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

Prince William

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.


Karen was tired of restructuring family fun around her pain. So she did something about it.

Dr. Daniel Hampton at Sentara OrthoJoint Center® at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center reserves surgery as a last resort for patients with chronic knee pain.

When Karen Cribb, the Patient Advocate at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, became Dr. Hampton’s patient, he told her that eventually, she would need to have knee replacement surgery. After weighing the benefits and risks of surgery, they decided to try alternative therapies such as anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and injections first to see if they could manage her osteoarthritis, pain, and limited mobility issues without surgery.

Injections of corticosteroids provided temporary relief for Karen. However, when the medication wore off, the pain grew unbearable. They then tried a series of four shots designed to build cushioning around the knee, but that did not prove effective for her either.

“Those treatments work for different people to varying degrees,” said Dr. Hampton. “When it’s time for surgery, your body will tell you.”
Karen grew up playing sports like basketball and softball during a time when there were no professional coaches ensuring the safety of younger athletes. As she got older, her knees began to bother her.

“I truly didn’t pay attention to the pain, until I couldn’t participate in family activities the way I used to,” said Karen.

She finally realized her mobility restrictions as she listened to her husband and daughters plan a big family vacation to New England for her upcoming birthday. Well-intentioned, her husband and daughters repeatedly said, “Mom can’t do that, so we won’t do it.”

Karen acknowledged they were restructuring the fun activities around her pain. During her vacation, she was disappointed when she could not get to the top of a lighthouse in Maine or climb the steps at Bunker Hill in Boston. Karen wanted to be active and pain-free, so she could enjoy time with her family, and she resolved to do something about it.

Karen knew the time had come for surgery when she began to fall and make trips to the emergency room that caused her to miss family activities. The rest of Karen’s body was now compensating for her injured knee, and she eventually threw out her back. Her daughter was getting married soon, and she did not want her knee problems to interfere with the wedding. It was time to consider knee replacement surgery.

“Throwing out my back because of my knee pain was an eye opener,” Karen said. “That was the decision–making moment for me.”
Karen and Dr. Hampton set her surgery date for April.

“There is a very high success rate with knee replacement surgery,” Dr. Hampton said. “About 95 percent of patients do well with replacements.”

Patients who opt for knee replacement have an intense recovery period with several months of extensive physical therapy. “Additionally,” Dr. Hampton said, “there is a six-month check-up and another follow-up appointment at one year with periodic x-rays. Patients are then, typically seen annually.”

Surgery requires a close partnership between the patient, surgeon, and rehabilitation therapists. The patient must be motivated to adhere to the therapy regimen and stay active, even when there are some stiffness and pain. Walking, hiking, swimming, and other low impact exercises are excellent ways to stay active for those recovering from knee replacement surgery, and they carry the added benefit of potential weight loss, which further reduces pressure and strain on the knee.

The surgery itself was not painful for Karen. Her family was incredibly supportive, encouraging her to stay active, helping her recuperate, and driving her to her medical appointments during her recovery. When Karen returned to work, the staff at Sentara was also very supportive.

“This is what we do, for our patients and each other,” said Karen. She and her coworkers even shared a good laugh about her bedazzled cane she used during her recovery. “Go gaudy or go home,” Karen joked.

Karen completed her physical therapy four months after her surgery. Overall, she describes the surgical experience as positive. She’s grateful for her improved quality of life.

“I really appreciate Dr. Hampton and the therapists saying that I can’t hurt the knee, but I will hurt myself if I don’t stay active,” Karen said. “It feels great to feel good.”

To find an orthopedic specialist near you call 1-800-SENTARA or visit: Sentara OrthoJoint Center® at https://www.sentara.com/woodbridge-virginia/medicalservices/services/joint-replacement.aspx.

 

Traffic
Millions from I-66 E-ZPass lanes will go to benefit VRE Manassas line riders

MANASSAS — Millions of dollars of improvements are coming to the Manassas line of Virginia Railway Express.

And it’s all thanks to the Interstate 66 E-ZPass Express Lanes project.

With Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s acceptance of $579 million from Express Mobility Partners — the operators of the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes — Virginia’s commuter railroad will use $128 million of it to fund expansion projects at some of the system’s busiest stations.

