For a Better Commute. For a Better Prince William County.

Prince William

Traffic
Despite a brand new portion of trail, there’s no room to walk on Catharpin Road

There are pedestrian connection problems between Haymarket and Gainesville.

“I’ve don’t know if you’ve been down Catharpin Road, between the bridge and Route 55, but there is nowhere to walk,” said Prince William County Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland.

No, I hadn’t ever walked down Catharpin Road, but I knew the bridge Candland referenced was recently built. So I decided to take a walk.

Catharpin Road is a two-lane thoroughfare linking the busy Heathcote Boulevard with Route 55, the John Marshall Highway. The bridge carries cars and pedestrians over Interstate 66.

As more homes pop up, and they are, more people are choosing to use Catharpin Road to walk to where they’re going, as referenced by the beaten down path on the northbound side of Catharpin Road.

I parked my car at a nearby Harris Teeter grocery store, and then walked along Catharpin headed to the bridge. Candland was correct when he said there is no room to walk along the street the closer to you get to the bridge.

I tried to say out of the road and walk in people’s front yards. However, that became impossible the closer I got to the bridge. Drivers had to dodge me, a pedestrian walking in the lane.

The new, two-lane bridge opened in August as part of $65 million projects to widen I-66 between Route 29 in Gainesville and Route 15 in Haymarket. As bridges go, it’s a nice one, complete with a 10-foot shared use trail on the northbound side of the bridge.

But the trail nearly starts and stops on the bridge, and there’s no connection to another shared-use path about 650 yards away near the Harris Teeter.

This problem is commonly referred to as “sidewalks to nowhere.” In some cases, developers, and in the case with the bridge the Virginia Department of Transportation, will have to build a sidewalk or trail and not connect it to anything, because it’s either not apart of the project, or funding ran out.

But there’s an effort underway to get new funding to complete the trail. Prince William County officials applied for funds, including state grants, to finish the trial.

The total estimated cost of the completed trail is $2.6 million.

“The proposed 10’ wide asphalt trail will be on the east side of Catharpin Road, from John Marshall Highway (Route 55) to the existing bridge on I-66. The trail will continue from the existing bridge on I-66, 660’ north to tie into an existing trail, for a total length of 2,250 [feet],’ Prince William County Regional Transportation Planner Paolo J. Belita penned to Potomac Local in an email.

The county has yet to hear if the money has been awarded, so, there’s no timeframe on when the trail will be completed.

“This trail will better connect employment centers to where people live,” added Candland.

Traffic
The shock and awe that was Monday’s opening of E-ZPass Express Lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway

The highest toll to travel the nine-mile portion of Interstate 66, from the Captial Beltway to Washington. D.C. jumped as high as $34.50 on Monday morning.

The peak toll was reached at 8:36 a.m. The low for the morning: $4.50 at 5:36 a.m.

Monday was the first day that drivers on I-66 had to contend with new tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway. Drivers must now have an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex to use the highway between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and 3 to 7 p.m. every weekday.

Single drivers must pay while vehicles with two or more occupants can ride free with an E-ZPass Flex. But all vehicles must have an E-ZPass to ride.

It’s a change from the old rules that mandated, up until last week, drivers traveling on I-66 inside the Beltway during peak rush hour travel times must have two or more occupants in the car — no E-ZPass required.

During Monday afternoon’s commute, it was clear drivers who that may have once taken I-66 instead opted to stay off the highway and use arterial roads like U.S. Route 50.

It seems commuters rolled well with the changes on Monday morning. 

“No significant crashes or traffic problems to report with this morning’s rush hour. State police thanks all the motorists who put the extra effort into planning ahead and being prepared for the I-66 changes,” wrote Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller in an email to Potomac Local.

The Virginia Department of Transportation released the following stats on first-day E-ZPass Express Lane “Inside the Beltway” travel: 

Following the first morning rush hour for drivers using the new 66 Express Lanes inside the Beltway, the Virginia Department of Transportation provides the following statistics:
 
E-ZPass
About 86% of users traveled with E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex. The remaining 14% were likely traveling without a transponder (this figure also include motorcycles, which do not need a transponder to use the lanes).

High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV-2+)
About 37% of vehicles traveled as carpools and rode for free (using E-Z Pass Flex set to HOV-this also includes buses) over the four-hour period.

Average Speeds and Travel Times
Average speeds on this segment of I-66 were 57 miles per hour, compared with an average of 37 mph at last year this time.
Average travel times were 10-12 minutes for the I-66 corridor during the morning rush hour, compared with a range of 15 to 25 minutes during a typical Monday morning period.

Arterial Routes
Signals and engineering staff monitored parallel arterial routes such as George Washington Parkway, Routes 7, 29, 50, 123 and 193. On average, traffic volumes, speeds, and travel times remained similar when compared with figures from last year at this time.

