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Stafford

Lane closures on I-95 in Stafford tonight

News

Two lanes of northbound and southbound Interstate 95 traffic will be closed tonight for bridge joint repair work at the Route 17 overpasses in Stafford County, just north of the Rappahannock River bridge at Exit 133/Falmouth. 

Work will begin on the northbound overpass. When work is complete, all northbound lanes will be re-opened, and crews will shift to the southbound I-95 overpass.

Lane closures will occur on the following schedule:

  • 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. – Two northbound I-95 lanes closed
  • 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.? Two southbound I-95 lanes closed

All lanes will be re-opened by 4:30 a.m.

Crews are performing bridge deck repairs on the overpasses, which have had temporary pothole repairs recently.

For real-time updates on lane closures and work zones, please visit VDOT’s 24-hour traffic information website, www.511virginia.org.

Motorists can also access 511Virginia by calling 511 from any telephone in Virginia, or downloading VDOT’s 511Virginia free mobile app.

 

Pets to adopt at Stafford County SPCA

News

BC
Rose
Willy went missing from his home.

BC

BC is an 11 month old DSH cat that is UTD on shots and neutered. He has a huge personality and gets along very well with the other cats in his room. He enjoys interacting with volunteers and is a silly, curious boy. He is by far our favorite goofball!

Rose

Rose is a 1 year old Jack Russell Terrier/Pomeranian mix that is UTD on shots, spayed, and microchipped. Rose is a bit quieter than her brothers and sisters and is usually the first one in your lap if given a chance to cuddle. If you’re looking for a cuddle bug this is your girl!

Lost dog

Willy – LOST DOG – Last seen 3/26 at 12 PM. Just a year old, blue collar, name tag, rabies tag, county tag and is micro-chipped. If you see him, PLEASE call 703-899-0604.

-Information provided by the Stafford SPCA. Contact them for more information on any of the animals shown above.

Stafford sheriff’s office lights torch for Special Olympics event

News

Last weekend, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the Special Olympics to light the torch at the opening ceremonies for their annual Special Olympics Basketball Championships in Stafford.

The championships, which take place every March, included more than 800 participants with a wide array of special needs.

The competition has been happening in Stafford for more than 15 years.

“It’s one of the six state level events that we offer…athletes usually compete locally and regionally, and then have the chance to come to this state event. It’s the culmination of their season – they’ve been practicing, playing and training for six weeks for the final event,” said Holly Claytor, Public Information Officer for the Special Olympics.

The organization used eight schools in Stafford to host the athletes in full court, half court and individual skills competitions, said Claytor.

According to Claytor, the Sheriff’s office has always been a big supporter of the event.

“The Stafford Sheriff’s office is extremely supportive, so they’re always out and involved in our opening ceremony…the Stafford sheriff’s [deputies] along with athletes bring in the flame of hope and light the cauldron,” Claytor.

Additionally, several of the sheriff’s deputies volunteer in Special Olympics programs with the individuals.

“We have great support from the local community – a lot of them come out and cheer and watch the games. The Special Olympics program is free for our participants…through sponsor support, we’re able to put on the event in addition to bringing 800 athletes in town,” said Claytor.

Claytor stated that while the championships for this event only take place once a year, the Special Olympics are looking for more special needs and community residents to take part.

“Even though this is a big state level competition, we are year round…people have a chance to be a part of our program at any point in all communities, and we have some really great opportunities that we’re focusing on, trying to get more youth and students involved,” said Claytor.

Local Representatives Show Support for Howell in Stafford

News
Speaker of the House Bill Howell (right) chats with a supporter March 22, 2015. [KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Speaker of the House Bill Howell (right) chats with a supporter March 22, 2015. [KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

There’s been a lot of publicity about Susan Stimpson, former member of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, vying for the Republican nomination against William J. “Bill” Howell (R-Stafford), Speaker of the House of Delegates and reportedly Stimpson’s former mentor. Since she announced her candidacy in December, Stimpson has been outspoken about the race, but Howell hasn’t engaged the narrative as much. However, on March 22, local political and business leaders put the attention on Howell’s message.

