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Traffic
Driverless cars to be tested in E-ZPass Express Lanes

Automation is coming to Northern Virginia’s E-ZPass Express Lanes.

Driverless cars, or CAV’s (connected and autonomous vehicles) will soon be tested on the E-ZPass Express Lanes on Interstates 95 and 495 “during non-rush periods at times when the Lanes are closed or traffic is not heavy.”

More in a press release from Transurban, the operator of the E-ZPass Express Lanes:

Authorization to begin testing connected vehicles and vehicle automation technologies on the 495 and 95 Express Lanes was approved earlier this week by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The Commissioner of Highways agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and Transurban, the operator of the 495 and 95 Express Lanes, to study how connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) may improve safety and mobility. The program will enable the partnership to perform research, and develop and trial demonstration tests on the Express Lanes to examine real-world applications for the developing technologies. Program development is scheduled to begin later this month with on-road tests beginning as soon as summer 2018.

(more…)

Traffic
Minnieville Road Widening Project moving along

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — The intersection of Minnieville Road and westbound Spriggs Road continues to be widened to include two left-turn lanes, two throughlanes, and one right-turn lane. This is the last leg of Minnieville Road that remains two lanes in the county, connecting Prince William Parkway to Route 234.

Once completed, the volume of daily traffic supported will increase from 9,100 to an estimated 18,500 cars per day, according to Lawrence Farrell, Chief of Engineering and Construction for Prince William County Department of Transportation. This additional capacity is expected to decrease traffic congestion significantly.

Currently, storm pipe installation and relocation of utilities are progressing. A prior dump site along the route required extensive earth removal and disposal, the result of large amounts of discarded tires and blocks of concrete, making it physically impossible to remove the items without also removing soil.

The road widening to two lanes is part of the County’s Comprehensive Plan and the 2006 Road Bond Program, which was passed by the citizens of Prince William County. The current design began in 2013, with right-of-way and utility relocation taking place in 2015-16. Construction started in November 2016.  

Prior to this project, a portion of Minnieville was improved, removing a curvy section of Minnieville Road between January Court and Hunter Crest Road. The road was not widened at that time because, Farrell said, “road construction is almost exclusively based on funding. Limited funding requires phasing the road construction. (more…)

News
Plan creates Prince William Office of Tourism, dissolves CVB

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — An ongoing collaboration to sell the “Greater Prince William” region to travelers and businesses may soon be a thing of the past.

Discover Prince William and Manassas, the region’s convention and visitor’s bureau, promotes Prince William County and the city of Manassas as a place to day trip while visiting the nation’s capital, hold business meetings, and youth sports travel tournaments. The two localities work together under the “Discover” brand, which operates as a private 501(c)6 corporation funded, in part, with hotel taxes from each jurisdiction.

A new memo from Prince William County Executive Christopher Martino states the bureau should be dissolved, and its employees — all 10 of them, including executive director Ann Marie Maher — should become employees of the county government under the parks and recreation department at their current salaries.

“The CVB has done some excellent work over the past seven years, having earned their accreditation, garnered national awards for marketing, and contributing to marketing Prince William County,” states Martino in his memo. “However, as the audit points out, there are high levels of risk, which can be eliminated by merging the CVB into the county.” (more…)

News
Police arrest woman previously sought in connection with strangulation

From Prince William County police:

Strangulation | Domestic Related – On July 20, Kelly Victoria APPLEGATE, who was wanted for a domestic assault which occurred at an apartment located in the 4200 block of Misty Ridge Dr in Woodbridge on July 14, was located and arrested without incident.

Arrested on July 20:
Kelly Victoria APPLEGATE, 38, of the 4200 block of Misty Ridge Drive in Woodbridge
Charged with strangulation and domestic assault & battery
Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond (more…)

News
‘Suspect demanded money then attempted to rummage through the victim’s pockets’

A man was nearly robbed at gunpoint in Woodbridge. 

Police tell us the man wearing white in the photo is the suspect. 

From a police press release: 

Attempted Armed Robbery – On July 20 at 10:05AM, officers responded to the 14400 block of Jefferson Davis Hwy in Woodbridge (22191) to investigate an attempted robbery. The victim, an adult male, reported to police that he had just parked his vehicle in the above area when he was approached by an unknown man brandishing a firearm. During the encounter, the suspect demanded money then attempted to rummage through the victim’s pockets. The suspect eventually fled the area on foot without taking any property.  No injuries were reported. Officers searched the surrounding area for the suspect who was not located. The investigation continues.