This marks the first new opening of an E-ZPass Express Lane opening in three years, since the opening of the I-95 Express Lanes from Route 610 in Stafford to Alexandria in December 2014. Virginia’s toll lane network continues to expand as work is underway to add E-ZPass Express Lanes to I-66 outside the Beltway, from Gainesville to Dunn Loring, and to convert old HOV lanes to toll lanes from Alexandria to the Pentagon.

I-66 outside the Beltway remains the nation’s only HOV-2 highway, meaning drivers may use the HOV lane with just 2 occupants of the vehicle. Today’s changes inside the Beltway make the new road the toll-only highway facility in the nation, during rush hour.

From VDOT: 

“The I-66 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes-the nation’s first peak-period, all-lanes-dynamically-tolled roadway-are designed to offer new travel choices that move more people on I-66 with greater speed and reliability. Toll prices will change based on real-time traffic volumes in order to manage demand for the lanes and keep traffic moving.”

The old exemptions for those using I-66 to access the Dulles Toll Road, or using a Clean Special Fuel license plate reserved for hybrid cars, also went out the window on Monday. 

“Exemptions for Dulles International Airport users and Clean Special Fuel License Plate vehicles (hybrids) are no longer in effect. The lanes remain open to all users during off-peak periods, including weekends.”

If you ride a motorcycle, you can still use I-66 any time for free, and you don’t need an E-ZPass.

News
Andrea Short tapped as new Executive Director of Leadership Prince William

Andrea Short will move down the hall into her new role as Director of Leadership Prince William.

Short was selected to replace Kathy Bentz as the head of the organization. Its headquartered inside the offices of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, where Short currently works as the communications and marketing director.

Short will take the job starting in January.

“We are thrilled Andrea will be joining Leadership Prince William,” said Mary Finnigan, Leadership Prince William Chair. “With her volunteer leadership experience and talents in community outreach, media relations, and marketing, along with her deep commitment to our mission, Andrea will be a tremendous asset.”

What’s Leadership Prince William? Here’s a short explainer from a press release:

“Leadership Prince William is a network of community leaders representing governments, businesses, and the nonprofit sectors of the Prince William Region. Their Signature Program brings together civic-minded adults for a dynamic 10-month leadership skills development program.

The Summer Youth Academy offers regional middle school-aged leaders a unique leadership and team-building experience over ten days each summer.”

A lifelong resident of Prince William County, Short has worked as the Chamber’s communications director since 2014. Earlier this year, she was appointed as Secretary on the Board of Regents. She graduated from Leadership Prince William is 2015.

“I am honored to have been selected as Executive Director for Leadership Prince William. In the early days of my employment with the Chamber, I realized that there was so much I did not know about how our community operates, and the many opportunities for service,” said Short. “The last 10 years have been a journey of continued discovery and deepening passion for serving. I am grateful to the Prince William Chamber for the years of growth and to Leadership Prince William for the opportunity to help equip and launch local leaders.”

News
Man spotted peeping through woman’s window

Police are searching for a peeping tom in Woodbridge. 

From a press release: 

Peeping Investigation – On December 2 at 3:45AM, officers responded to a residence located in the 2000 block of Harpers Hill Way in Woodbridge (22192) to investigate a peeping incident. The victim, a 22-year-old woman, reported to police that she was in her bedroom when she saw an unknown male peering through her window. The suspect fled the area on foot when the victim screamed.

No other contact was made between the parties. Officers checked the area and did not locate the suspect. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

Black male, 6’00”, 160lbs, a thin build, long black dreadlocks, and a scraggly beard

News
Children at wineries and breweries: It’s not only legal, it’s encouraged

As Virginia’s wine and craft beer industries continue to grow, many of the millions of annual visitors to establishments throughout the state bring their children.

It’s not only legal but encouraged by many wineries and breweries.

Barrel Oak Winery & Farm Taphouse in Delaplane is known for encouraging children to join their parents. Alcohol is peripheral when families visit, said proprietor Brian Roeder.

“We are more like them visiting a park with the extra fun of tasting and learning about great Virginia wines,” Roeder said. “We do not believe that you should have to remain at home just because you have kids. We treat parents and their kids with respect – and we just ask that they do the same for the people around them.”

With more than 260 wineries, the wine industry contributes nearly $1.4 billion annually to Virginia’s economy, according to a 2015 study. The law on who can visit those wineries – and breweries – is straightforward, said Taylor Thornberg, public relations specialist for Virginia ABC.

“There are no ABC laws or regulations restricting children and minors from entering any establishment that sells or serves alcohol,” Thornberg said. “It is entirely at the discretion of the business. The only ABC law regarding children and minors is that it is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol to persons under 21.”

Many of the wineries and breweries that allow children do so because they also serve food or provide a family-friendly atmosphere, Thornberg said.

“Since all our mixed beverage licensees – ones that serve liquor or spirits – are required to serve food on-premises, they are considered restaurants, not bars,” he said. “Regardless of the type of license, it is up to the business as to whether they allow persons under 21 inside.”