The Spring for Bill Howell event was held at the Hampton Inn and Conference Center that sits by exit 143 just off of Interstate 95 in North Stafford. It was organized by Stafford County Supervisor Paul Milde III as a fundraiser and a way to gather county residents to talk about why they should vote for Howell in the upcoming primary. 

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Approximately 160 people attended and nearly $15,000 was raised, according to Milde, who matched the money raised from ticket sales. Another $2,500 in food, labor, space, mailings and postage was donated in kind, he added.

 

“It would be a mistake to replace Bill Howell with Susan Stimpson,” said Milde. “She has nothing to offer of any benefit that we’re not already getting from Bill Howell. She’s no more conservative, and I would venture to say she’s a lot less effective. She has spent more time campaigning than she ever did governing.”

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

In speaking with Potomac Local, Howell pointed out that five of the seven members who served with Stimpson on the Stafford Board of Supervisors support him. Of the other two, one is a Democrat and therefore not involved in the Republican primary, and the other is Meg Bohmke, whom Howell described as Stimpson’s hand-picked successor and who will therefore stand by her, he said. 

Howell has been a delegate for nearly 28 years. If he wins the primary and reelection, he said he plans to focus on much of the same issues he’s been working on, like helping to create jobs, improving K-12 education and reforming the Virginia Retirement System. 

“I’m proud of my record,” he said.

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Stimpson lost a bid to be the Republican candidate in a 2013 primary for Virginia’s lieutenant governor.

The Republican primary is Tuesday, June 9, and anyone of any political party (or of no party affiliation at all) may vote. 

 

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

[KJ Mushung/Potomac Local News]

Stafford area public access network to open new studio space

News

On Saturday, the Central Virginia Public Access Television (CVTV) network, will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for their new studio space.

The space, which is 5,300 square feet, is located off of Route 3 in Fredericksburg, according to Charles Thomas, the CEO for CVTV.

According to Thomas, the project has been a work in progress for over six years, and they have seen huge growth in the past few years.

“We were all over the place before – then we found a couple of classrooms up at the Career and Training Solutions location – they were gracious enough to allow us to come in there and do some of our programming there,” said Thomas.

The new space will have three studios and other space for volunteers and staff to prepare television programming.

“Now we’re moving into a 5,300 square foot studio [space] and office. We’ll have three studios – one will be large enough to hold 50 people, so we’ll have an audience studio. We’ll have a news studio. And then we’ll have a multi-purpose studio, which will have a green screen and a couple of other sets set up in there. We’ll also have office space, so we can have people come down and sit – they can do any type of work they need to do to prepare for their program…we’re very excited to be moving to our new location,” Thomas commented.

In addition to the new space, they’re hoping to expand their coverage area, which currently includes Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Fredericksburg, with the hope of spreading into King George. Thomas also stated that they’re working on increasing their program lineup.

“We’ve expanded on our programming a great deal. Last season, we actually did all of the high school football games. We’ve got about 30 programs we’re seeing right now – hopefully, we’ll get that to 50 by this summer,” Thomas said.

Thomas stated that the biggest thing he has learned while running CVTV is that you have to stay consistent.

“The biggest thing I’ve probably learned is that you have to…my level of persistence had to grow. When you’re dealing with an all-volunteer organization, you have people that come and go, and it can be tough having any consistency on a long term [basis]. It’s just one of those things you have to keep painting the vision; you have to be persistent and you have to keep selling the dream,” Thomas commented.

CVTV is currently looking for volunteers to get involved, with plans to hire staff as they continue to grow.

Stafford Sheriff’s office promotes 11 officers

News
unnamed-3

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office held a promotion ceremony to acknowledge 11 officers that were promoted.

In attendance at the ceremony were Sheriff Charles Jett, Detective Sergeant Chadwick Oxley, Detective Sergeant Chris Cameron, Captain Shawn Kimmitz, Lieutenant Benjamin Worcester, Major David Decatur, 1st Sergeant Lance Barley, Sergeant Shawn Efimenco, Sergeant Michelle Gibbons, 2nd Lieutenant Lee Peters, III, 1st Sergeant Deuntay Diggs, Sergeant Dimas Pinzon, III and Sergeant Daren Volpe, Jr., according to Sheriff’s office release.

