Nonstop Local News for North Stafford, Va.




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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

[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.

Stafford fire and rescue apply for SAFER grant to increase staff

The Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department needs 50 more staff members over the next few years, but with limited funding, they’re looking to the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant to fund some of the cost.

According to county documents the need for the additional fire and rescue staff is coming from increased population growth, as well as increased business development and less volunteer fire fighters working in the county. 

“If successful, our grant application would provide us with the staffing to ensure minimum four-person staffing on our career-staffed engines for the grant performance period,” said Mark Lockhart, County Fire Chief for the Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department, continuing, “This is a first step toward our Public Safety Staffing Plan that provides direction for the department’s staffing. It is our hope that our grant will be approved so that we can continue to move forward to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents.”

The US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the agency that will provide Stafford the funding, if they’re awarded the grant.

The grant would help both fire departments and volunteer fire departments in Stafford, providing more trained staff, which would incident response times and overall public safety in the county, according to board documents.

If the county is awarded the SAFER grant funds, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors was given three options for how they can disperse the grant to help with staffing of fire and rescue. 

With the funds, they could hire 16 full-time firefighters that would cost $850,000 in salaries annually, from the allotted grant funds. The board could also hire 21 fire fighters that would not be full time, to cover gaps in current staff, which would cost $1,104,000, according to board documents. The third option would be to hire 32 firefighters to provide minimum staffing, as well as adding a full-time fire engine, which would cost $1,685,000 annually, according to board documents.

The board decided to select the first option.

“The County has requested $2.3 million for 16 full-time positions for the two-year grant performance period,” said Lockhart.

The financial impact on the county would depend on the decision the board makes of the three options, as well as the total grant funding given to the county, and this would impact the county’s fiscal year 2018.


Pets to adopt at Stafford County SPCA

xena 3.12.15
Xena is a 14 week old pit bill mix that is UTD on her puppy shots and is already housebroken. She loves being around people! 
Nahla is one of the sweetest cats at our shelter! She is happiest when being pet. She is a tabby/calico mix, 4 years old, spayed, and UTD on shots.
LOST DOG – Senior Pug. Went missing 3/10/15 in King George Oakland Park area. Please contact or 540-657-7387 if you have any information. 



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

New landfill workers would keep out Stafford trash

King George’s landfill is for King George residents to use, and they want to keep it that way.

The county landfill is seeking funding from its county’s Board of Supervisors to hire two additional part-time employees. Part of their job duties will be to ensure Stafford residents don’t dump their trash illegally at King George’s landfill, according to landfill manager Jeff Jenkins.

“This is something that we’ve been looking into…we’ve been looking at this for a while. It just kind of got pushed to the forefront with Stafford starting to charge [for landfill use]. [Dumping] is not a big issue here – but sometimes there are people trying to get down here, and we just want to get it before it becomes a problem. You’ve got to realize we’re right here at the Staffordline,” Jenkins said. 

The move comes after The Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board (R-Board) instituted a new disposal fee for Stafford County and Fredericksburg City residents who use the Stafford County Regional Landfill. 

Residents can purchase an annual pass that costs $100, a 10-coupon booklet for $30, or pay $4 per visit at the Eskimo Hill landfill location.

There have been several complaints filed by Stafford residents in recent weeks about a increase in the amount of garbage found dumped along streets near the Stafford landfill.

Matthew Kelly and William Withers, both sit on the Fredericksburg City Council and on the R-Board, and commented on the issue.

“[Littering] was one of the major things we were concerned about. We were certainly hoping that would not happen…the one thing that I do know is that we had to have enough money to run the landfill – and without those charges, we could not have done that,” said Withers.

Kelly said the illegal dumping issue is isolated to Stafford, and he has not seen any of the same issues in Fredericksburg City.

“I can tell you from the city of the equation, we have not had any significant dumping issues. It’s an unfortunate situation – there’s no question about it,” Kelly said.

Withers and Kelly both stand by their vote in favor of the landfill fees.

“Well we didn’t have a choice,” Withers said.