The state’s official tourism travel blog makes it clear kids are accepted at many of the wineries that dot the Commonwealth: “If ever you were in doubt about whether children are welcome at wineries (a la the ABC store), query no more. Your children are welcome with open arms and greeted with their own ‘juice’ and acres of green to run off steam.”

Virginia Wine, the online home of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, allows users to filter for “child-friendly” wineries when searching for places and events.

Many of the more than 200 breweries throughout the state also allow children when they’re accompanied by an adult. Water’s End Brewery in Lake Ridge has positioned itself as a neighborhood brewery and community gathering place, which extends to young families.

“One of the coolest things we’ve been able to offer our community is an outlet for young parents to feel like adults again,” said co-owner Ryan Sharkey. “We are surrounded by neighborhoods and many of our customers can easily walk a few hundred yards to the brewery. For young parents, this offers an opportunity to get out of the house without a babysitter and have a couple guilt free beers without navigating the dangers and concerns of getting back home safely.”

The policy is similar at the recently opened 2 Silos Brewing Co. just outside Manassas.

“It’s not only a brewery, it’s a destination experience,” said Meredith Arnest, director of brand development for the Villagio Hospitality Group, which oversees the entire project. There is food plus the Farm Brew Live music venue. On live music nights, after 9 p.m., anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

“We have the live music aspect that during the day is a really great thing, especially when the weather is nice, to be outside with family and friends and sharing the entire experience,” Arnest said. “We do have the option to have a great time, and alcohol’s not even involved at all, and it’s just a family event. Or it gives the option to be able to have a beer or two and the whole family’s involved.”

Some patrons like Dan Donohue, of Bristow, believes breweries and wineries have the right to allow children at their establishments. “It encourages a family-friendly atmosphere, and increased traffic,” he said.

But not all wineries and breweries encourage parents to bring their children. Some don’t allow minors at all. Chateau O’Brien at Northpoint Winery and Vineyard in Markham has a strict policy: “Only 21 years of age or older permitted on premises for safety reasons.”

Two other wineries in Delaplane also prohibit children. Delaplane Cellars says all guests must be over the age of 21, while RdV Vineyards requires that “all guests be age 21 and over (this means no infants and children).”

Many wineries and breweries allow children in specified areas but restrict them in others, such as production facilities. Another concern is whether children will bother other customers.

Several establishments address that directly in their policies, such as this from the Winery at La Grange in Haymarket: “We are a family friendly winery, however, we do insist that all children are under direct adult supervision at all times. Keep in mind that some of our patrons desire a quieter winery experience so please be respectful of our other customers and our property.

Despite such concerns, those places that allow children believe the policy benefits both their business and their customers. Barrel Oak’s family-friendly atmosphere has drawn widespread notice, earning it top mention in Wine Enthusiast magazine’s worldwide list of “6 Top Family-Friendly Wineries” in 2012.

“I personally love it that parents trust us to be a place where they can bring the most precious thing in their lives – their kids,” said Roeder. “I love it that we are a safe place for families to hang out.  I love that friendships are created because of that. We would not trade being kid-friendly for anything in the world.”

Traffic
Here are your new buses if you’re bound for Ballston, Rosslyn, or Virginia Tech/I-81 corridor

Commuters will have a new option to get around the construction for the Interstate 395 E-ZPass Express Lanes.

Virginia officials are offering $260,000 for a new express bus to serve the I-95 and 395 corridors during the anticipated two-year project to convert the HOV lanes between Duke Street and the Pentagon to E-ZPass Express Lanes.

There are four proposed trips from Dale City in Prince William County to the Ballston/Rosslyn corridor in Arlington. A list of stops, operating timetables, and fares for the bus service has not yet been worked out, according to Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo.

While the Commission would operate the service, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will fund the service through its transportation management plan.

PRTC currently operates a similar state-funded bus on I-66 as crews work to add E-ZPass lanes between Gainesville in Prince William County and Dunn Loring in Fairfax County. The Gainesville to the Pentagon and Washington, D.C. buses serve a commuter lot on Limestone Drive and then serves Linton Hall Road before getting on I-66.

Weekday afternoon trips take commuters from the Pentagon and Downtown D.C. home again. 

A one-way fare is $9.60 or $6.90 when paid with a SmarTrip card.

The PRTC Board of Commissioners must approve the measure, and it’s expected to take up the measure at its Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, at 7 p.m.

The new E-ZPass bus will be the second in a series of new state-funded bus services. On December 1, DRPT launched the Virginia Breeze inter-city bus service between Virginia Tech, Dulles Airport, Arlington, and Union Station in Washington, D.C.

A one-way ticket between Blacksburg and Washington. D.C. will cost riders about $50. The bus will travel I-81 and also serve stops in Christiansburg, Lexington, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Front Royal.

The northbound route will leave the Virginia Tech Squires Student Center at 8 a.m. daily and arrive at Union Station at 2:30 p.m. A daily southbound bus will leave daily from Union Station at 9:30 a.m. and arrive at Virginia Tech at 3:40.

The Virginia Breeze is the state’s first inter-city commuter bus.



