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

Prince William

Let’s transform VRE from a commuter rail system into a run-trains-throughout-the-day transit system

Editors note: Potomac Local occasionally publishes opinion letters from our readers that address issues of broad community impact.

On September 7, a public meeting at the Manassas Park Community Center will highlight proposals to construct a new four-lane bypass around Manassas. 

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), City of Manassas, and Prince William County are now proposing solutions for traffic congestion on Route 28 (see http://www.route28study.com).  All the choices appear to be based on what they’ve done in the past.

“Build more roads” has been the solution to Northern Virginia traffic congestion since the Shirley Highway (now Interstate-95) was built to the Occoquan River in 1949 and expanded to four lanes in 1952.

How’s that worked, so far?  Is traffic flowing smoothly.  Think traditional solutions will fix future problems too?

It is now 2017.  Is it smart to assume Northern Virginia will continue its pattern of sprawl development, based on cars, for another 65 years – so we should build even more roads?

Hmmm, let’s pretend it is 1910.  Should we assume that the horse-and-buggy business would boom for another 65 years and build more stables? (more…)

News
New business parks located on I-66, ideal for distribution companies

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — New building construction for two industrial parks along Balls Ford Groveton roads in Prince William County will offer economic growth opportunities for the County.

The two parks, Premier Business Park and Merritt I-66 Business Park, are both zoned for industrial use and are being marketed to industrial and distribution companies as part of the county’s economic development strategy.

“Their proximity to Interstate 66 and the Prince William Parkway provide excellent transportation infrastructure required by industrial and distribution uses. In addition, their large size and zoning provide the spaces needed for outdoor storage required by some of the businesses. The County’s highly skilled workforce and affordability are attractive to these types of industries,” said Ginny Person, Communications, Marketing and Research Manager for Prince William County’s Department of Economic Development.

Premier Business Park will consist of three, one-story industrial buildings totaling 456,000 square feet.
The developers for the project, Chalmers Property Company, has a long history of working in Prince William County. (more…)

News
County officials urge families to create disaster plan in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Fire and rescue officials in Prince William County are watching the disastrous effects Hurricane Harvey is having in Houston.

While the storm may be nearly 1,400 miles away, officials here know hurricane season is far from over. And they urge residents to be prepared should a Harvey-like storm take aim at our region.

It could take up to three days before emergency crews reach you in the event of a disaster. Having a stored supply of water, food, medicine, and pet food is a good start to ensure survival in the case of a catastrophic emergency.

“Here locally, the department of fire and rescue and first responders are expected to be able to operate for up to 72 hours after the start of an emergency without assistance from state or federal resources,” said Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Asst. Chief Matt Smolksy. (more…)

News
MADD Northern Va. is having their annual walk to end drunk driving

Good Morning Prince William – Mark your calendars for a fun trip and service project on the National Mall- JFK Hockey field on Sunday, September 10th or Monday, September 11th to support the AARP Meal Pack Challenge! Come spend a few hours between 8am-4:30 pm to assemble food packages for frail seniors in the greater DC area. Please register at: mealpackchallenge.org. In just two hours you can help 166 seniors- wow.

· Project Mend-a-House is looking for volunteers who love to fix stuff join their great teams. Both skilled and unskilled handymen and women are needed. These great folks are also registering individuals in the new Chronic Disease Self-Management Program starting in September in both Manassas and Woodbridge. Please call (703) 792-7663 or visit their website: pmah.org to learn more.

· Youth for Tomorrow is looking for male mentors to share your time with young guys for two hours a week. Many of these kids don’t have a dad active in their lives and you can make a huge difference in the lives of a kid. Please apply on line at: youthfortomorrow.org or call Ms. Wilks at (571) 432-8312 for more info. (more…)

Traffic
Old Centreville Road bridge closer to completion

MANASSAS PARK — A two-lane bridge is back to normal.

The Old Centreville Road bridge over the Bull Run River was scheduled to reopen to traffic in both directions Saturday morning, Aug. 26.

Since February, traffic along the Mansssas Park thoroughfare has been reduced to one lane and has been controlled in both directions by temporary traffic signals. The signals were scheduled to be removed Saturday. A VDOT spokeswoman said all remaining bridge work would be completed using flaggers Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Friday: 9 a.m. to noon.