 

 

School board reverses decision on transgender student in Stafford

News
Jonathan Adams is the parent of a transgender child who sought to use the girls'  bathroom at Hartwood Elementary School in Stafford County.

Last night, the Stafford County School Board reversed an earlier decision to allow a transgender fourth-grade student to use the girls’ bathroom – even though the student is biologically a male.

The unanimous decision means that the individual, a student at Hartwood Elementary, now has to use a single-stall restroom, staff bathroom or the restroom of their biological gender.

The school board chamber was full during last night’s meeting.

Nearly two dozen people spoke on the matter — including the father of the student impacted.

School board chairwoman Nanette Kidby read the county schools’ non-discrimination policy aloud during the meeting, before opening it up for public comment.

The policy states that they will not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, sex, age, color, religion, national origin, political affiliations or disability.

“Title IX has been interpreted to require school systems to permit a transgender student to use the restroom consistent with the gender with which he or she identifies,” said Rick Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Human Resources for Stafford County Public Schools, stated in a letter.

Most of the people who spoke out against the school allowing the child to use the restroom of the biologically opposite sex wore large stickers on their clothing that said “Save Our Schools.”

The opponents mainly cited privacy issues and the safety of their children as reasons for not allowing people of the biologically opposite sex to share bathrooms, locker rooms, locker room showers or dressing rooms. Some speakers mentioned personal values as the reason for their objection.

“To have this forced upon us and have all of our values nullified is dangerous,” said Brian Bednar, continuing “We have male and female. We are all made that way.”

Manassas celebrates Founders’ Day on First Friday, April 3

Manassas, virginia, city, visit

When you say the words “Founders’ Day” it brings back images of a kinder, gentler time when people shared stories on front porches. The City of Manassas is celebrating Founders’ Day on First Friday, April 3, with restaurant specials, shops staying open late and, of course, birthday cake.

Stores and restaurants will be focusing on the history of the city and the buildings they inhabit.

This celebration is the brainchild of Councilman Ian Lovejoy. He was curious about the actual date the town was founded and in researching that date, found that the City was recognized as a town on April 2, 1873 by the General Assembly. The area was known as Tudor Hall, prior to that, until William S. Fewell, who owned the land, laid out the first six blocks and began selling lots.

The first official council meeting was held on May 17, 1873. Due to the town’s growth over the years, the town submitted a request to the General Assembly and in 1975 officially became the City of Manassas. From humble beginnings in 1873 as a half mile town concentrated along the railroad tracks, the City of Manassas grew to 10 square miles of homes, schools, shops and restaurants and more than 40,000 residents.

This Founders’ Day, come celebrate with the City of Manassas in Historic Downtown from 6 to 9 p.m. The Manassas Museum will host a City of Manassas trivia contest and a book signing. Love, Charley will offer cake, The Bone will have a beer garden and City Square Café is offering a three course dinner special and encouraging diners to dress in period attire. These are just a few of the offerings for First Friday. For more offerings and information, visit visitmanassas.org.

Three arrested, man wanted for shooting in Dumfries

News

The Prince William County Police Department have made three arrests in relation to a shooting that took place on March 21 in Dumfries, and are still searching for another suspect that is considered armed and dangerous.

Prince William police responded to a call for shots fired on Saturday afternoon and arrived on the scene at Swans Creek Lane in Dumfries.

According to initial reports in a Prince William police release, multiple callers reported that there were two vehicles involved in the incident that were driving dangerously down the road, and shooting at one another.

There were no injuries reported after the incident, but there were several homes and a vehicle hit by the gunfire, said a Prince William release.

Detectives on the scene discovered numerous shell casings on the road and were able to identify suspects involved in the shooting. In a release, Prince William police stated that Deante Gaines, a 19-year old Stafford resident, was the passenger in one of the vehicles, a gold Saab. Gaines was with Paulina Gomez, an 18-year old Woodbridge resident, who was the driver.

Gaines and Gomez were eating at a restaurant located near Route 1 and Wayside Drive.

Two occupants from the other involved vehicle, Andre Perry, a 22-year old man, and Briana Colbert, a 19-year old Woodbridge resident, entered the establishment. According to a Prince William police release, the individuals all knew each other prior to the incident.