JES Foundation Repair provides FREE inspections to homeowners suspecting damage from recent earthquakes

Regional experts who helped hundreds after the Mineral, Va. earthquake are available to inspect homes damaged from the recent Howard County, M.d. and Dover, Del. earthquakes.

After the 2011 earthquake in Mineral, JES Foundation Repair had a busy schedule inspecting and repairing homes from Virginia Beach to Baltimore. Now with the tremors recently in Howard County and Dover,  the Manassas branch of JES is ready to provide free inspections to homeowners in Maryland or Northern Virginia that might wonder if their home’s foundation was affected.

Signs and symptoms of possible damage to a home’s foundation from an earthquake include cracks in brick, cracks in drywall, doors, and windows that stick and uneven floors. Leaning chimneys pulling away from the home is one of the more common damages that occur even with minor tremors.

If there is damage, JES provides a free assessment and estimate on what is needed for a long-term repair solution. Call 877-537-9675 or go to jeswork.com to arrange the free inspection.

About JES Companies

JES Companies specializes in residential foundation repair, crawl space encapsulation, basement waterproofing, and concrete lifting. It is comprised of JES Foundation Repair, JES Evergreen, Indiana Foundation Service, and Mount Valley Foundation Services. JES Companies operates out of five offices in Virginia including Manassas, Virginia Beach, Chester, Appomattox, and Salem as well as Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbia, South Carolina. JES has been named to the Fortune 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, Virginia Chamber of Commerce Fantastic 50, Inside Business Roaring Twenty and Best Places to Work. JES Companies serves Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Georgia. For more information about JES, please visit www.jeswork.com.

News
Bring an unwrapped toy for the annual VRE Marine Corps Toys for Tots collection Wednesday

From a press release: 

VRE will be holding its Annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots collection next Wednesday, December 6th. For those who wish to participate, please bring a new unwrapped toy to your morning train and leave it on the seat. VRE “elves” will then collect the toys and deliver them to the Marine Corps for distribution. If you would prefer to give a monetary donation, please give it to your conductor that same morning.

Toys for Tots is an annual event where VRE and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve partner to collect toys for those who cannot afford a holiday gift. We are proud to say that VRE riders are some of the largest contributors to the Northern Virginia area and we look forward to continuing that tradition. We thank you in advance and appreciate your continued generosity toward those less fortunate.



Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center leads the mission for women and family-centered care

Newly renovated rooms, family birthing units and an open floor plan is transforming the patient experience for expectant mothers. 

On Thursday, November 30, 2017, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center officially launched its Women’s Health Center. The hospital recently celebrated 45 years of serving the community. This latest development showcases Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s commitment to women and families.   

For decades, we’ve served the community as Women’s and Children’s services.  As we look towards the future, we are focused on the comprehensive needs of women in Northern Virginia. The new Women’s Health Center provides the infrastructure we need to expand our services and care for women throughout their lifetime,” explains Kathie Johnson, President, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

The new Women’s Health Center offers 27 newly renovated rooms. These private rooms feature a contemporary, open floor plan with an ensuite bathroom, infant warming beds and room for family and friends, all in close proximity to nursing staff. State of the art nursing stations allow caregivers to monitor mothers’ labor and symptoms as they occur and allow immediate response. This, coupled with Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s level 2 NICU, supported by our partnership with Children’s National Health System, enables us to ensure 24/7, top of the line, neonatology care, all to benefit the tiniest members of our community.

“The location of our NICU allows babies who require extra support to be cared for at a neonatal facility close to home. Our goal is to provide seamless, coordinated care to make this a positive experience for mother, child and family,” explains Johnson. 

This full-service center supports our goal, which is to provide the highest quality of care. An extension of our Women’s Health Center features access to a team of female Nurse Navigators specializing in Obstetrics, Cardiac, Orthopedics, Urology, Bariatrics and Oncology. This group of women clinicians understands and will support you through your health journey, with a full range of preventative health screenings, education program and support groups for every phase of your life. 

“Our new name says to everyone, including the moms, that you and your family are first. It demonstrates our unique needs as women and how we need to make our health a priority,” adds Florence Pullo, RN, Interim Director, Women’s Health Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

To find a physician to care for you, through every stage of your life, call 1-800-SENTARA.

News
Police work to identify victim in fatal hit run, search for suspect

Prince William police are searching for a suspect in a fatal hit and run in Triangle. 

From a press release: 

Fatal Crash | Hit & Run Investigation – On November 29 at 8:44PM, investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit responded to the 18800 block of Fuller Heights Rd in Triangle (22172) to investigate a crash involving a pedestrian. When officers arrived, they located an adult male lying in the roadway suffering from serious, life threatening injuries and was flown to a local hospital where he later died.

The initial investigation revealed that the pedestrian, who was not in a crosswalk, was attempting to cross the westbound lane of Fuller Heights Rd when he was struck by an unknown vehicle traveling eastbound. The striking vehicle did not remain at the scene.