“I actually voted against the current [flat] fee structure…we have a deficit we have to deal with. And as we moved through this, I asked a lot of people questions about it…I got a lot of ‘I don’t like it’ but I didn’t get a lot of suggestions,” said Kelly, continuing, “Stafford specifically voted against providing any additional funding [for the landfill] to the R-Board, to make up the deficit.”

While the R-Board will try to come up with a solution that will meet the need to handle the deficit, and the growing littering problem in the county, Kelly made it known that the problem reflects more on the citizens than the R-Board.

“…[the dumping] says something about our society, and not about decisions made by the R-Board. That people would begin dumping to avoid a relatively small fee, to make up a deficit…I think it says more about the people dumping than anything else,” Kelly said.

Woodstream Trail construction to begin in Stafford

The Woodstream Trail, a trail that is being built to connect the Woodstream community to Smith Lake Park, will begin to be constructed in Stafford.

“This trail will connect the [surrounding] neighborhood[s] to the park,” said Chris Hoppe, a project manager for the county.

After a bidding process that began in January, the Stafford Board of Supervisors approved a bid on February 24 from Southwood Building System, Inc. for the project, according to county documents.

According to minutes of the February 24 board meeting, the board has allotted $548,700 for the project, which is being funded from county capital reserves.

There were some considerations that had to be addressed during the design process of the trail, including steep slopes and stream crossings, from the community to the park.

Hoppe stated that there was no safe way for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods to access the park without riding in their car.

“There are several people who live in the Woodstream community in North Stafford, and there are communities immediately adjacent…who access the [Smith Lake] park by foot and by bicycle,” Hoppe said, continuing, “[Building of the trail] was an initiative taken on by citizens, so that they can get to the park without having to drive their cars or walk along a relatively narrow two-lane road…we’re providing safer access for the citizens, so they’ll be able to walk to the park.”

The county is currently finalizing the contract for construction, and look to have the project completed by the fall.

“We are in the process of getting our contract in place [to move forward], and we’ll be letting our contractor know to proceed with construction, and the trail should be complete in September of this year,” Hoppe stated.

Manassas City Hall art exhibit: Water, water everywhere

manassas, virginia, art

Have you ever watched the Ebb & Flow of water as it laps against the bank, whether it is a river or the ocean? Photographer Hannele Lahti explores the visual fabric of life that is water in the next exhibit at The Hall at Manassas City Hall. Ebb & Flow is a photo exhibit capturing the fleeting moment when all of the variables meld together and are stilled. The exhibit opens on March 17 and runs through April 24 at City Hall, 9027 Center Street in Manassas, Virginia.

Hannele Lhati is a nationally-recognized documentary and fine art photographer who creates images that explore the wonder and fragility of the natural world. She is the owner of Hannele Lahti Photography and a contract photographer for National Geographic. As a child, Lahti grew up on a lake and learned to respect the natural world, to honor its beauty as she sat by the water’s edge with her grandfather.

Exhibits in The Hall rotate on a monthly basis and include different forms of visual art.   Visiting The Hall is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and later when evening meetings are held in the building.

manassas, virginia, art

The Occoquan Reservoir depicted in the Ebb & Flow art exhibit will be held at Manassas, Virginia’s City Hall

manassas, virginia, art

Lake Champlain depicted at the Ebb & Flow art exhibit will be held at Manassas, Virginia City Hall

Stafford to hold public hearing tonight on Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail

Tonight at 7 p.m., Stafford will be hosting a public hearing at the Falmouth Fire Station to hear from residents about the design of the upcoming phase 4 of the Belmont-Ferry Farm trail.

The trail, a 2,900 linear foot, 10-foot wide asphalt trail along River Road in Fredericksburg, has been a work in progress since the 90s, according to Chris Hoppe, a project manager for the county.

The work being done to develop the Belmont-Ferry Farm trail is a part of the county’s ten-point plan to increase tourism and economic development.

“The Board of Supervisors passed a ten-point plan – and it’s generally economic development and tourism – and one of the things [this] trail will do is connect our historic sites, like Belmont all the way to Ferry Farm, and eventually they want it to be a part of the Heritage Trail route,” said Shannon Howell, Public Information Officer for the County.

