44°

A Few Clouds

Wed Thu Fri
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM EST on December 17, 2014
Partly Cloudy
55°/30°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM EST on December 18, 2014
Partly Cloudy
45°/32°
It is forcast to be Partly Cloudy at 10:00 PM EST on December 19, 2014
Partly Cloudy
45°/28°

Traffic & Transit

I-95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes offer smooth ride to Stafford

We took a drive on the new Interstate 95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes this afternoon.

The lanes were free to drivers before 3:30 p.m. today, as the lanes are operating under the old HOV rules that require vehicles to have three or more occupants 6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Beginning Dec. 29, all vehicles will need an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex (carpoolers will should use this to not be charged a toll) to use the lanes.

We wanted to drive the new portion of the lanes, from Dumfries south to the Express Lanes’ terminus at Garrisonville Road.

We got on the lanes near Potomac Mills mall, near milepost 156 Dale Boulevard. Midday traffic was light, and we had no issues traveling the stretch of lanes.

The old HOV exit at Route 234 in Dumfries, where all HOV traffic used to merge with the travel lanes of I-95, has been closed. Drivers now proceed about a half mile south to a new flyover exit ramp that carries drivers back to the highway travel lanes as well as connects them to an exit for Joplin Road, Quantico Marine Corps Base, Quantico National Cemetery, and Prince William Forest Park.

We continued south to terminus of the lanes at Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. All drivers are forced to merge into a single lane before transitioning into an exit flyover ramp that carries drivers back to the main lanes of I-95, or connects them to Garrisonville Road.

The I-95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes carry drivers north to Washington in the mornings and then south each afternoon. Officials say the drivers should remain popular with slugs or carpoolers, who ride together in vehicles of three or more occupants for a faster commute to work. Drivers in vehicles with two or fewer occupants will have the option to pay a toll of about $6 to $8 per 1o to 12-mile trip on the lanes, said express lanes spokesman Micheal McGurk. 

The total length of the lanes is 29 miles from Garrisvonville Road to Esdall Road in Alexandria.

 

Car burns on I-66 between 234, Prince William Parkway

car on fire 66

Updated

Fire and rescue crews called to the scene extinguished the blaze. 

Prince William fire and rescue Assistant Chief Thomas Jarman said the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived. The driver had fled the scene but later returned.

State police are now investigating what led to the fire.

Original post 

A car was seen burning on Interstate 66 about 9 a.m.

The car was pulled to the side of the eastbound lanes, between Prince William Parkway and Sudley Road (Route 234 Business).

Fire and rescue crews had not yet made it on scene and flames could be seen underneath the car, says a witness who submitted photos of the blaze to Manassas Local.

No VRE service Dec. 26

Virginia Railway Express will not operate service the day after Christmas.

Federal workers were granted leave for that day.

The commuter railroad issued the following statement about their adjusted holiday schedule:

December 24, 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 25, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Christmas

December 26, 2014 – No VRE service

December 29-31, 2014 – “S” Schedule

January 1, 2015 – No VRE service in observance of New Year’s Day

January 2, 2015 – “S” Schedule

January 19, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“No VRE service” is easy enough to figure out but if you are new to our service, we operate an “S” Schedule on certain days. The only trains that will operate on those days are those that are marked with as “S” next to its train number on the schedule. (We also implement this reduced schedule when inclement weather warrants it.) 

What to know ahead of I-95 EZ-Pass lanes opening

A view of the I-96 EZ-Pass Express Lanes from Dale Boulevard in Dale City.

Potomac Local continues its effort to keep you informed ahead of the opening of the EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 from North Stafford to Edsall Road in Fairfax County. 

Here is the latest information provide to us about the switch over from HOV lanes to express lanes, which begins Sunday afternoon. The information comes to us via the form of a media briefting from EZ-Pass Express Lanes operator Transurban:

Opening Preparations

Beginning tomorrow, December 12 through Sunday, December 14, we will unveil all Express Lanes signage.  All HOV lanes will be closed starting the evening of Friday, December 12 until the evening of Sunday, December 14.