Investigators are awaiting a positive identification of the pedestrian. The pedestrian is believed to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision. Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to contact Investigator Cruz Reyes at 703-792-4443 or email their contact information to policedept@pwcgov.org. The investigation continues.

Suspect Vehicle Description:

Possibly a grey, older model SUV with a light color top and damage to the passenger side headlight

Traffic
Here are the major road projects Prince William County officials requested funding for this week

Commuters on the congested Route 28 corridor are one step closer to getting relief.

In a request to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), Prince William County leaders submitted a list of 11 projects be funded, to include at least $200 million in long-awaited improvements to Route 28 between Manassas and Fairfax County. The NVTA, created by legislators in 2013 with a sales tax hike, called for projects to be funded in its first-ever six-year funding cycle where some $1.5 billion will be awarded for transportation projects.

The Route 28 improvement project is a priority, with up to $3 million going first to fund a required environmental impact study, and later funds being used for project design and construction.

Officials held a series of public hearings in September to discuss improvement options for the corridor which include creating a Manassas bypass, by extending Godwin Drive from Sudley Road to Route 28 at the Fairfax County line, or, the most expensive option, widening Route 28 in Yorkshire.

“What we need on route 28 is more capacity,” said NVTA Chairman Marty Nohe, who also sits on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, representing the Coles District where the Route 28 improvements would take place. “Essentially, we need a bigger pipe for traffic to flow through.”

Fairfax County officials are working on a $68 million project to widen Route 28 from the Bull Run to Route 29.

A widened Route 28 in Prince William could open to traffic as early as 2024.

The environmental impact study could begin as early as next year. When it comes to the Godwin Drive / Manassas bypass, there are concerns the road “would have a significant negative impact on Bull Run Regional Park” where it connects with Route 28 at the Fairfax / Prince William County line.

Interchanges on Route 234

Also on the list was a funding request to convert a series of intersections on another Manassas bypass – Route 234 / Prince William Parkway — from signalized intersections to grade-separated interchanges. These projects also rank high on NVTA’s project review list.

“With Route 234, the road is big enough, but there are too many places that you have to stop at lights,” added Nohe.

Prince William County transportation officials hope to obtain funding to redo intersections at Route 234 at Brentsville Road, at University Boulevard, Sudley Manor Drive and Wellington roads, and at Clover Hill Road.

These new improvements would join a new, $145 million diverging diamond intersection that will be built to replace a traffic signal at Route 234 / Prince William Parkway at Balls Ford Road. Balls Ford Road will also be widened from two to four lanes from Devlin Road east to Sudley Road.

The diverging diamond will be funded, in part, with a $579 million grant from the operators of the soon-to-be-built Interstate 66 E-ZPass Express Lanes. The interchange project ranked the highest on a list of projects vying for the grant funding, according to Nohe, whose NVTA ranked a long list of projects from Arlington and Fairfax counties, Virginia Railway Express, and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.

Nohe said he’s confident the interchanges would be constructed, albeit in phases, with new junctions reconstructed first at Brenstsville and Sudley Manor Road, with junctions at University Boulevard and Clover Hill Roads ranking lower on the priorities list.

The proposed interchanges have not been designed, so it’s unclear how much they’ll cost, or if they’ll be constructed as diverging diamond interchanges to match Balls Ford Road, and a newly reconstructed junction at I-66 and Route 15 in Haymarket.

Not related to Bi-County Parkway 

This series of interchanges have been on Prince William County Transportation Director Rick Canizales’ radar for years. On Tuesday, he assured Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson that these interchanges “have no relation” to the Bi-County Parkway. Now removed from the county’s comprehensive plan, that road would have converted Route 234 / Prince William Parkway into a limited access highway, linking I-95 in Dumfries to an area in Loudoun County near Dulles Airport.

Nohe echoed Canizales statements in an interview with Potomac Local on Wednesday.

Other improvements 

The county also requested funds to extend Summit School Road near the Sentara Lake Ridge Medical Center to Telegraph Road. Then, Telegraph Road would be widened from two to four lanes, connecting drivers with the Horner Road Commuter Lot.

Prince William officials also endorsed projects to widen Route 1 from Brady’s Hill Road north to Route 234 in Dumfries, and the addition of a third track at the Woodbridge VRE station, in its NVTA funding request.

It’s a competitive funding process where Prince Willima’s projects will be weighed with other jurisdictions submissions. In the coming weeks, officials in Prince William and other jurisdcitions will be asked to rank the projects on thier lists from greatest to least importance. 

Traffic
OmniRide buses to serve Metro stations Thursday afternoon due to National Christmas Tree Lighting

From PRTC OmniRide: 

PRTC’s Emergency Service Plan for Non-Weather-Related Events will be in effect on Thursday, November 30 for OmniRide buses during the afternoon/evening commute for the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

We know from experience that our buses would face extremely long delays in D.C. during the ceremony due to numerous road closures and heavy pedestrian traffic. As a result, beginning at 2 p.m., OmniRide buses will only pick up from the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station for eastern Prince William County passengers and Tysons Corner Metro Station for Manassas, Gainesville and Linton Hall passengers.