The phases are not being completed in numerical order, Howell said.

Phases 1, 2, 3 and 5 link county parks and the Stafford visitor’s center as well as other community sites and have already been completed, according to Stafford’s Parks and Recreation website.

In the current design plan for phase 4, the trail will extend from John Lee Pratt Memorial Park all the way to Chatham Bridge. This would add another 2,100 feet to the trail.

The phase will cost $780,000 to complete, but the county will not have to pay that full amount, according to Hoppe.

“With grant funding at 8% reimbursable, it will only cost the county 20% of that total cost,” Hoppe said.

The project’s majority funding sources are federal government grants, which are managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Hoppe commented.

“We’ve received numerous grants over the years. We have to apply every time we need some additional money for each respective phase – and depending on the demand for the grants, we may or may not get the funding…the construction of phase four is conducted and designed, and the next phase, phase six has been funded by the [most recent federal] grant,” Hoppe said.

“The first part of [phase 6] is to do an alignment study, to figure out the best way to get from the Route 3 Bridge at Chatham, to Ferry Farm…then we’ll proceed with additional design work,” said Hoppe.

The meeting will give residents the chance to see the design and make their comments about concerns or any things they would like to see incorporated into the design plan.

Dumping instances increase near Stafford landfill after new fees introduced

stafford landfill trash street

First on Stafford Local 

After recent decision by the Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board (R-Board) to charge disposal fees at a landfill Stafford, more trash has been spotted along streets leading to the landfill.

Stafford County Supervisors Meg Bohmke and Paul Milde have both fielded complaints from several residents about the recent uptick in litter they’ve seen in their communities since the fee structure became active.

“I know of two cases myself. One was a mattress that was put outside…but the other one that I know of was I believe on Eskimo Hill Road – somebody dumped some boxes,” Bohmke said.

Under the new fee structure, residents can purchase a yearly pass for $100, a 10-coupon booklet for $30 or $4 per visit on-site at the landfill, according to a county release.

Prior to charging fees, the R-Board picked up the cost of disposal fees for residents. Milde, Aquia Supervisor and a member of the R-board, expressed his discontent with the littering as a result of the new fees, restating his position against fees for landfill use from the start.

“It was avoidable, predictable, and there was a better way to do it,” Milde said, continuing, “I’m finished arguing with the Supervisors. I’m the only one that didn’t want fees. And I stand by my position that it’s better to try to run the [landfills] in a more competitive fashion, and if necessary, ask for a small subsidy from [Stafford] county.” (more…)

Tractor trailer crash snarls I-95 in Stafford


A tractor trailer carrying a load of cherry tomatoes crashed about 5 a.m. Saturday.

Emergency crews were called to the crash scene on Interstate 95 north, just north of Garrisonville Road. The truck slammed into a crash attenuator, filled with hardened foam, just prior to a series of concrete barriers on the right shoulder.

The trailer ripped in two. The back end remained at the crash attenuator, and the rest of the truck continued north for about 50 yards before coming to rest. The truck came to rest behind the Aquia Pines campground in North Stafford.

No one was injured in the crash. A man who identified himself as the driver stood outside the crash scene talking with Virginia State Police, the agency that was on the scene investigating the crash.

About 75 gallons of fuel spilled from one of the truck’s tanks. Highway crews used sand to absorb the fuel.

At 8 a.m., traffic was getting by the crash in the left lane.

Several boxes of cherry tomatoes speckled the snow-covered roadside. The truck is owned and operated by Leroy Butler, of Jacksonville, N.C.

Drivers on I-95 north sat in delays for about a mile south of the crash scene, to about Courthouse Road.

Dudenhefer speaks out against the 4% VRE Fare Hike

The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) held a public hearing this week in Stafford to talk about a potential 4% increase in fare prices.

There were four attendees at the meeting to ask questions and express their opinions about the fare increase. 

The VRE released the list of submitted questions and statements from the meeting to Potomac Local, but answers to these questions will not be available until later, for VRE’s overall record.

One attendee that spoke out against the fare increases was former delegate Mark Dudenhefer. 