Roadway Opening

The evening of Sunday, December 14 the new roadway improvements will open including:

  • Nine-mile extension from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road
  • Third lane from Prince William Parkway to the vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395
  • All new entry and exit points

From December 14 – 28, when the new capacity is open, HOV rules will continue to be in effect.  The HOV regulatory signs will remain in place and dynamic message signs (DMS) will communicate the HOV rules. 

The new lane use management system and the variable speed limit system will be turned on.  Drivers should follow the speed posted on the variable speed limit signs. The lane use management system will alert drivers if a lane is closed to traffic.  If a red “X” is displayed above, drivers should exit that lane as soon as it is safe to do so.

For two weeks, until Sunday, December 28, the Express Lanes (new capacity and new entries/exits) will be toll-free to allow travelers to benefit from the additional capacity during the holiday season.  Standard HOV rules apply (with the exception of holidays).

Gate Operations

Transurban will assume gate operations along the entire I-95 and I-395 corridor on Sunday, December 14.  Gate transition time on the HOV and Express Lanes facilities is expected to increase due to the nine mile southern extension and new gates.  Drivers should expect delays in the afternoon transition to reverse the flow of the traffic southbound.  Ultimately, the gates transition will return to standard times experienced today.

On Monday, December 15, the gates will begin to close at 10:30 a.m. instead of 11 a.m.  This will help accommodate southbound traffic in the afternoon.

Tolling Begins

Tolling begins Monday, December 29.  All drivers will need an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex (carpoolers) to use the Express Lanes.

I-95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes open Monday

Photo By Trevor Wrayton/VDOT

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe cuts the ribbon on the 95 Express Lanes project with Senator Mark Warner, U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Senator Tim Kaine and other elected officials on December 10 at a ceremony at Transurban’s operation center in Alexandria. The new ramps and lanes on I-95 will open Sunday, Dec. 14 to allow motorists to benefit from the lanes during the holiday season without having to pay a toll. Standard HOV rules will continue to be in effect during rush hour until tolling begins on December 29. [Submitted photo]

I-95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes tolling begins in 2 weeks

Update

Drivers will not need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 when they open Monday. The lanes will operate under old HOV lanes rules that require vehicle to have three or more occupants between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3:30 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The lanes will be open to traffic at all other times.

Staring Dec. 29, all drives will need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the lanes, and the lanes will be tolled at all times. Virginia State Police are required to enforce the new rules.

Original post

The new reversible EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95 will open to traffic Monday.

The opening marks the culmination of a 2-year, $990 million effort to convert the existing HOV facility on I-95 from Dumfries to Edsall Road to new lanes that will all be electronically tolled. New tolled lanes were also built from Dumfries south to Garrisonville Road in North Stafford.

All drivers will need an EZ-Pass to use the lanes as there are no toll booths on the lanes. Drivers who carpool will need an EZ-Pass Flex that will allow them to flip a switch on the device that tells the all-electronic toll booths not to charge if there are three or more people in the vehicle.

The lanes will continue to carry motorists north in the mornings and south in the evenings.

Click here to get a map of the new lanes and see how to use them

 

Tolling on the lanes will begin Dec. 29. That will give drivers time to learn the layout of the new lanes, and construction crews and additional two weeks to continue working on the finishing touches to the lanes.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement:

“The 95 Express Lanes are an investment in Virginia’s economy,” Governor McAuliffe said.  “Not only did the project create thousands of jobs during construction and put more than 500 businesses to work, the new infrastructure will also support future economic development and job growth in the region.  The improved mobility and new access that will be provided by the project will help ensure that Virginia remains a great place to live and do business. My team and I are working every day to build a new Virginia economy, and this important project will help us advance that important goal.”

Those words came after state and local officials gathered Wednesday for a ribbon cutting ceremony to herald the opening.

Drivers using the lanes will notice variable tolling, and will be charged one price per mile of distance they travel on the lanes. While a driver’s EZ-Pass locks in the toll rate when the vehicle enters the lanes, prices to use the lanes will rise as more cars enter the lanes, and will fall as fewer cars on the lanes.