Suspect Description:

Black male, in his 20s, 6’00”, 200lbs with a muscular build

Last seen wearing a white sleeveless hoodie, dark jeans, and white shoes

News
Twisted Cork in Bristow closed for business

BRISTOW — The neighborhood restaurant Twisted Cork Grille is closed after five months in business. 

“I loved opening my restaurant. I loved seeing the people and my regulars. It was the best thing that I’ve ever done. It was my dream,” owner Nancy Skipper told Bristow Beat, which reported the closure. “It was the best while it lasted.”

The restaurant located off Linton Hall Road offered a mix comfort food, and full bar 33 different kind of wine. 

Potomac Local spoke with Skipper at a ribbon cutting for the restaurant in February. At the time, she was excited about replacing an old farm-to-table restaurant that had been located in the same space that closed prior to opening Twisted Cork, as well as the potential of becoming a neighborhood gathering place for those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods.

News
Foy wins HD 2 recount in Prince William, Stafford

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Jennifer Carroll Foy is the winner in a recount in the 2nd House of Delegates District. 

The Democrat will move onto the General Election where she’ll face Republican Laquan Austion for the seat. 

The district encompasses eastern Prince William County and a portion of northern Stafford County. 

From a press release: 

Jennifer Carroll Foy captured the Democratic nomination today for House of Delegates District 2 (HD-2) by 14 votes, after election officials recounted every ballot cast in the June 13 Democratic primary. 
 
“I am humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to serve the residents of the Second District, and want to thank Josh King for running a terrific campaign. We won the primary election by running an inclusive, people-centered campaign that engaged thousands of voters in face-to-face conversations,” said Jennifer Carroll Foy, Democratic Nominee for House of Delegates District 2. “I am excited to continue earning the votes of Stafford and Prince William County residents by sharing our vision of a Virginia that works for all of usPeople in the Second District deserve top-quality public education with fairly paid teachers, access to affordable health care, and solutions to our broken transportation system. I have devoted my entire life to public service — fighting for those who need a voice as a public defender and foster mother — and hope to serve you as Delegate.”
 
District 2 is one of the top targeted red-to-blue House of Delegate districts this year. Republican Delegate L. Mark Dudenhefer (HD-2) announced he was not going to run for re-election and Hillary Clinton won the district by 56%. Democrats came within 125 votes of defeating Del. Dudenhefer in 2015, and Democratic turnout is expected to be even higher this year with the gubernatorial race and record turnout in the Democratic primary this June. (more…)

News
Dumfries immigrant faces deportation

DUMFRIES — A Dumfries man now faces deportation from the U.S. after a visit to a federal immigration and customs office. 

From a press release: 

Fifty-seven-year old Juan Gutierrez Palomino will be deported to Peru after being detained during a routine ICE check-in in June. Juan is currently being held at the Farmville detention center.

A cherished member of his family, Juan has no criminal history. His wife and children are all U.S. citizens. His a 21-year old son is now serving in the Air Force and 13-year old daughter is an excellent student attending middle school. 

Juan was doing exactly as ordered when he reported to his ICE check-in. Now, he’s being treated as a criminal and will be forced to leave his family behind. Community members are preparing a fast and a vigil in Dumfries, where he lived with his family, on Saturday. Congregations throughout the state will be recognizing Pastor Juan and his family in their worship services to raise awareness.

We’re told, Gutierrez Palomino has lived in the U.S. for 21 years, and has not been a U.S. citizen during that time. Since 2011, Gutierrez Palomino has sought an “adjustment of status” from the Federal Government that would have permitted him temporary status to live with his wife, who has citizenship.

The fact that Gutierrez Palomino’s wife is a U.S. citizen does not mean he would have been granted automatic citizenship, according to a spokeswoman from the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, which sent us the press release.

At the June 18 visit to the ICE office in Northern Virginia, Gutierrez Palomino was detained and taken to Farmville.

We’ve asked Central Virginia Sanctuary Network for more information about where and when the vigil will be held. We’ll post that information when/if we receive it. 

Traffic
More closures at Haymarket DDI

From VDOT: 

Northern Virginia’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at Interstate 66 and Route 15 will be one step closer to completion once the new traffic signal mast arms are installed at Route 15 and Route 55, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Lane closures at the intersection, as well as intermittent full closures up to 15 minutes each will occur to facilitate the work.

Lane closures will occur between 9 p.m. Thursday, July 20 and 5 a.m. Friday, July 21. Total stoppages lasting no more than 15 minutes each will occur between midnight and 5 a.m. Prince William County Police will be on site to direct traffic.