The four individuals left the restaurant, and Perry and Colbert left in a red Kia. The police investigation showed that Andre Perry was the driver and shooter in the Kia.

While driving down Swans Creek Lane, Perry and Gaines began shooting at one another, and Gaines sustained a wound from a bullet grazing a section of his upper body, said a Prince William police release.
Prince William police have arrested Colbert and Gomez in connection to the shooting. Gaines was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force on March 23, and he is currently awaiting extradition, a Prince William Police release stated.

There are currently warrants for Perry’s arrest, but at this time he has not been apprehended, and should be considered both armed and dangerous.

VDOT conduct ‘slugging’ survey in Stafford

News

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is conducting a slugging survey to look at the HOV carpooling patterns at the expanded Staffordboro commuter lot just off Route 610 in North Stafford.

Slugs are those who hitch rides in vehicles with three or more occupants to ride free on the EZ-Pass Express Lanes with an EZ-Pass Flex transponder in the vehicles.

According to a VDOT release, they are concerned about congestion that’s been seen at the slugging pick-up line at the Staffordboro lot during weekday mornings.

In addition to an online survey VDOT is asking riders to fill out, there are plans to send VDOT staff out to the slug line to speak with commuters, according to a release.

The survey is being conducted for the next month, according to Kelly Hannon, a Communications Manager with VDOT.

“This is an unscientific, convenience sample, but we wanted to do as much as we could to ask the people using these features for their ideas,” said Hannon.

Potomac Local spoke with area commuters and found that the expanded Staffordboro and the extended EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95
from Dumfries to Route 610 has been a relief for many.

“It’s a little easier,” said Beulah Williams, Stafford. “I feel like I get about 20 minutes more at home every day.”

The majority of the construction of the lanes wrapped in December when the lanes opened to traffic. Every driver on the lanes needs an EZ-Pass to use them, and vehicles with two or fewer occupants are charged tolls to use the lanes. Keep Reading…

Pets to adopt at Stafford County SPCA

News
 
Spice
Billie Jane
Lost dog - Anya
 
Spice is a female DSH cat that is UTD on shots and spayed. She is a spunky girl that enjoys ear scratches and laser pointers! She is included in our Shamrock Special throughout March – could you be her lucky charm?
 
 
Billie Jane is a 2 year old female Heeler mix that is spayed, UTD on shots, and microchipped. She was rescued in Florida by our Director of Operations while visiting family. She pulled at our heartstrings with her well behaved demeanor and playful nature. Billie Jane can live happily with other dogs (with proper introduction) and children older than 5 years.
 
 
LOST DOG – Anya, missing since 8 PM on 3/13. She was last seen wearing a black, leather, studded collar off of RT 17 in Stafford. Please call 540-455-3126 if found.

-Information provided by the Stafford SPCA. Contact them for more information on any of the animals shown above.

Cardinal Forest has 1,000 apartments and trusts JTC with IT infrastructure

Vanessa Zambrana is the On-Site Community Manager at Cardinal Forest, located in Springfield, Virginia.

Cardinal Forest is a large condominium association and community that manages over 1,000 condo units for its owners within Fairfax County.

Zambrana has worked at Cardinal Forest for nine years and during all of those years, Cardinal Forest has “always used” Jewell Technical Consulting, Inc. (JTC, Inc.) for their services.
Recently, JTC, Inc. deployed a new server for Cardinal Forest. Zambrana was able to explain how the experience turned out for them.

“They do our monitoring of our server behind the scenes and everything and we got a notification from them that the current server we had, the software that runs the machine wasn’t going to be supported by Microsoft any longer,” said Zambrana. “So they basically told us we could use it up until the time that the support expires by Microsoft, or we could replace it, so we planned the replacement, I would say less than a year ago.”

“Our board of directors funded it through this year’s budget and then we decided, January 1, that we were going through the process to get it started.” I think Microsoft stopped supporting sometime in the summer, and we just wanted to be ahead of the game,” added Zambrana.

Cardinal Forest is professionally managed by Cardinal Management Group Inc. which also oversees residential association property management.

