 billion project on Tuesday, which for months had been the worst kept secret in transportation news.

The project in 2008 was marred in controversy and was placed on hold after Arlington County sued the state and pushed for more environmental impact studies to be done before construction could begin. Prince William County officials also opposed I-95 HOT lanes until concessions were made and a handful of new road improvement projects in the county were announced in early 2011.

Ultimately, Arlington officials dropped their lawsuit and state transportation officials redrew plans to end the I-95 HOT lanes facility at Edsall Road.

Calling it “a historical day for transportation and the economy in Virginia,” McDonnell stated that the project will provide congestion relief for Northern Virginia and will add close to 8,000 jobs during the two-year project, which is expected to be completed by 2014.

“The 95 Express Lanes combined with the nearly completed 495 Express Lanes will bring a transportation network that manages congestion efficiently, saving time and better connecting commuters with some of Virginia’s most important employment centers and military sites,” added Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton.

The $925 million project is a joint venture between Transurban Drive and Fluor Enterprises, Inc. The Virginia Department of Transportation will maintain ownership of the infrastructure and will continue to manage the project. Transurban and Fluor  will provide $854 million in funding, with VDOT providing the remaining $71 million in public funds, according to the press release.

Integrated in the funding is a traffic safety and enforcement program, which will include technology and crews needed for incident detection and response, as well as more Virginia State Troopers to help reduce the number of HOV violators.

 

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