The lanes were built and will be maintained through a public-private partnership with Virginia and Transurban, an Australia-based company that will operate and profit from the lanes for nearly 100 years. Transurban also constructed and maintains EZ-Pass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road, where four new lanes, and 14 new bridges were added to that portion of the Beltway to accommodate an increase in traffic.

  • The governor also distributed key points about the project identified as benefits for commuters:

  • An expanded system from two to three lanes for 14 miles between Prince William Parkway to the vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395

  • Improvement of the existing HOV system for six miles from Route 234 to the Prince William Parkway

  • A nine-mile extension from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to alleviate the bottleneck where the HOV lanes end today

  • Improved system performance through enhanced enforcement and incident response

  • New access points offering more direct connections

The new EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, tolling will be in effect at all times.

Under the rules of the old HOV lanes, drivers were required to have three or more occupants inside their car 6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drivers were then able to use the lanes freely at all other times.

 

 

 

Crews erecting overhead sign closing portion of I-95

Drivers on Interstate 95 south pass under Telegraph Road in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Road crews needing to install a new overhead sign on Interstate 95 near Dumfries must close a northbound portion of the highway late Wednesday night / early Thursday morning.

Here’s more in a press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation: 

Weather permitting, all northbound lanes on I-95, (near the truck-weigh station, mile marker 154.1, just north of Dumfries Road/Route 234), will close between midnight, Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 5 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 11, for the installation of an overhead sign structure.
 
This closure will last up to 15 minutes, and may be repeated a second time. Single lane closures will begin in this area of I-95 North on Wednesday night, starting as early as 9:00 p.m. Message signs will be posted in advance of the work so that motorists can plan accordingly.

The closures are part of VDOT’s project to add auxiliary lanes and enhance the safety shoulder along north- and southbound I-95 in Prince William County. These improvements are expected to be completed by summer 2015.

Minor injuries in Prince William Parkway pedestrian crash

A pedestrian involved in a crash this morning on Prince William Parkway suffered minor injuries.

The crash occurred on the parkway, between Route 1 and Interstate 95. The closure prompted some delays for morning commuters in the area.

The road was closed for a police investigation following the crash. The road was reopened at 7:15 a.m., said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Hit and run crash damages pillar at shopping center, witness says

crash, woodbridge, potomac mills

A hit and run crash damaged a pillar at the Potomac Festival shopping center in Woodbridge. [Submitted photo]

A driver hit a post inside the Potomac Mills Festival shopping center in Woodbridge.

The hit and run crash happened Monday night, according to Sarah Wyatt, who posted a photo of the damaged pillar to her Facebook page.

Never a dull moment. Watched a truck do this before my very eyes and then drive off, only to find out later he crashed into 2 more vehicles and crashed into a wall by Outback.

-Sarah Wyatt, photographer 

According to Wyatt, the crash happened near Swim Kids. As soon as the vehicle hit the pillar, the vehicle sped away, she added.

Should Prince William raise taxes to fill $17.7 million bus budget gap?

Average tax bills could rise by $80 to offset budget shortfall

Commuter bus service in Prince William County is heading toward a fiscal cliff.

A budget deficit of $17.7 million is looming for OmniRide commuter buses and OmniLink local buses. The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission or PRTC — the agency that operates the buses — asked Prince William leaders to help make up a budget shortfall that could lead to 1/3 of all PRTC to be slashed, starting in 2018.

PRTC expects the state to provide 10% fewer dollars than it last year. Additionally, a surplus of monies collected in the 2.3% motor fuels tax — a tax on every gallon of fuel purchased in the county — is expected to run out by 2018.

With the drop in fuel prices, and newer cars getting more miles per gallon, gas tax revenues are expected to be flat over the next several years despite Prince William’s growing population, said PRTC Executive Director Al Harf.

Prince William County is the largest funder of PRTC, as 86% of riders live in the county. The county gave $15.2 million to both PRTC and Virginia Railway Express this year, while Virginia provided $16.2 million, and the Federal Government $2.7 million.