Cardinal Forest’s chose JTC, Inc. over other companies to an existing relationship it’s parent company had with the firm, so JTC was a natural fit.

Prior to replacing the old server, Zambrana, as well as the other staff at Cardinal Forest had to deal with slow Internet and an even slower server.

“Our old server was 10 plus years old, so everything was really slow. It would take the longest time just to open a file,” said Zambrana, “Now things are a lot faster.”

Thankfully, the process of JTC, Inc. going in and replacing the old server and transitioning to the new one, was efficient and painless to business operations.

JTC is a Microsoft Certified Partner and a Dell Authorized Partner and utilizes Microsoft and Dell technology.

Express Lane drivers confused by E-Z Pass, survey says

News

The 95 Express Lanes opened three months ago, and while the lanes have seen support in the area, there is still some confusion about using the lanes and the E-Z Pass tolling devices.

A February survey, conducted by Transurban, including 1,266 area drivers, showed that many drivers knew how to enter and exit the Express Lanes.

But the survey also showed there are some major sources of confusion relating to keeping funds on their E-Z Pass, where to mount the device, and the requirement that their license plate be linked to their E-Z Pass account.

“We are pleased that drivers are experiencing the benefits of the 95 Express Lanes, such as faster travel, less congestion and more reliable travel times. Using the Express Lanes is easy but some drivers still have questions about how the Lanes work and how to properly use E-ZPass,” said Nic Barr, Vice President of Operations for Transurban, in a release.

Those that have never driven on the 95 Express Lanes, or those that are confused about their E-Z Passes, can seek out tools and information online, said Transurban.

In a release, Transurban stated that drivers can go to the Express Lanes website and use their trip planning tool.

Additionally, they can learn about properly using the E-Z Pass device, as well as sign up for text or email alerts about the toll prices. The toll prices on the Express Lanes change every 15 minutes, according to real-time traffic.

And if drivers make a mistake with their E-Z Pass, Transurban offers a forgiveness program and customer service assistance, according to Transurban spokesperson Mike McGurk.

“If you take the 95 Express Lanes without an EZ-Pass, what you can do is you can either call our customer service center or go online and if it’s within five days of your trip, you can actually search for your trip and settle the cost of your tolls…Look, if it’s your first time getting an invoice – maybe you didn’t know you needed an EZ-Pass, maybe you didn’t have funding on your EZ-Pass – if you call us after getting that invoice, and it’s your first time, we’ll waive all of the fees and just take payment of your toll,” McGurk commented.

Drive to Donate program starts tomorrow, benefits local fire and rescue departments

News

Transurban will be launching their Drive to Donate program tomorrow – a program that will allow drivers on 495 and 95 Express lanes to donate their toll money to local fire and rescue departments.

The program will last throughout Saturday.

All tolls that are collected by the 495 and 95 Express Lanes will be donated to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, the Prince William County Fire and Rescue, and the Stafford County Fire and Rescue departments.

For drivers to participate in the program, all they need to do is travel on the Express Lanes tomorrow, using their E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex devices mounted in their car.

Your readers can participate and help support these organizations by traveling on the 495 or 95 Express Lanes this Saturday with their E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex properly mounted in their vehicle. It’s that easy.

According to Jennifer Aument, the North American Group General Manager for Transurban, this program is a way to benefit the safety of the communities surrounding the Express Lanes.

“As safety is a top priority on the Express Lanes, we want to give back and support those who keep us safe each and every day,” said Aument, continuing, “We strive to be a good neighbor and long-term partner to our customers and the community, and we believe in supporting those who impact our lives for the better.”

Prince William County Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee stated that the funds raised by this program will help them to purchase important public safety equipment.

“We are grateful to Transurban for the opportunity to participate in this program; and we are grateful to the members of the community who will help donate to the Fire Department by taking the Express Lanes that day. The donations we receive will go towards purchasing items that allow us to continue to pursue innovation and provide service to our community while protecting and keeping our community safe. And that’s what our mission is all about,” said McGee.

Mark Doyle, the Assistant Chief for the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department expressed his gratitude on behalf of the department.