Also, paving around the intersection is scheduled to occur the nights of Thursday, July 20 through Tuesday, July 2

News
Heat Wave: July 20 through July 23, 2017

Our region is in for some sweltering for the end of the work week and weekend. Bookmark this post for the latest updates to help you beat the heat.

Today, Thursday, July 20, 2017, a heat advisory is in effect with temperatures climbing to the century mark.

From the National Weather Service: 

…HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 7 PM EDT THIS EVENING…

The National Weather Service in Baltimore MD/Washington has issued a Heat Advisory, which is in effect from noon today to 7 PM EDT this evening.

* HEAT INDEX VALUES…Up to around 105 degrees.

* IMPACTS…The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during outdoor exertion or extended exposure.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A Heat Advisory means that a period of high temperatures is expected. The combination of high temperatures and high humidity will create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks
in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency – call 911.

 

Update 3:30 p.m.

 

Update 4 p.m.

There’s a Code Orange air quality alert for the region tomorrow.

From EPA’s AIRNow Program:

USG conditions likely once again for Friday. With strong high pressure persisting over the region for the last several days, a fairly dirty residual layer has built up. Meanwhile, a very weak front will slowly try to make its way south through the region. Despite the threat of afternoon clouds, the dirty residual layer along with continued warmth and enough breaks of sun will provide sufficient support for USG conditions along and east of I-95. A bit more in the way of cloud coverage is expected Saturday and Sunday as the frontal system is expected to stall across the region. This along with lowered weekend emissions will help keep ozone levels in check despite continued warmth.

Updated 8 a.m. Friday, July 21, 2017

Another heat advisory in effect today.

News
Dominion wanted railroad route for Haymarket power line, warned county not to accept land grant

HAYMARKET — Residents who will be impacted by the construction of new overhead power line are calling out Dominion Energy, saying the company will run the line through a historically black neighborhood once occupied by freed slaves.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission in June approved the Carver Road route for a 230kV power line that will run from the intersection of Interstate 66 and Prince William Parkway to a new substation just outside Haymarket on Route 15. There are about 75 properites and homes in the area first owned by African Americans following the end of slavery.

The new line will be used to support the power needs for a series of three new data centers that will be owned by Amazon, Inc. Construction of the first of three centers, next to the power substation, is nearly complete.

“A few weeks ago, Dominion Power changed its name, but it didn’t change its ways. It’s still a corporate bully,” said Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman, At-large Corey Stewart.

Stewart led a press conference outside the county government center on Tuesday. Residents of the Carver Road neighborhood told reporters that the power line would run through their historic properties.

“Taking homes from people who have lived there for 150 years is immoral,” said EJ Scott, of the Prince William Chapter of the NAACP.

The Carver Road route was one of the multiple route options Dominion submitted to the State Corporation Commission for consideration. Other options included a hybrid line that would have seen half of the new power line be built overhead while and a second portion of the line buried.

Another route would have taken the new power line along an existing railroad line that runs through Haymarket. (more…)

News
Balcony fire a result of improperly disposed smoking materials

From County of Prince William Department of Fire and Rescue:

On Tuesday, July 18 at 11:51 p.m., fire and rescue units were dispatched to an apartment fire located in the 11200 block of Lady Jane Loop in Manassas. Upon arrival, firefighters observed fire on the rear balcony of an apartment within the multi-family complex. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire with no extension.

No injuries reported. (more…)

News
Heat wave expected to hit area this weekend

The temperature is expected to climb into the upper 90s Thursday through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Friday and Saturday are expected to be the hottest days, with heat indices around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

The National Weather Service also issued an Air Quality Alert for today:

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in association
with Maryland Department of the Environment, Virginia Department
of Environmental Quality, and District Department of Environment
has issued a Code ORANGE Air Quality Alert Wednesday for
the DC metro area.

A Code Orange Air Quality Alert means that air pollution
concentrations within the region may become unhealthy for
sensitive groups. Sensitive groups include children, people
suffering from asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases and
the elderly. The effects of air pollution can be minimized by
avoiding strenuous activity or exercise outdoors.

 

News
Police arrest strong arm robbery suspect previously at large

From Prince William County police:

Strong Arm Robbery – On July 18, Akmed MANSARAY, who was wanted for a robbery which occurred in the 1400 block of Bayside Ave in Woodbridge on July 16, was located and arrested without incident.
Arrested on July 18:
Akmed MANSARAY, 34, of 6428 Edsall Rd Apt T2 in Alexandria
Charged with robbery
Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond (more…)

News
Verbal altercation results in two counts of malicious wounding

From Prince William County police:

Malicious Wounding – On July 18 at 12:38 a.m., officers responded to the 13800 block of Jefferson Davis Highway in Woodbridge to investigate a fight. The victim, a 29-year-old man of Fayetteville NC, reported to police that he and the accused were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated physically.