Broad Run station 

This end-of-the-line station at Manassas Regional Airport catches commuters from as far away as Front Royal who chose to park and ride a train into Washington, D.C. versus using Metro or driving all the way into work.

Parking at this station is a bear, with drivers being forced to park along streets leading into and out of the station parking lot. Because this station is so over-utilized, leaders nixed a plan for a VRE extension to Gainesville or Haymarket.

As part of the Broad Run station expansion, two new storage tracks will be added to the storage yard, as the commuter railroad needs more places to park its growing number of rail cars and apparatus.

The new tracks will displace existing parking spaces at the station, which are already a commodity. Plans presented by VRE over the summer showed the parking lot expansion would bring 975 new and replacement spaces, increasing the total number of parking spaces at Broad Run to 1,975.

New rail cars

The additional storage space at Broad Run will mean that there will be room to park some nine new rail cars to be purchased.

The new cars will mean VRE will be able to run longer, eight-car trains on the Manassas line to keep up with demand.

Expanded platforms at Manassas station

Some of the funds will also go to lengthening the platforms at the Downtown Manassas station.

The longer platforms will mean the longer eight-car trains will be able to adequately serve riders who board at the Manassas Train Station.

Manassas Park garage

The new money will also mean Downtown Manassas will no longer be the only station on VRE’s Manassas line west of Fairfax County with a parking deck.

A total of $26 million will be used to fund a new parking garage at the Manassas Park station. A $2.5 million study by VRE earlier this year showed the Manassas Park station, with its 600 parking spaces, 700 more are needed to meet the anticipated growth.

Real-time parking information

There isn’t a VRE station within a two-mile drive of Interstate 66. So the railroad wants drivers on the highway to know their options when it comes to parking at one of the stations.

VRE will also invest $5 million in a real-time information service that will show how many parking spaces are available at stations along the Manassas line. The data will be displayed on electronic signs along the I-66 corridor.

“This way, if someone sees that there are 45 spaces left at Broad Run, they may decide to not sit in traffic and instead take the train,” said VRE spokesman Joe Swartz.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to award the funds in January, about two weeks after the start of construction on E-ZPass Express Lanes outside the Capital Beltway, from Gainesville to Dunn Loring in Fairfax County.

It’s also a win for Manassas and Prince William County.

“This exactly what our citizens are looking for when it comes to regional transportation growth,” said Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish. “We’re increasing our density around our VRE stations, and we’re going with more vertical development in our city’s downtown.”

Parrish says increased capacity on VRE will also relieve stress on Metro, Washington, D.C.’s beleaguered subway system. On Monday, Metro closed a portion of its Red Line for a two-week repair, one of the longest of the three-year “SafeTrack” rebuilding program.

Expanding Route 28 in Prince William County and Manassas to match a widening project on Route 28 in Fairfax County is also needed to get traffic moving within the region, added Parrish.

News
“Santa Cops” on duty to take children toy shopping this holiday season

From the Fraternal Order of Police Battlefield Lodge #43:

Potomac Mills Wal-Mart will be the safest place in town on December 2nd at 7:15 a.m. as the Fraternal Order of Police, Battlefield Lodge 43 kick off their annual charity event “Santa Cops” 2017. Uniformed law enforcement officers unite from Prince William County Police,
Prince William Adult Detention Center, Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police and GMU Police to take 50+ selected “at risk” children, ranging in ages 5-10, Christmas shopping in hopes of making their Christmas special.The children are then escorted in cruisers in a convoy of lights and sirens over to breakfast graciously donated by Ornery’s.

On December 9th, the safest place to be will be at the Super Wal~Mart at 7:15 a.m. in Manassas as the “Santa Cops” 2017 charity event makes it’s way to the West end of Prince William County teaming up with uniformed officers from Prince William County Police, Prince William Adult Detention Center, Prince William County Sheriff’s Office, Manassas City Police, Manassas Park Police, Haymarket Police, GMU Police and Virginia State Police to take an additional 50+ selected “at risk” children, ranging in ages 5-10, Christmas shopping.