“These donations will serve to protect our first responders, and assist with our community outreach programs. We greatly appreciate all drivers who take the Express Lanes on March 21, as well as the Express Lanes whose generosity will directly contribute to driver and first responder safety,” said Doyle.

VDOT says this bridge over I-95 in Stafford County is still safe to use

News

The bridge carrying traffic on American Legion Road in Stafford County shows signs of deterioration.
A view of the bridge looking east.
Rebar is exposed on a bridge pylon.
The underbelly of the bridge.
american legion 4.jpg
Traffic headed south on I-95 passing underneath the bridge.
Rebar is exposed on the bridge.
Traffic headed south on Interstate 95.

Bridge showing signs of deterioration

Traveling on Interstate 95 in Stafford County, it’s easy to spot the deficiencies on the bridge that carries traffic on American Legion Road.

Reinforced steel bars or rebar, is exposed on two one of the concrete pylons that support the two-lane bridge. There are cracks along other portions of the concrete.

The bridge remains open, and hundreds of thousands of cars continue to pass underneath the bridge when traveling the east coast, from Maine to Florida.

“This bridge is safe for travel. VDOT would not hesitate to make emergency repairs or close a bridge if there was any concern for motorist safety,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelly Hannon. “Visible rebar is a sign that concrete patching is required. There is no plan to change the bridge’s weight posting, which sets the maximum weight for vehicles crossing the bridge. Right now, vehicles meeting all legal load limits in Virginia are allowed to cross the bridge.”

The exposed rebar is a sign of deterioration, probably due to moisture, said Hannon. Moisture can cause the steel to rebar to rust and then expand, causing the concrete to deteriorate from the inside out.

The bridge was built in 1964, and exposed rebar is more common among these types of bridges, said Hannon.

The bridge, like most in Virginia, is inspected every two years. The exposed rebar was noted in the bridge’s last inspection report in November 2013. 

The bridge is scheduled to be inspected again this year. In the meantime, VDOT says it’ll replace the damaged concrete.

“The rebar will be cleaned and repaired, if necessary. Concrete will be replaced at the location where it has deteriorated. We have an upcoming maintenance contract for bridges in VDOT’s 14-county Fredericksburg District to include routine repairs to bridges. A date has not been scheduled,” said Hannon.

Virginia has more than 20,000 bridges to inspect statewide.

Man Sentenced For Exposing Himself in Aquia Harbour

News

Raymond Roy Frye, a previously-convicted rapist, was convicted and sentenced in Stafford County General District Court on Wednesday for his most recent arrest. 

On Dec. 27, 2014, Frye was reportedly standing in the driveway of the house he had moved into just days earlier in Aquia Harbour wearing only a shirt — no pants or underwear — exposing himself to passersby. He was apprehended by Lt. Nate Thompson of the Aquia Harbour Police Department after a brief foot chase. 

Frye, 50, was initially charged with one count of obscene nudity, a misdemeanor. The trial for that charge was set for Feb. 24 but was postponed while Frye was served with additional warrants because there were more victims who claimed to have seen him, according to official sources. 

On March 18, Frye faced a judge, police and seven witnesses for one count of obscene nudity and two counts of obscene display in public, all misdemeanors. He accepted a deal where he pled guilty to all counts and was sentenced to one year in prison for each, with two of those one-year sentences suspended. He also received five years unsupervised probation and must remain on the sex offender registry. 

Frye is not allowed to enter Aquia Harbour for five years. After serving his sentence at the Rappahannock Regional Jail, he plans to return to Maryland where he had been living until shortly before his arrest, according to Thompson.

Frye was convicted of rape and malicious wounding in 1991 in Chesapeake, Virginia, and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was released in 2013. Court records obtained by Potomac Local News show that he was charged with attempted indecent exposure June 3 in Maryland and was released on bail. 

Stafford County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Aquia Harbour Police Department in the Dec. 27 arrest. 

Express Lanes used for leisure travel more than commuting, data shows

News

A study conducted in February of 1,266 area drivers has provided information on the ways that the 95 Express Lanes are changing the commute and general travel for Virginia drivers.

The 95 Express Lanes opened at the end of December last year. Transurban, the company that currently operates the Express Lanes, conducted the study.