This $4 million project aims to replace a two-lane bridge on Old Centreville Road built over the Bull Run River in 1968 with a new bridge. The project should be complete this fall. (more…)

News
Occoquan is counting cars and cut-throughs

Occoquan, Virginia

OCCOQUAN — Tourists flock to the tiny town of Occoquan just off Interstate 95 for the shops, restaurants, water views of the river, and special events in the town’s new River Mill Park.

All this has made for a tough time for drivers searching for a parking space.

And, because the town is sandwiched in between two commuter thoroughfares — Route 123 and Old Bridge Road — the town is a regular cut through for afternoon drivers looking to avoid the lines.

A new parking and traffic study now underway aims to identify how to increase the amount of parking for visitors, and how to curb those cars that are just passing through. (more…)

News
Breakfast Links: Track the bus on this back-to-school Monday

Parents can track the school bus using a new app as Prince William County Public Schools students head back to class today to start the new year. [Prince William Times]

Hylton High School graduate and football standout Ahmad Brooks was released by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday. [Insidenova.com]

Residents in the troubled East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas are getting some help this week in the form of backpack donations, just in time for the start of school. [Insidenova.com]

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News
Weems-Botts House visitors center to reopen to public after 5-month renovation

Kovalcik

DUMFRIES — Karleen Kovalcik has her work cut out for her.

A lot of the history in Virginia’s oldest town of Dumfries is anecdotal. Amateurs completed some of the archaeology studies done in the old port town that once rivaled other east coast ports during the 18th century.

Kovalick is the new site manager for the Historic Dumfries, Virginia (HDV), overseer of the Weems-Botts Museum, and keeper of the town’s history. She’ll be combing through not only the materials for the HDV library, but she’ll also be checking into the oral history of the town to try to separate fact from fiction.

“You back up your facts with sources, and you check photographs,” said Kovalcik, a Fairfax County native and recent graduate of West Virginia University. “A little folklore, an old wives talk, is OK as long as you say ‘this is folklore.'” (more…)

News
Covington-Harper Elementary School dedicated, duo honored

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — The dedication of a new elementary school was a celebration of community and racial unity.

Residents, teachers, school administrators, and elected officials gathered Thursday, Aug. 24 for the ribbon cutting ceremony for Covington-Harper Elementary School.

The school is jointly named after longtime educator and Prince William County School Board member Betty Covington, and for the first black man ever to be elected in Prince William County John Harper, who also served on the county school board.

“This is the first time a white woman and black man have their name on a public school in Prince William County, in Virginia, and possibly the nation,” said Harper. “This is history you’re watching.” (more…)

News
Proposed Kline development would generate 9,000 trips per day, transform old dairy farm site

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — A plan to develop 400 homes and a new mixed-use community on an old dairy farm outside Manassas is moving forward.

The houses would sit on Kline Farm, a 100-acre tract of land in Prince William County that abutts Manassas City, where Prince William Parkway meets Wellington Road and Liberia Avenues. Homes, offices, and retail shops would replace the old grain silos that stand on the property today.

The Prince William County Planning Commission could hear the case as early as October 4. Manasass-based builder Stanley Martin Homes submitted their final proposal documents to the county’s planning office on Wednesday.

Before the homes can be built, a series of land rezonings and special use permits must be approved by the Planning Commission, and ultimately by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. (more…)

News
Dumfries man struck, killed on Route 1

STAFFORD — A Dumfries man was struck and killed on Route 1.

Stafford County authorities said 44-year-old Lamont Williams after he and his fiance returned a rental truck to a business at Boswell’s Corner, at the intersection of Route 1 and Telegraph Road in North Stafford.

At about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, Williams took some trash out of the truck and walkedacrosst the street to drop it in a dumpster. He was struck while walking back across Route 1.

The victim was taken to a Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg where he died from his injuries, according to a Stafford sheriff’s spokesman.

More from the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office:

The driver of the striking vehicle told deputies he was driving home from work when the accident occurred. He did not see the pedestrian but heard the impact and stopped immediately. He then discovered he had struck a pedestrian and called 911.