(more…)

News
Manassas Battlefield Trust will host a special holiday event, “Christmas 1862”

From Manassas Battlefield Trust:

“Christmas 1862” will be held at the Historic Stone House

Christmas 1862 was bittersweet.  The holiday season was certainly a welcome distraction from the ongoing war, yet endless families had an empty chair at the table that year.  For the communities around Manassas Junction, that December was still a time of rebuilding from the second major battle in thirteen months.

The Manassas Battlefield Trust is pleased to present, with Manassas National Battlefield Park, “Christmas 1862” at the historic Stone House.  Join us to celebrate Victorian Christmas traditions with caroling, crafts, cider, cookies, and more, as well as remember the soldiers who were away from home for Christmas 1862, and those who would never return. (more…)


How FreshySites updated this 3-year-old website that didn’t share the sleek look of this modern national security school

At FreshySites, we’re dedicated to taking our clients’ online presence to the next level through the creation of beautiful, clean and user-friendly websites.

This mission extends from regional to national clients.

Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security (DMGS) came to us to build their new website because they were dissatisfied with the antiquated style and functionality of their site at the time.

This three-year-old website didn’t have the sleek or modern look they felt represented their organization, dedicated to training our country’s future national security professionals in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Among what DMGS wanted was a more unique and advanced functionality to complement a newly polished design, but still able to offer the immense amount of information about the organization’s history, curriculums, daily goings-on, etc.

Building this website required our team to be extremely creative and meticulous in incorporating all the content – over forty pages worth – their site contains in an aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly format.

After countless check-ins to ensure the website’s flawless functionality – that the dozens of redirect links worked correctly, all the content was organized and revised, etc. – as well as extensive coordination to ensure a smooth launch process on a specific date at a specific time, the DMGS site went live.

What resulted from FreshySites’ determination to take this regional project, with national implications, to the next level was a robust and comprehensive website that conveys the credibility, legitimacy, and importance of what the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security prepares their students for on a daily basis.

See for yourself! Explore the dozens of pages, all stemming from a simple menu, filled with information on the different programs DMGS offers, admission qualifications, downloadable applications, news, events and more.

FreshySites – a regionally focused company with national reach and operations.

About FresySites: 

FreshySites is a fast-growing website design firm dedicated to creating beautiful websites, while consistently delivering best-in-industry customer service and support. Founded in 2011, FreshySites has quickly expanded into the largest in-house WordPress web design shop on the East Coast.

Our Washington D.C. office was founded in 2012 by Vincent Consumano. With additional offices, we have the team, resources and tools to serve our local – and national – clients through website mockups, creative briefs, revision rounds, and Search Engine Optimization audits. FreshySites is determined to take our regional clients’ online presence to the next level, ultimately helping them to grow and thrive.

Explore our website to learn more about us, see our portfolio of work and become a part of our client family today!

News
Third-annual WinterFest will see events at Occoquan, Tacketts Mill

Occoquan is getting ready to celebrate the holidays. 

From a press release: 

The Town of Occoquan will participate in the third annual WinterFest event on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 4 to 7 pm in Historic Occoquan.  Visitors will enjoy fire pits with marshmallow roasting, strolling holiday carolers and musicians, children’s craft activity at the Mill House Museum, OWL Volunteer Fire Department touch-a-truck, free hot chocolate (while supplies last), and a special visit from Santa Claus!  In addition, many of the town’s unique restaurants, shops, and boutiques will be open late for you to complete your holiday shopping.  

WinterFest is a daylong family-friendly celebration of the winter season that highlights multiple destinations with entertainment, food, and activities for all ages in the Lorton-Occoquan-Lake Ridge region. WinterFest begins on December 9, with Santa’s Lake Ridge Parade on Harbor Drive in Lake Ridge at 11:00 a.m., followed by a holiday arts market at Tackett’s Mill until 3 p.m., Occoquan’s holiday activities from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the Workhouse Arts Center’s Second Saturday Art Walk from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  The day’s events will conclude with a spectacular firework display between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., courtesy of Prince William Marina, with viewing areas in the Town of Occoquan, Occoquan Regional Park, and Hoffmaster’s Marina.

Other Upcoming Holiday Events in Occoquan

Santa Arrives by Boat, December 2, 2017. Santa arrives by boat at 12 p.m. at Mamie Davis Park dock, 205 Mill Street, in Occoquan.  He will then proceed to the Occoquan Town Hall, 314 Mill Street, to talk with all the children. Open to the public, free.