Midday trips meeting at the Pentagon around 12:30 p.m. will operate at the normal times along the regular routes. (These include the D-101T, D-301, L-201, MC-101 and M-201 trips.) All other afternoon/evening trips will depart from the Metro stations. All regular drop-off stops will be served. Services from the Metro stations will continue until 7:30 p.m.except for Prince William Metro Direct buses, which will continue operating until their last published departure time. Mark Center and Tysons Corner OmniRide routes will not operate.

Because this is an anticipated event, OmniRide passengers will pay the current Metro Direct fare: $4.25 cash or $3.45 SmarTrip. Other buses will operate regular service on November 30.

Traffic
New traffic signal with turn lanes and pedestrian improvements proposed at Blackburn Road and Rippon Boulevard

From VDOT: 

The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public information meeting Wednesday, Dec. 6 on plans to improve the intersection of Blackburn Road and Rippon Boulevard to improve traffic operations and safety.

The project plans include a new traffic signal with turn lanes and pedestrian improvements at the Blackburn and Rippon intersection.

The public is invited to stop by between 6:30 and 8 p.m. in the library at Freedom High School, 15201 Neabsco Mills Road, Woodbridge, VA 22191to view displays, learn more about the project, preliminary design. The project team will discuss signal and non-signal options at the Rippon Boulevard and Blackburn Road intersection and the Rippon Boulevard and Forest Grove Drive intersection. VDOT staff will be available to answer questions. 

A presentation will begin at 7 p.m.

Comments may be provided at the meeting or sent to VDOT by Dec. 16, 2017. E-mail or mail comments to Ms. Angel Tao, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

View the project page for more details.

News
How Prince William leaders plan to work together to eliminate trailer classrooms in the county’s public schools

WOODBRIDGE — Elected leaders vowed Tuesday night to work across legislative bodies to find new school site for Prince William County students.

More than $163 million is needed over the next 10 years to eliminate trailer or portable classrooms at county schools. That’s in addition to the school division’s 10-year, $1.2 billion capital improvement plan.

School Board members met with the County Board of Supervisors, where they learned the construction of two new middle schools, and 50 new elementary school classrooms would eliminate the need for trailers by 2028.

Until now, leaders had relied on proffers from developers, of donated land inside new housing developments, where new schools could be built. Changes in state law enacted last year prohibit local officials from seeking those new school sites and have forced the county’s school division and Board of Supervisors — the taxing authority — to examine purchasing future school sites.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, At-large urged members of both boards to pressure state General Assembly members to reform a proffer system that leaves their hands tied when it comes to pushing developers for incentives. While the Board of Supervisors has approved far fewer new housing developments over the past year, new homes continue to be built, by right, on previously zoned land.

“The Board of Supervisors approved six units in 2016, not 600, or 60, six. And when you’re not rezoning units, they go and build units designed 30 years ago,” said Stewart. “We’re not approving developments, but that doesn’t mean there is not any development going on.”

The move toward closer collaboration comes after a series of meetings of the Joint County/School Capital Process Team made up of members of the School Board and Board of Supervisors. Woodbridge District Supervisors urged members of both boards to come together sooner than later to work on a funding and land acquisition scheme.

“It seems like we’re all in violent agreement. We want to reduce class sizes, we want to remove trailers, and we want to move forward on land banking because buying it now is cheaper than waiting until later,” said Principi.

Building new additions to schools isn’t the same thing as reducing the number of students per classroom. Prince William County has the highest class sizes in the region.

“I had seven trailers at Vaughn [Elementary School] while I was principal, and then we built a wing, got rid of trailers,” said Occoquan District School Board Representative Lilly Jessie. “The only way you reduce the number of trailers is you have to build another school or build an addition.”

Building a new wing to a school only allows for students in overcrowded classrooms to move to a new classroom. Only the construction of a new school building can eliminate the need for trailers, school board members argued.

Building bigger schools is also a benefit. A push last year by Supervisors Peter Candland and Jeannie Lawson to increase by 500 seats the size of a planned 13th high school saved county taxpayers as much as $180 million.

Historically, the county school division has needed about 20 acres to build an elementary school, 60 for a middle school, and 80 for a high school. But with land becoming scarce, especially in the eastern side of the county, leaders will have to think outside of the box.

“If we’re going to build new schools where they are most needed, where existing schools are the most overcrowded, we may need to build the same schools on a smaller footprint,” said Coles District School Board Representative Willie Deutsch.

That may mean some schools could be built without what has been standard amenities, to include practice sports fields.

News
MISSION BBQ Gainesville to celebrate opening with a week of events

From a press release: 

MISSION BBQ is opening its 57th location in Gainesville, VA on Monday, December 11, 2017. This will be the 13th location in Virginia for the restaurant known for its traditional American BBQ with a hefty side of patriotism. 