The Stafford County Accident Investigation Team is continuing the investigation of the accident. There is no indication at this time that the driver of the vehicle was impaired or speeding. The case has been referred to the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

No charges have been filed in case. An investigation continues. 


Woodbridge Job Fair set for August 29

Event to connect employers with employees

WOODBRIDGE — If you are seeking a new job or even a career change, you should look no further and attend The Greater Woodbridge Community Job Fair from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, August 29 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church Gym, 13020 Telegraph Rd., Woodbridge, Va. 22192.

This event will provide you with access to employers seeking talented candidates in varying disciplines and admission is free.

More than 25 local businesses and resource organizations have planned to participate.

“Top employers from throughout the area will be participating and are looking to hire qualified candidates,” said Ian Lovejoy, owner of Reliant Hiring Solutions, the event’s organizer.
A full list of participating businesses is available at the event’s website WoodbridgeJobFair.com.

While walk-ins are welcome, job seekers are encouraged to pre-register so their information can be shared with employers before the event. Pre-registration can also be found at WoodbridgeJobFair.com.

Employers interested in more information should call 1-800-572-9041 or email the job fair coordinator at

Traffic
$59 million Haymarket diverging diamond intersection safer, adds capacity

HAYMARKET — The orange cones are gone, and a new interchange in Haymarket is officially open.

Northern Virginia’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange, or DDI — where traffic is shifted to the opposite side of the road as vehicles pass through the intersection — carries drivers on Route 15 across Interstate 66.

The $59 million interchange took about two years to build, adds capacity to the road, reduces congestion, and improves safety by eliminating the need to make left turns in front of oncoming traffic.

“More than twice the number of cars can pass through this intersection then could pass through a traditional diamond interchange,” said VDOT District Construction Engineer Bill Cutter, who lauded the project for opening on time and budget. (more…)

1 Million Cups Relocates to CENTERFUSE in Manassas

Entrepreneurs devoted to helping start-ups and small business owners find a like-minded atmosphere, and centric location to engage

CENTERFUSE, a Coworking Space fills the gap for businesses to operate economically and efficiently and brings opportunity for the many entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and emerging ventures that need a fully equipped space to do business, network and grow.

1 Million Cups Prince William will begin meeting weekly at CENTERFUSE, in Downtown Manassas starting Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The group meetings are free and open to anyone.

The move to CENTERFUSE from the Hylton Performing Arts Center, where it has met for the past four years, will serve to support entrepreneur engagement, collaboration, and discussions around a variety of business topics and every-day challenges. The relocation shows a commitment to serve and support founders of start-up businesses and to engage them where they work.

“Small business owners are tackling new challenges every day, and finding new solutions to problems in our everyday lives,” said 1 Million Cups Prince William Volunteer Organizer Nickey Monroe. 

1 Million Cups Prince William invites a speaker who has a majority equity stake in a company to talk about their firm. In the process, the group of 25 to 30 attendees provides feedback for the business owner. There is no cost to the presenter. Free coffee is also provided each week by a local business. (more…)

News
Solar eclipse fans flock to Prince William libraries

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WOODBRIDGE — The line formed about 6 a.m. Monday.

Hundreds of people stood outside the Potomac Community Library in Woodbridge for to snag one of 600 pairs of solar glasses to view the “Great American Solar Eclipse.”

The line stretched from the parking lot, up Opitz Boulevard, nearly to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. Employees at the library distributed the glasses at 10 a.m. for a solar eclipse viewing party at 2 p.m.

“This was an exciting day,” said Prince William County Public Library spokesman Andrew Spence. “All six of our community libraries had solar eclipse activities happening.” (more…)

Traffic
Traffic study complete for proposed Kaiser South medical hub

WOODBRIDGE — If Kaiser Permanente builds a new medical campus, its patients are sure to follow.

The 335,000 square feet Kaiser South Northern Virginia Hub campus would be located on Minnieville Road, east of Caton Hill Road in Woodbridge. A new traffic analysis of the Minnieville and Caton Hill roads in the proposed development area shows about 530 trips to the center would be made during the morning hours and about 580 in the afternoon.