Town Blessing, December 3, 2017. The annual Town Blessing will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a short service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 209 Washington Street, followed by a blessing at Mamie Davis Park, 205 Mill Street. Open to the public; free.

For more information, visit www.occoquanva.gov or contact Julie Little, Events and Community Development Director, at (703) 491-2168 or jlittle@occoquanva.gov.

Traffic
Prince William plans diverging diamond interchange at Balls Ford Road


First on Potomac Local 

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Drivers on Prince William Parkway at Balls Ford Road could see a diverging diamond.

The type of crossing that’s popping up all over the state called a Diverging Diamond Interchange, is proposed to replace a four-way intersection now controlled a signal light, near Interstate 66.

The interchange would be built just south of the current intersection of Prince William Parkway (Route 234 bypass) and Balls Ford Road. The price tag to build the new junction, and widen Balls Ford Road from two to four lanes between the parkway and Groveton Road, sits at about $145 million.

Prince William County officials applied, and the Nothern Virginia Transportation Authority this month approved $235 million for the project. The project now heads to Richmond for approval by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The DDI design replaces an old cloverleaf design that was to be built in the same area.

Prince William County Transportation Director Rick Canizales said his department was able to lower the projected cost of the diverging diamond interchange, or DDI, project in the design phase and wouldn’t require the entire $235 million. The funds are part of a more than $500 million advance payment from Interstate 66 toll operators I-66 Mobility Partners paid to the state ahead of construction of the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes project. The funds will be used to fund road and rail transportation improvement projects in the region.

Prince William County already owns much of the right of way of where the new interchange will sit. While the project is still in the design phase, a portion of what will become the old Balls Ford Road east of Prince William Parkway will become a culdesac.

A right-turn-only, from the southbound side of the parkway for drivers exiting I-66, onto the old portion of Balls Ford Road could be added.

Balls Ford Road is Prince William’s industrial corridor with multiple warehousing businesses in the area to include Martin Brower, U.S. Foods, and Reinhart food services companies. Prince William Parkway (Route 234 bypass) is a popular truck route that links I-66 and I-95.

The DDI is designed similarly to one that opened this summer on I-66 in Haymarket. Two signal lights on the east and west sides of the intersection control the flow of traffic, allowing drivers on Balls Ford Road to drive on the opposite sides of the road to move through the intersection, as well as seamlessly exit the road onto Prince William Parkway.

Known for its safety features, the DDI eliminates the need for making right turns across oncoming traffic to enter and exit a roadway. The DDI in Haymarket was the first in Northern Virginia, and a second DDI is now under construction at Courthouse Road and I-95 in Stafford County.

Balls Ford Road will be realigned and widened to four lanes ahead of the opening of the new DDI. From west to east, the new, wider Balls Ford would divert from Devlin Road and intersect with Wellington Road at a stoplight, then again at Wallingford Drive.

Two new bridges to be built as part of DDI will carry Balls Ford Road traffic over the Norfolk Southern Railway and Prince William Parkway. Once across Prince William Parkway, traffic on the new Balls Ford would reconnect with the old portion of Balls Ford east of Groveton Road.

The Balls Ford Road interchange is one of 10 projects Prince William County officials submitted to the NVTA to be considered for funding from the more than $500 million I-66 Mobility Partners grant. All of the projects were in the Prince William Parkway (Route 234 bypass) corridor and included constructing new interchanges at University Boulevard and Sudley Manor Drive.

Traffic
Ground broken on I-66 toll lanes. Now for the $500 million new money for surrounding transportation improvements.

It’s official: E-ZPass Express Lanes are coming to Interstate 66.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday broke ground for the construction of new toll lanes outside the Captial Beltway from Gainesville in Prince William County to Dunn Loring in Fairfax County.

“Using taxpayer resources wisely to reduce gridlock in Northern Virginia and across the Commonwealth has been a top priority of this administration,” stated McAuliffe in a press release. “The project we are beginning today will increase the capacity of I-66 and give commuters more options for how to get to work, with zero taxpayer investment and a commitment of nearly $579 million from our private partners for even more traffic-reducing projects.