Co-founders, Bill Kraus and Steve Newton achieved the original goal of 40 restaurants two years ahead of schedule in November 2016. The opening of the Gainesville location is part of MISSION BBQ’s new expansion plans, with a targeted goal of 80 restaurants throughout the East Coast by the end of 2018. 

As is tradition with the opening of every MISSION BBQ, the Gainesville location will host charity nights throughout the week leading up to the Grand Opening, with all sales donated to organizations chosen by local police and fire departments in the Gainesville Community, as well as to the USO.

All Grand Opening events will be held at: MISSION BBQ, 13944 Promenade Commons St Gainesville, VA 20155

Firefighters Friends and Family Night – Private Party – Invitation Only

Wednesday, December 6: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Benefiting The Johnny Thomas Foundation  

Police Officers Friends and Family Night – Private Party – Invitation Only 

Thursday, December 76 p.m. – 9 p.m. Benefiting Team Prince William Law Enforcement United     

Military Appreciation Night – Open to the Public

Friday, December 86 p.m. – 9 p.m. Benefiting The USO – Metropolitan Washington–Baltimore   

Grand Opening Day – Open to the Public

Monday, December 1112 Noon 

Live rendition of the National Anthem, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Doors open immediately afterward.

Traffic
Prince William police Captain James Carr on driver safety on Davis Ford and Yates Ford roads


In a follow-up post to our Davis Ford and Yates Ford roads Traffic Think Tank, here’s a video we showed during the event on Oct. 19, 2017.

We asked Prince William County Police Department Captain James Carr about traffic conditions and driver safety concerns that he and his officers would like the public to be aware of.

News
Gainesville man charged with abduction and assault & battery

From Prince William County police:

Abduction | Domestic Assault & Battery – On November 27 at 10:37 a.m., officers responded to investigate a domestic dispute that occurred at a residence located in the 14000 block of Indigo Bunting Ct in Gainesville (20155) earlier that morning at approximately 1:00 a.m.

The victim, a 42-year-old woman, reported to police that she and the accused, an acquaintance, were involved in a verbal altercation that escalated physically. During the encounter, the accused bit the victim on the arm and pulled pieces of her out of from her head. At one point, the victim tried to escape the residence through a second story window. The accused then locked the victim in a bedroom and prevented her from contacting police.

The victim was eventually able to leave the home several hours later. The victim went to an area medical facility where police were contacted. Minor injuries were reported. Following the investigation, the accused, identified as P J Kwame ADJEI-PREMPEH, was arrested.

Arrested on November 27:
P J Kwame ADJEI-PREMPEH, 44, of the 14000 block of Indigo Bunting Ct in Gainesville
Charged with abduction, preventing the summoning of law enforcement and domestic assault & battery
Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

News
Small Business Saturday a blessing for area shops

OCCOQUAN — Patriot Scuba is celebrating its best post-Thanksgiving Day sales period, ever.

Sales were so good for the independently-owned and operated diving shop in Occoquan owner Merial Currer extended her Small Business Saturday promotions through Sunday. The business offered up to 50% off diving gear.

Currer participated in Small Business Saturday, a seven-year-old effort by Amercian Express to encourage people to shop at small, independent shops the day after taking advantage of Black Friday deals at major retailers.

The shop posted “Small Business Saturday” banners and signs outside the shop on Mill Street to draw attention to the store. It was one of many small retailers in the region that participated in the event.

“This was our third time participating in Small Business Saturday. It’s a no-brainer,” said Melissa Harris, owner of Totally Vintage Design in Manassas.

Harris’ shop on Saturday was busier than it had been in weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, she said. Decorative signs were the hot item flying off the shelves in her store that specializes holiday decor, wine accessories, and women’s clothing.

Harris doubled her sales when compared to the last Small Business Saturday. She credits, in part, the national advertising campaign levied by American Express to promote the unique shopping day.

LaVerne Carson, of The Golden Goose in Occoquan, hasn’t yet tallied up the sales numbers for this year’s Saturday sales event.

“We had a very good Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,” said Carson. “There’s no way of knowing if Small Business Saturday helped us, but it’s always lovely for someone to promote small business.”

Tour historic Rippon Lodge this holiday season for ‘Christmas Through the Ages’

What had started as a fast-paced struggle across the Low Countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and finally into France itself, the First World War was already five months old by December of 1914.

In September, the French and British Armies had stopped the German drive short of Paris, at the Marne River. Warfare slowed down as soldiers dug trenches; the ‘front’ facing enemy positions were only the very tip of a system that stretched miles deep.

Infantrymen, in contact with the enemy, did not expect much of a Christmas celebration that year under such desperate conditions. Units rotated periodically, with a day of rest in less exposed trenches to the rear, where they would not be under direct fire. This brief relaxation would be the most men would expect for the holiday.

Ignored by officials on both sides, Pope Benedict XV attempted to arrange a truce between the warring powers for Christmas.

What actually happened came from men in the field, without any apparent organization. It started after men settled into the trenches in November… it began with arrangements (ceasefires) while recovering the dead from No-Man’s Land. Burial parties, from opposing sides, then exchanged information and food with each other.