On a Virginia Department of Transportation-rated scale of A being the best and F the worst, the largest nearby intersection at Minneivlle and Caton Hill roads today operates at Level of Service D in the mornings, where there are a lot of cars but drivers can easily maneuver around the intersection. In the afternoons, it’s Level E where conditions are worse.

By 2020, traffic at the intersection will worsen, according to the study, with the intersection operating at Level E during the morning and afternoon peak rush hours, with some lanes operating at Level F. The study takes into account for 2% growth in traffic related to population growth in the area between now and 2020. (more…)

News
Parking brake fix complete for Prince William school buses

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — A total of 4,000 public school buses in Virginia, including those in Prince William County, has been upgraded.

The parking brake upgrade for 340 Prince William County school buses was completed on July 26. This new layer of protection adds an interlocking device which prevents the parking brakes from accidentally disengaging.

The Thomas Built Buses were not unsafe without this feature, but now have an extra layer of protection that is required by state law.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) discovered the missing feature this past spring. Immediate action was taken by Sonny Merryman Inc., a bus dealer with its Northern Virginia headquarters in Bristow, to upgrade all affected buses before the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Over the course of 10 weeks, a specialized team of a dozen field technicians traveled throughout 86 school districts, installing the interlocking device on over 2,000 public school buses.

VDOE is continuing to track the installation progress on other affected public school buses.

News
Civil War Weekend cancellation a bust for small business

MANASSAS — The annual Civil War Weekend in Downtown Manassas is canceled.

The three-day event that had been planned for Aug. 25, 26, and 27 draws hundreds to the city each August, where period re-enactors flock to the city museum lawn to show how Civil War soldiers lived. Live bands and a period dance were also planned as part of the event.

The cancellation comes after the recent white nationalist’s rally and counter protests in Charlottesville where one woman was killed, and two Virginia State Police troopers died when the helicopter they were flying to monitor the protests crashed.

“Recent events have ignited passions in this country surrounding the Civil War and the symbols representing it. The City of Manassas is saddened by these events and abhors the violence happening around the country. The city does not wish to further exacerbate the situation.” said Manassas spokeswoman Patty Prince. (more…)

Traffic
20 years in the making, Arkendale project on track to speed up train service

QUANTICO — Nine miles of new track and improvements to Quantico’s rail station is underway and are hoped to help alleviate some of the congestion on the busy Interstate 95 corridor between Stafford and Washington, D.C.

The Arkendale to Powell’s Creek ‘third track project’ on the Potomac River is a $115 million-dollar investment of federal and state funds to benefit intercity passenger rail service in the I-95 Corridor.

Part of a larger initiative, The Atlantic Gateway, the Arkendale project includes construction of a third track between Richmond and Washington. The third track segment will be used to enhance the performance schedule for intercity passenger service, high-speed passenger rail service, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter service while preserving freight operations by allowing trains to meet, pass or overtake other trains.

Project improvements also include structures such as under-grade and overhead railroad bridges, railroad crossings and signal systems.

Improvements to Quantico Station include conversion of a side platform to an island platform with a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks, enabling all three tracks to serve the passenger station. (more…)

News
Breakfast Links: A dream of a river ferry, Panda Express to open

A commuter ferry service on the Potomac River is coming to Alexandria and Washington. Might it one day come to Prince William County? [Prince William Times]

A teenager from Bristow missing since Aug. 5 now has the resources of the FBI committed to her search. [Insidenova.com]

Panda Express will open its doors on Garrisonville Road in Stafford. This will be the first such restaurant in the chain to open in the county. [Free Lance-Star]

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News
Seafood restaurant Out of the Blue opens in Gainesville

GAINESVILLE — A new seafood restaurant, Out of the Blue, has opened in Gainesville, promising customers the best blue crabs in the area.

Husband-wife duo Daniel and Ryan Pell have taken the next step in their careers by opening their own restaurant. Out of the Blue was born through the blending of the couples professional experiences.

“We’ve been both in the restaurant industry for a very long time and really just starting our own restaurant was the next natural step for us,” said owner Ryan Pell.

They say their new operation set apart from their competitors due to their access to local fish houses and seafood wholesalers along the east coast. (more…)

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