The new toll lanes will be built along 23 miles I-66, where two new lanes in each direction will be placed alongside the travel lanes.

There will be new access points to the express lanes from the travel lanes, reserved space for future transit projects, and at least 3,000 new commuter parking spaces that will accommodate expanded transit bus service in the corridor.

New bicycle lanes will be added in Fairfax County along the corridor, and the long-troubled intersection of I-66 and Route 28 will be rebuilt, removing four traffic signals along Route 28.

As part of the $3.7 billion deal between the state and I-66 Mobility Partners, a partnership between a Spanish firm called Cintra, and a French company called Meridiam, a total of $500 million will be doled out to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority ahead of the toll lanes’ opening. The NVTA, in turn, will then provide funding to projects it reviewed and selected to include a $128 million expansion of the Virginia Railway Express Broad Run station at the Manassas airport, and the construction of a $67 million interchange at Balls Ford Road and Route 234 bypass near Gainesville.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to approve these, and other projects to be funded with the money from the NVTA, on December 6.

But the new lanes and the new money for traffic improvement in the Route 234 corridor isn’t enough for Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large Corey Stewart. He says the state is resting on its laurels when it comes to investing its own money in fixing transportation.

“It only addresses part of the problem. We have major problems at Sudley Manor and Wellington Road, all along Prince William Parkway,” he said. “The state is trying to say we’ve got our share of transportation improvements, when in fact our residents are paying for this with tolls.”

Support local shops, restaurants, and services for Small business Saturday

“Small Business Saturday” was launched in 2010 by American Express to encourage shoppers across America to focus a portion of their holiday shopping on small, local businesses. The program was initially aimed at helping main street businesses survive the economic downturn and cardholders were offered various perks for shopping small. “Small Business Saturday” has since evolved into an annual event featuring tens of thousands of participating shops, restaurants and service providers throughout the country.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of Manassas and significantly contribute to this historic City’s modern beat. The revenues generated from these businesses are what helps enable the City to provide high-quality public services.

On Nov. 25, Historic Manassas Inc. will celebrate Small Business Saturday by “rolling out the blue carpet” for the local businesses. Events are planned throughout the morning to kick-off the local holiday season and discounts will be offered by many merchants. Come out on Saturday, November 25th and support the local small businesses of Historic Downtown Manassas on Shop Small Saturday!


News
Teaching the DAGPAW: Martial Arts and concepts for Life at Manassas Park Community Center

The Manassas Park Community Center offers a variety of martial arts programs for kids of all ages. Master Geoff Mann teaches all of the martial arts classes here at the Community Center. He received his first black belt in 1992 and is a fifth-degree black belt.

Master Geoff has been an instructor at the Community Center for 13 years. That gives him more history at Parks and Recreation than the actual building itself!

Master Geoff explains that the term martial arts initially means “military way of.” The history of martial arts dates back to ancient Greece, Rome, and China. The military of these countries took the fighting and defensive systems of the peasants, adapted, and then incorporated these fighting styles to suit their military needs.

Fast forward to the 1970’s where martial arts legend Bruce Lee became famous for his skills and beliefs that the best fighter is someone who is adapted to any martial arts style while incorporating individual style and not limiting themselves to one practice.

“When I started training in 1985, the MMA club where I was training introduced us to all MMA practices at the time, so we learned a real variety! Now, I teach modern Karate, traditional Tae Kwon Do and I add a little Kempo, Akido, and Jujitsu. My own background and training is inspired by Bruce Lee because we both believe in individual style while emphasizing various martial arts,” he explains.

DAGPAW

Master Geoff tells everyone, students, and parents, that he firmly believes teaching karate and other martial arts is his tool to teach discipline, courtesy, and respect.

“Parents rarely come to me and say they want their kids to defend themselves. Instead, what parents want is for their kids to stay focused and to use their energy learning skills they can use in life. I teach these kids to become better citizens using the concepts of discipline, courtesy, and respect,” he points out.

Master Geoff teaches a theory called, DAGPAW, which stands for discipline, a’s and b’s, goal setting, perseverance, attitude (a good, can-do attitude) and work ethic. To Master Geoff, these are the real benefits of Karate and other martial arts.