While the Express Lanes have been able to alleviate some of the area’s commuter traffic, the survey found that a majority of drivers using the lanes (41%), were using them for visiting family and friends.

According to the data, only 34% to 36% of drivers are using the lanes for commuting to and from work.

In order to access the Express Lanes, drivers need to have an EZ-Pass device mounted in their car, and money loaded on it in order to use the lanes. The fees for using the toll lanes changes about every 15 minutes, using real-time traffic data to calculate the toll charge, said Mike McGurk, a spokesperson from Transurban.

According to Transurban’s online survey, more females (53%) used the lanes than their male counterparts (47%), and that the average age for Express Lane drivers was 40 years old.

A large percentage – 70% – of the commuters that used the 95 Express Lanes also merged on to use the 495 Express Lanes, the first of the Express Lane projects in Northern Virginia.

Another interesting finding was that a majority of area residents – whether they used the Express Lanes or not – thought that they would benefit the area and traffic flow.

And this has been fairly accurate, as the data collected from Express Lane users showed that they’re seeing half the congestion they would see on the general-purpose lanes and that they’re saving about 20 minutes per average on their trip.

Transurban intends to continue to collect data on the new 95 Express Lanes, to help better understand how it is changing the roadways in Northern Virginia.

Free rides offered on St. Patrick’s Day

News

Several area organizations, including the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), have announced free ride offers for those planning to party on St. Patrick’s Day.

WRAP has launched a SoberRide program for St. Patrick’s Day this year, which will allow area residents to access a free and safe ride home from 4 p.m. on Tuesday, to 4 a.m. on Wednesday.

The SoberRide program has been active since 1993, and WRAP has been able to provide more than 62,000 rides home for residents.

In order to utilize the SoberRide program, and get the free cab ride home, a person must call 800-200-8294 or AT&T customers can dial ‘#WRAP’. Riders must also be older than 21 years old to use the service.

The program will cover the cost of up to a $30 cab fare, and riders are responsible for any cost for transportation, after the $30.

Participating Taxi Companies:

Alexandria Yellow Cab (Alexandria)

Barwood, Inc. (Montgomery County)

Fairfax Yellow Cab (Fairfax County)

Loudoun Yellow Cab (Eastern Loudoun County)

Northern Virginia Checker (Prince William County)

Red Top Cab Company (Arlington County)

Silver Cab of Prince George’s County (Prince George’s County)

Yellow Cab of District of Columbia (District of Columbia)

Yellow Cab of Prince William County (Prince William County)

In addition to WRAP’s SoberRide program, free shuttle services are being provided in Occoquan.

The Occoquan Transportation Company is offering free shuttle service home from 10 p.m. on Tuesday, to 1 a.m. on Wednesday for Prince William residents within a 5-mile radius of Occoquan.

To utilize the free shuttle service in Occoquan on St. Patrick’s Day, residents need to call 571-276-8695.

Stafford parks and recreation announces summer camps for kids

News
[Photo: Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

The Stafford Parks and Recreation Department has announced their summer camp line-up for children this summer in Stafford.

Last year more than 1,300 children attended the camps, according to Cathy Volbrecht, Director of Communications for Stafford County.

The county will hire around an additional 20 camp counselors to add to their returning summer camp staff roster, said Heather Hamm, Recreation Programmer for the parks and recreation department.

There will be 12 different types of camps for children to choose from this summer, including adventure camps, outdoor camps, and science camps.

The parks and recreation department will run nine camp sessions during the summer camp season, from June 15 to August 14.

“We host affordable half and full day camps that focus on sports, skateboarding, gymnastics, cheerleading, adventure, discovery, crafts, and nature,” said Volbrecht.

To kick off the summer camp season, the county will be hosting a Summer Camp night event at the Rowser Recreation Center on June 4 from 7 to 8 p.m.

Parents will be able to meet with staff and register their children for camp sessions during the event.

“Parents can meet our fun, energetic staff, ask questions, submit necessary forms and gain additional confidence that their children will be well taken care of for the summer,” commented Volbrecht.

The cost of the summer programs varies, depending on the session, the specific camp program and whether it’s a full day or part day camp.

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