“The proposed fare hikes are expected to cost commuters more than $900,000. As the folks at the VRE work hard to keep cost down, and some factors out of their control like new regulations from our bloated federal government has caused a budget gap. If the state can approve over $700 million for construction of a new trolley car line in Arlington, they should cover this small amount,” said Dudehefer in a release. 

According to a release, Dudenhefer proposed three alternative ways to fund the increases in VRE’s costs, without increasing the fares for residents. 

He proposed finding funding in current allocations of transportation funds, a budget amendment to provide more funding to the VRE, and working with the Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund to find more resources.

Dudenhefer is running this year for the delegate seat in the 2nd district.

Here are the questions and comments from the meeting:


Why does VRE subsidize the Step-Up ticket by $5?

Why is there a new Fredericksburg Line train?

Will the new train operate in the same window as existing trains?

Have the Class I railroads been cooperative in scheduling of the trains?

Will the increase help you speed up service or help you break even?

Are your fuel costs down?

Are you programming increases over the next few years?

Have you looked at peer commuter rail agencies and how they get dedicated funding for their operations? 



An extra $100 per year is a lot for me.  The commuter benefit helps but a four percent increase in fares is substantial to me.  I don’t get a four percent increase in my cost of living.

VRE is a fine service.  I would say perhaps you should not improve it any more.  I can’t even get a Free Ride Certificate any more since you are on-time so much.

Mark Dudenhefer of Stafford County objected to the fare increase.  He stated many folks are not subsidized and this is a hard hit to many people.  Non-government employees have taken pay cuts to keep their jobs.  He is upset over the reduction in state assistance to VRE while the state would provide $800 million for trolley service in Arlington.

You should not plan automatic increases when the economy is rocky.

I am opposed to the fare increase as it is a burden to passengers.  VRE needs a dedicated funding source otherwise we’ll be back here in two years.

Snow storm breaks records at airports, brings several inches to area neighborhoods

030614 march snow

Thursday’s snow was record breaking at all three Washington, D.C. area airports.

At total of 9.5 inches of snow fell at Washington Dulles International Airport, breaking the daily snowfall total at that airport set in 2001.

At Regan National Airport, 4.8 inches of snow was recorded breaking the old daily record of 4.4 inches set in 1888.

In Baltimore, 6.2 inches of snow fell breaking a the old record set in 1902, according to the National Weather Service.

The Washington area has recorded above average snowfall this winter. While winter was slow to bring snow to the area, 15.4 inches of snow have been measured at Reagan National and 22 inches of snow has fallen at Washington Dulles, according to the weather service.

Here’s a look at some local snow total as reported by the National Weather Service:


HERNDON 9.0 525 PM 3/05 PUBLIC




Bundle up today as high temperatures are expected to only climb into the high 20s, but we’ll have some sun. Tonight, temperatures will fall back down into the mid teens with clear skies.

Saturday will bring partly cloudy skies with a high of 46 degrees and light winds increasing throughout the morning hours. On Saturday night, expect partly cloudy skies with low near 31 degrees.  

Closings and delays for Friday, March 6, 2015

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Public schools

Colleges and universities


Local governments

No changes to tax rate, increases in county salaries and schools proposed in Stafford

Stafford County Administrator Anthony Romanello presented his proposed fiscal year 2016 budget to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday.

Among the key points in the proposal were that no changes in tax rates were suggested. The real estate tax will remain at $1.019, the same rate as last year, according to Stafford County spokeswoman Shannon Howell. 

According to Howell, the average tax bill for a Stafford resident would be $2,731. 

“There is no change to the average tax bill because this year is not a [property] re-assessment year,” Howell said. 

Real estate taxes is the county’s main source of funding revenue.

Additionally a 2% raise for school and county employees, and more funding to the school system were proposed, according to county documents.

There were six areas that the board stated were a priority for this budget process – reducing the citizen’s tax burden, public safety, education, infrastructure, economic development and service excellence.

With the current budget draft, Romanello stated that the county would be looking to attain a AAA bond rating.