“With MMA, the more involved you are, the better off you are. I am also a big believer in having consequences for actions,” he says.

The martial arts uniform is a useful tool to help discipline and focus the children. Mann encourages parents to purchase the uniform to help children achieve their goals. He gives students incentives through the patches on their uniform.

Master Geoff teaches his three to seven-year-old students how to kick properly and gets them to follow those guidelines as closely as possible. He admits there is no one true art form and encourages mixing to adapt to students’ needs and preferences.

“Traditional ways are great, but they might not be practical such as the high jumping kick. This particular kick was originally used to knock people off horses and is not something I use in my classes,” explains Mann.

The MMA classes at the Community Center begins with the Dragon Tots class for students, ages three to four, to learn basic martial arts skills with special emphasis on courtesy, discipline, and respect. This class is on Wednesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 12:55 p.m.

WCRB Mixed Martial Arts are specifically for children, ages six to 13, with or without prior experience, to learn martial arts while emphasizing respect, courtesy, and discipline! This class also combines Master Geoff’s Academic Excellence program to help maximize your child’s learning. The class is on Mondays, from 5 to 5:50 p.m. or 6 to 6:50 p.m.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, wellness areas, special events, and recreational classes. For more information visit us at www.ManassasParkCommunityCenter.com or call at 703-335-8872.

News
Surovell’s short-term 3: Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, and nonpartisan redistricting

Election Day was an electoral earthquake in Virginia politics.  Fourteen seats in the House of Delegates switched from Republican to Democratic members – the largest switch since 1899.  Two have not yet been certified due to irregularities and three are heading to recounts.  We do not know if any party will control the House and probably will not know until late in the day on the first day of session after the dust has settled.

While the new situation in the House of Delegates will create some uncertainty over the next fifty days, it will create some opportunities in Virginia public policy, but not a wholesale change of direction.  The Senate of Virginia is still controlled by the Republican Party and most major committees have significant partisan majorities. 

Notwithstanding, I am hopeful that in the short-term, we might see some changes in a three areas: Medicaid Expansion, Criminal Justice Reform, and Nonpartisan Redistricting. 

Medicaid Expansion
First, Virginia has foregone billions of dollars over the last several years due to our failure to expand Medicaid.  In addition to billions of dollars, we have lots 30,000 new jobs per year and approximately $200 million per year in savings to Virginia taxpayers. 

Today, nearly 36,000 residents of the 36th District receive their healthcare from Medicaid including 24,000 children.  This means there are likely over 20,000 adults right here within minutes of your home who would receive healthcare if Virginia had taken action. 

The new margins in the House of Delegates make movement much more likely, but not without some changes in our existing program.  In 1985, Medicaid consumed six percent of Virginia’s General Fund Budget – today, that number has grown to twenty-three percent and that is before the coming tsunami of baby boomer retirement home admissions.  We need to bend the Medicaid cost curve, but I am hopeful that we are nearing the end of irrationally refusing federal help to get healthcare to hundreds of thousands of needy Virginians. 

Criminal Justice Reform
Second, Virginia’s residents and jails continue to be burdened by an overly punitive criminal justice system which over-felonizes conduct and clings on to antiquated trial practices.  Virginia’s $200 threshold between misdemeanors and felonies in the lowest in the United States of America and has not been adjusted since 1981.  I will introduce legislation to raise this to $500 and remain the lowest in the United States for the ninth time.  Similar legislation has passed the Senate and died in the House five times.  Hopefully, no longer.

Also, accused persons in Virginia have extremely limited discovery rights in criminal trials.  Legislation to bring Virginia’s criminal discovery rules up to modern standards has also passed the Senate and died in the House.  This year should be different.

Non-Partisan Redistricting
Third, the close margins in the Senate and House of Delegates may finally make it possible to move nonpartisan redistricting legislation through the General Assembly.  Computer enabled partisan redistricting lies at the root of many political problems in our country.  Non-partisan redistricting constitutional amendments have passed the State Senate twice but normally die in committee in the House.  I am hopeful that the new situation in Richmond will move the discussion forward.

I am putting together the 36th District legislative agenda over the next month.  Please send me your legislative ideas and feedback on structuring our $100 billion budget over the next two years.