In many places, the lines were close enough that the soldiers could shout across at each other, whether to taunt or simply chat. Conversing was especially clear among the German and British armies, because many men had visited or lived in both nations, and could communicate with each other in English.

On Christmas Eve, British soldiers reported that German soldiers started singing songs and playing music. Soon, the British responded with their own tunes and songs. The shouts between men took on a festive tone, exchanging seasonal greetings. Who first raised their head above the trenches goes unrecorded, but officers and infantrymen from both sides, began to emerge. And no one fired. Artillery fell silent in some sectors.

Orders, of course, strictly prohibited any of this fraternization, holiday or not. Many company officers and Generals were afraid that it would prevent men from continuing the fight afterward. There seemed to exist among the soldiers in the trenches, a sort of understanding, born from their shared condition, regardless of general orders.

This did not extend to all soldiers, of course. Captain Billy Congreve of the Rifle Brigade wrote in his diary, “We have issued strict orders to the men not to on any account allow a truce, as we have heard rumours that they will probably try to. The Germans did. They came over towards us singing. So we opened rapid fire on them, which is the only truce they deserve.”

On the other side of the issue, Captain Bruce Bairnsfather of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment observed among his men that, “There was not an atom of hate on either side that day; and yet, on our side, not for a moment was the will to war and the will to beat them relaxed. It was just like the interval between the rounds in a friendly boxing match.” While there was suspicion, mistrust, and prejudice on both sides, it was pushed aside for that peaceful meeting.

The high command’s fears came to fruition in some of the battlefields the day after Christmas. Private Frank Richards of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, wrote in his memoirs, “During the whole of Boxing Day (December 26th) we never fired a shot, and they the same, each side seemed to be waiting for the other to set the ball a-rolling.”

In the end, as units rotated back to different positions, and simply as time passed, the informal truces ended. These ‘truces’ became a distant memory, as the first year of a brutal struggle would go on another four years, with 29 million soldiers killed or wounded, over 57% of those serving. There would never be another Christmas quite like the one in 1914.

This December at Rippon Lodge in Woodbridge, Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division will be presenting Christmas Through the Ages. This special holiday-only program starts off with a tree lighting on the lawn December 2 and continues every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through December 23. The first tour of the day begins at 11:00 am and the last at 3:00 pm.

Each walk through the Lodge with one of the guides takes a visitor through some American holiday-time traditions; from the 1700s celebration of the time between Christmas and Epiphany, known as Twelfth Night, through the Victorian age, 1920s, and 1930s, learn how we came to celebrate Christmas as it is today.

Another special occasion will be a visit from Santa Claus on December 9th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Parents will be given a ‘Things Santa Should Know’ card before their child meets that right jolly old elf in his temporary residence in Rippon Lodge’s cabin.

Traffic
PRTC Executive Director Bob Schneider talks transportation on Davis Ford Road

In a follow-up post to our Davis Ford and Yates Ford roads Traffic Think Tank, here’s a video we showed during the event on Oct. 19, 2017.

We asked PRTC Executive Director Bob Schneider about traffic conditions on the two-lane roads and challenges managing mass transit in low population density areas. 

Video transcript: 

For PRTC and OmniRide, our biggest challenge is in the mid-county area and its lack of density.

So we don’t have dedicated transit services in that corridor and instead really rely on road network to get commuters, residents to the park and ride lots.

Some of our top areas are Horner Road. So many of those residents in that community travel to Horner Road to pick up our services, use slugging, or many other means of transportation such as vanpool or carpool.

In terms of safety and transit utilization, there are some big challenges.

First and foremost it’s a beautiful area, therefore, its low density. All that low density makes it really difficult to effectively manage transportation, mass transit issues, and with those being the roads that very little infrastructure in terms of sidewalks, which of course and any pedestrian would want, simultaneously there are not a lot of crosswalks, or very many, if any intersections with traffic signals.

So it makes it very difficult for us in order to manage turns, have that infrastructure that brings pedestrians to the forefront.

One of the best solutions that we’re looking at is two things, one of which is looking at the Horner Road expansion of the parking and ride lot. Is there a chance to improve or increase capacity at the park and ride lot which is a challenge, but all that do is draw more commuters through that corridor or possibly increase congestion.

One of the alternatives would be to look at, is there some way to take advantage of the park and ride lots closer to the interior of the county that are more conducive to travel that we could serve more effectively.

If you think about it, one large commuter bus traveling through an intersection in moves 60 cars at once. That’s the equivalent of what happens when those vehicles move through. Simeltenousuly, that’s the equivalent of 15 cars, four lanes wide four lanes wide on I-95.

That one transit bus removes all those cars, and because we have the occupation of the HOT lanes, we’re able to move residents in and out of D.C. much quicker.

Those are some of the key issues we face along the Yates Ford and Davis Ford corridor.

Page 2 of 34912345...102030...Last »