The spending not related to public safety in the county is $3 million less than in 2009, and the staff also made $3.4 millions in reductions and management additions. (more…)

Closings and delays for March 5, 2015

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4 to 8 inches expected, snow heaviest Thursday morning

11:15 a.m.

Here’s a weather forecast from the National Weather Service for projected accumulation in the next few hours.

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 11.14.21 AM


11:08 a.m.

The snow is coming down hard in the Manassas area right now. Video submitted by one of our reporters, Amber Champ. 


10:53 a.m.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is ready to clear roads as the winter storm continues to move across the area this afternoon. They have advised against non-essential travel on roads today.

More from a VDOT release:

Virginia Department of Transportation crews with nearly 900 pieces of available equipment are ready to treat and clear roads this afternoon as a winter storm moves across the 14-county Fredericksburg District. 

Road conditions are currently clear in most of the Fredericksburg area, with ice beginning to appear on primary roads in Stafford County, which is experiencing sleet and freezing rain.

Road conditions are clear and wet in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

Conditions are expected to change quickly as rain changes to sleet, freezing rain and snow this afternoon, and driving could quickly become hazardous.

 Before starting a trip, travelers should check real-time road conditions at, by calling 511, or downloading VDOT’s free mobile 511 app. While snow is falling, motorists are advised to stay off the roads and delay nonessential travel.

VDOT has tree removal contactors on standby to assist the agency with removing trees and other debris that may obstruct travel lanes. 

Temperatures are expected to fall below freezing Thursday evening into Friday morning, which could lead to icy, slippery road conditions. VDOT crews will apply salt to melt ice and snow, and sand to improve traction for motorists.

What Motorists Should Know: 

While snow is falling, VDOT crews will make repeated passes on Interstate 95, primary roads, and key secondary roads to keep travel lanes clear.

VDOT’s goal is to have all roads passable within 48 hours of a storm’s end.

Motorists are encouraged to delay any nonessential travel.

VDOT’s Customer Service Center is open 24 hours a day to answer questions and take reports of roadway hazards at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623).

Shovel snow from your driveway to the right as you face the street. This will minimize the snow pushed into your driveway by plows clearing the road. Consider waiting to shovel the last several feet closest to the street until after plows have passed.


8:53 p.m.

The National Weather Service has released a Dense Fog Advisory, in effect until 10 p.m. tonight.

7:07 p.m.

Wondering if you have work or school tomorrow? Take a look at our closings page.

4:18 p.m.

The City of Manassas has declared a snow emergency, effective starting 8 a.m. tomorrow.

More from a city release:

On March 4, 2015, the City of Manassas is declaring a Snow Emergency effective at 8 a.m. on March 5, 2015 due to the impending snow event. This means that cars parked along designated snow emergency routes are subject to towing and fines.

Snow emergency routes in the City of Manassas are as follows:  Dumfries Road/Route 234, Hastings Drive, Godwin Drive, Liberia Avenue, Richmond Avenue, Fairview Avenue, Grant Avenue, Wellington Road, Ashton Avenue, Cockrell Road, Nokesville Road/Route 28, Center Street, Prescott Avenue, Sudley Road/Route 234, Church Street, Zebedee Street, Centreville Road/Route 28, Mathis Avenue, Portner Avenue and Euclid Avenue.

Once the snow event is over, the City will issue a termination of the snow emergency and will reopen these streets to parking.

1:41 p.m.

The Service Authority is asking residents to help keep fire hydrants free of snow during the storm, in case of incidents where fire and rescue need access.

winter warning1:30p.m.

Expect more snow – and lots of it.

The National Weather Service has issues a Winter Storm Warning, in effect from midnight to 9p.m. on Thursday.

There is a wintry mix expected, with between 4 to 8 inches of snow accumulation and additional ice accumulation.

The snow is expected to be heaviest during late Thursday morning, and continue on through Thursday afternoon.

If you’re still planning to commute into work on Thursday morning, VDOT is urging caution, and has also issued a release about difficulties traveling during the storm. 

Potomac Local will keep you updated on the latest in closings, delays and outages.

More from a National Weather Service alert:





















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