It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.  Please contact me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any thoughts.

Scott Surovell (D) represents southern Fairfax, eastern Prince William, and northern Stafford counties in the Virginia State Senate. 

Traffic
Will a lack of crossings at the Bull Run River mean higher tolls on I-66?

Will a lack of points in which to cross the Bull Run River lead to congestion, and excessive tolls on the soon-to-be-built Interstate 66 E-ZPass Express Lanes? 

One Prince Willam County resident thinks so, and emailed VDOT (and us) about his concern: 

After reviewing the Transform I-66 design again, I am concerned about the lack of road network capacity over the Bull Run between Fairfax County and Prince William County.

This will lead to excessively high tolls with limited alternatives. I am mainly concerned about the I-66 Westbound Direction where traffic is currently being held back by the light at Braddock and Route 28 and the I-66 merge at the Fairfax County Parkway interchange.

Three lanes from US 29, two lanes from Braddock Road, one lane from Northborne/Walney, and two lanes from Route 28 Southbound will funnel into the five lanes of I-66 and one lane of US29 across the Bull Run. This will lead to significant backups that will limit access to the two Express lane entrances at the I-66/Route 28 interchange.

The NVTA Transaction Plan does not include any additional crossings of the Bull Run other than at Route 28 in Yorkshire. The Manassas Battlefield Bypass is not included in the NVTA Transaction plan.

Please consider applying the I-66 Corridor Improvements Payment to:

– Add a shoulder traffic lane between US29 Centreville and VA234 Business similar to the current shoulder lane configuration along I-66 between US 50 and the Capital Beltway. (Remove Rest Area)

– Add a two-lane road connection (with an adjacent bike facility) between Balls Ford Rd. in Prince William County and Bull Run Dr in Fairfax County over the Bull Run. (Interactive Map)

It should be noted the “Projected Year 2040 Peak Hour Traffic Volume Plots” shows a 2040 volume of 6,990 vehicles in 3 Lanes between US 29 Centreville and VA 234 Business which is not possible. 1,900 vehicles per lane is the maximum. This makes me question all the data projections in this project over the past six years.

Traffic
Changes ahead for OmniRide, OmniLink riders

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission has changes in store for riders on Dec. 4, 2o17 as part of its fall service change. 

From a press release: 

PRTC’s Winter Service Change will take effect on Monday, December 4. New schedule brochures will be available from operators upon request and timetables will be available online starting Monday, November 27.

The following routes will change; routes not listed below will not change.

OmniRide:

  • Dale City-Washington – One later D-100T trip will be added, starting at the PRTC Transit Center at 8:20 a.m.; AM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Dale City-Navy Yard – New routing and new stops in DC, now serving L’Enfant Plaza; first AM trip will start 30 minutes earlier; bus stop at Dale & Greenwood removed.
  • Lake Ridge-Washington OmniRide – AM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Lake Ridge-Pentagon/Crystal City – New routing in Crystal City to serve new stop at 18th Street Bus Bays; new AM stop at Eads & 13th; stops at 12th & Clark and 18th & Crystal eliminated.
  • Montclair-Washington – Will use South Route 1 OmniRide routing on 7th Street in DC; new stops at 7th & Independence.
  • South Route 1 – New stops at 7th & Independence.
  • Manassas-Washington OmniRide – PM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Manassas-Pentagon OmniRide – Last two PM trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots.
  • Gainesville-Washington OmniRide – Last two PM Manassas-Pentagon trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots; PM bus stop at 19th & H will move one block south.
  • Gainesville-Pentagon OmniRide – Last two PM Manassas-Pentagon trips will continue to the Cushing Road and Limestone commuter lots; one new AM and one new PM trip.

Metro Direct:

  • Prince William Metro Direct – Timetable changes; bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed.
  • Manassas Metro Direct – AM Timetable changes.

OmniLink: 

  • Woodbridge – Woodbridge VRE Station will be served by both A and B Loops; bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed; some timepoints will change.
  • Dale City – Bus stops at Dale & Greenwood removed; new stop at Troupe & Cordelia.
  • Route 1 – Bus stops on Route 1 at Car Wash and Dunkin’ Donuts removed.
  • Manassas OmniLink – Timetable changes to better coordinate with Cross County Connector; bus stop at Sudley & Grant removed.
  • Manassas Park – Timetable changes to better coordinate with Cross County Connector.