During the encounter, the accused struck the victim multiple times in the face. A second victim, a 59-year-old man of Fayetteville NC, attempted to separate the two parties. At that point, the accused pulled out a knife and began swinging the weapon towards the second victim. (more…)

News
Sheetz Mapledale Plaza wins approval

DALE CITY — Sheetz will be the gas station and 24-hour convenience store in Mapledale Plaza.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the nearly 6,000 square foot convenience store that will sit on two and a half acres of land at the corner of Dale Boulevard and Queensdale Drive in Dale City.

The gas station and store will operate 24-hours a day and have eight fuel pumps, allowing for up to 16 vehicles to refuel at once.

Some residents who spoke at a public hearing prior to the board vote said the new gas station would bring more traffic to the neighborhood, as well as provide a place for people to loiter.

Sheetz will replace an old Mobile gas station that used to sit on the same corner but closed about 10 years ago, said Jay Du Von, a spokesman for the company developing the gas station. Since then, the old mobile has been boarded up, what Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart a blight on the neighborhood. (more…)

Traffic
Should there be a speed zone in front of Colgan High School?

A study of school speed zones will be conducted ahead of a public hearing on an effort to slow traffic in front of the new Colgan High School.

Prince William County schools officials want to erect flashing signs near the school on both the north and southbound sides of the highway. When flashing, the signs would require drivers to slow from 55 mph to 35 mph on school days between 7 and 8 a.m. and 1:40 to 2:40 p.m.

Nohe called for to the review to see if the signs are warranted and asked the county’s transportation department director for a list of other comparable high schools on heavily traveled roads with school speed zones in place.

“If we’re going to set a precedent here, we need to know if there are going to be ramifications,” said Nohe.

Potomac Senior High School off Route 1 in Woodbridge and Battlefield High School off Route 15 near Haymarket do not have flashing school signs on those major thoroughfares. Both schools are located on side streets Panther Pride Drive and Graduation Drive, respectively.

Colgan High School sits on busy Route 234, a vital link between Interstates 95 and 66 in Prince William County. The road carries 33,000 cars a day, and 3,000 cars per day on weekdays while school is in session.

The date and time for the public hearing have not been set.

News
Storms could produce localized flooding

There’s an increased risk for thunderstorms this afternoon, and some could cause minor flooding. 

From the National Weather Service: 

Locally heavy rain with isolated incidents of flash flooding is possible this afternoon and evening. A severe thunderstorm with damaging wind gusts and large hail is also possible this afternoon and evening.

News
County will acquire Potomac trail right of way through wildlife refuges

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WOODBRIDGE — Prince William County officials today will sign off on a 50-year right of way plan to build new segments of the Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail.

The new trail sections will run through the Occoquan Bay and Featherstone national wildlife refuges in Woodbridge, adding to some 13 miles of the trial already constructed in the county.

When completed, up to 45 miles of the trail along the Potomac River between the Chesapeake Bay and Pennsylvania will traverse the county.

The trail winds into Prince William from Fairfax County on a footbridge in Occoquan. In Woodbridge, the trail traverses urban terrain in the northern section and crosses Route 1 into Belmont Bay. Further south at Featherstone, the trail will incorporate the entrance Rippon Virginia Railway Express station.

“The Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail is not just your traditional scenic trail. We’re also incorporating everyday human uses, like transportation,” said Ryan Delaney, a trails planner with the Prince William County Government.

The trail will also be a new way to see the Potomac River, along with the national wildlife refuges, long hidden from view from view along busy Route 1 and Interstate 95. (more…)

News
Price for senior pass to National Parks to increase

Since 1994 the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass has been $10, but as a result of legislation passed in December of 2016, that price will increase to $80. The price hike is expected to take effect August 28 2017, so seniors are encouraged to act soon if they wish to purchase a senior pass. 

 

From Prince William Forest Park:

Seniors over age 62 may want to purchase a lifetime pass soon. The price goes up on August 28th, 2017. To qualify, you must be an American citizen or permanent resident of the United States and pay the $10 fee. This pass is a lifetime pass to National Parks and other federal recreation lands. When the supply at the Visitor Center is out, it’s out. (more…)

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