News
I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes to bring sweeping changes from Gainesville to Dunn Loring

BRISTOW — If all goes as planned, Interstate 66 will expand to help alleviate Northern Virginia’s crushing traffic volume and boost public transportation by the end of 2022, according to Virginia traffic officials.

Dozens of area residents turned out Thursday for a public hearing on plans for widening I-66 to include tolled express lanes outside the Capital Beltway. Three regular lanes and two express lanes will run in both directions from Haymarket in Prince William County to Dunn Loring in Fairfax County.

In addition to the 22.5 miles of new E-ZPass Express Lanes, the project includes additional and expanded park-and-ride lots, bus service and transit routes, interchange improvements and bike trails.

“We’re looking at this as a multi-modal project,” Susan Shaw, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Northern Virginia megaprojects director, told the crowd. Once the project is completed, she said, the upgraded system will be able to move 2,000 to 4,000 more people per hour than it currently can.

The overflowing parking lot at Piney Branch Elementary School off Linton Hall Road underscored the need for traffic solutions in an area that typically ranks among the worst in the nation for commuting.

The meeting was the third and final public hearing on the project’s design, and it focused specifically on the segment of the project from Gainesville to Route 29 in Centreville. About a dozen members of the public addressed concerns with the project, including the lack of bike trails in Prince William County, the cost of tolls for commuters and the aesthetics of the proposed sound walls. Public comments will continue to be accepted through Nov. 29.

The I-66 “Outside the Beltway Project” is a public-private partnership between VDOT, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and a private partner, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, which is a consortium of Cintra, Meridiam, Ferrovial Agroman US and Allan Myers VA Inc. It’s expected to bring $3.5 billion in new construction to the region.

At the meeting, officials unveiled a video overview of the project showing what the completed project would look like. Planning for the massive expansion project began in 2011. The timeline calls for construction and right-of-way acquisition to begin in late 2017. That’s followed by additional parking spaces near Gainesville to be completed by summer 2019, and four traffic signals to be removed from Route 28 by summer 2020. The entire project is scheduled to be completed and tolling to begin by December 2022.

Groundbreaking is set for today, near the 1-66 and Route 28 interchange, with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and transportation officials expected to be on hand.

Once construction is underway, it will take place as needed throughout the corridor. Shaw said there would be no lane closures during peak traffic periods.

When they’re completed, the I-66 E-ZPass Express Lanes will use the same kind of “dynamic pricing,” which changes depending on the volume of traffic, that’s currently used on the E-ZPass Express Lanes on I-495 and I-95. Roadway sensors monitor traffic volumes, and toll prices adjust to manage demand for the lanes and keep traffic flowing. When there’s more traffic, prices will be higher. When there’s less traffic, prices will be lower.

Drivers with three or more occupants would be considered high occupancy vehicles and could use the express lanes free anytime with an E-ZPass Flex.

On the stretch of the I-66 project Inside the Beltway, tolling will begin in December. All lanes of I-66, from I-495 to U.S. Route 29 in Rosslyn, will become express lanes with tolls on weekdays during expanded rush hours in the peak direction — from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. on eastbound lanes and from 3 to 7 p.m. on westbound lanes. Carpoolers with two or more passengers can travel toll-free with an E-ZPass Flex, although that requirement will change to three passengers when the express lanes open outside the Beltway. The lanes inside the Beltway will remain free with no toll or HOV requirements at all other times.

Copies of the proposed designs for the project outside the Beltway are available at Transform66.org. They also are available for viewing at various locations throughout the area, including Prince William County government offices and regional libraries.

VDOT will be accepting additional public comment about the plan through Nov. 29. Email comments to Transform66@VDOT.Virginia.gov and include “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” in the subject line.

Comments also can be mailed to VDOT Northern Virginia District, Attention: Susan Shaw, P.E., Megaprojects Director, 4975 Alliance Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030.

“We want to continue the dialogue we’ve started with the community, both the traveling public and the neighboring communities,” Shaw said.

Page 3 of 34912345...102030...Last »