The bus system now wrangles with the costs of maintenance, purchasing new buses to replace old ones, and has seen fewer dollars than expected from last year’s landmark transportation bill that increased sales taxes to generate an estimated $880 million in new revenue for transportation and transit. Harf says the linger affects of the recession, the impact of sequestration, and lower fuel costs are all to blame for the lower funds.

Prince William leaders have the option of footing the entire $17.7 million bill, placing the tax burden on the backs of county taxpayers.

“We would need a significant amount of funding from the general fund to accomplish this,” Prince William County Budget Director Michelle Casciato told officials in September.

Total funding would lead to an $80 increase to the average property tax bill paid by county residents. Because of a revenue sharing agreement between the county government and its public school system, education funding would automatically be increased by the move.

County leaders also have the option of diverting monies already allocated toward traffic improvement projects, such as widening Minnieville, Balls Ford, Neabsco Mills, and Vint Hill roads, and using the dollars to fund the transit service. That option would push back construction completion dates on the road projects by up to 10 years and, due to inflation, would mean the projects could cost more in the long run.

If the county picks up only some of the cost, about $13 million, then PRTC warns local buses and buses that service Metro stations in Springfield and Vienna would run less frequently. Riders could also expect large annual fare increases, rising as much as 42%, beginning in 2016.

“Once you lose a rider, you’ve lost them,” said Harf. “More people would rely on family and friends, and they would be carpooling where they are not carpooling now.” 

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will begin working on the fiscal year 2016 budget in earnest after the 1st of the year.

Manassas and Manassas Park residents also use the bus service, but those independent cities do not contribute funding to PRTC. If the cities did, it would help to close the budget gap by $2 million, said Harf.

Virginia Transportation Chief to Speak in Woodbridge

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane will appear at a town hall meeting in Woodbridge.

The secretary is expected to discuss several transportation projects taking place in the region, like the EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95 set to open later this month to the widening of Route 1 in Woodbridge.

“There is a lot of investment around transportation in the Woodbridge District. We will have a Q&A with Secretary Layne and a panel discussion with VDOT, Transburban, PRTC, and PW County Transportation. We will talk about what to expect from upcoming transportation projects.”

– Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Princpi

The meeting is being organized by the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association. It will be held Wednesday, Dec. 10 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Freedom High School in Woodbridge.

Updated: Route 1 Crash Kills 1, Injures Another

route-1-crash-1route-1-crash-2route-1-crash-3route-1-crash-4route-1-crash-5route-1-crash

Update

A 26-year-old motorcyclist from Woodbridge was killed in a crash on Route 1.

Here’s the latest from police:

Crash – Fatality – On December 2nd at 12:24PM, investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit responded to the area of Jefferson Davis Hwy and Chesapeake Dr in Dumfries (22026) to investigate a crash involving a motorcycle.

The investigation revealed that the driver of a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado was making a left turn from Chesapeake Dr onto southbound Jefferson Davis Hwy when the vehicle crossed paths with a 2010 Yamaha T-Max motorcycle which was traveling northbound on Jefferson Davis Hwy.

The operator of the motorcycle and a passenger were transported to area hospitals where the operator died as a result of his injuries. The passenger of the motorcycle also sustained serious injuries. The driver of the Silverado pickup truck was not injured. Due to the impact, the motorcycle was initially believed to have been a moped but was determined to be a motorcycle during the investigation.

Speed, alcohol and drug use are not factors in the collision. Both occupants of the motorcycle were wearing helmets at the time of the crash. Charges are pending at this time. The investigation continues.

Identified:

The operator of the 2010 Yamaha T-Max motorcycle was identified as Justin CaseyFELCH, 26, of Woodbridge

The passenger of the 2010 Yamaha T-Max motorcycle was identified as a 31 year old man of Dumfries

The driver of the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado was identified as a 57 year old man of Germantown, MD

Original post

One person was killed this afternoon in a crash on Route 1 outside Dumfries.

Here’s the latest from Prince William police:

UPDATE [2:01PM]: This crash is a confirmed fatality and involved a moped, not a motorcycle as originally reported. The deceased is an adult male. A second adult male was also transported with injuries; his condition is unknown at this time. Both were on the moped at the time of the collision. The investigation continues. The roadway also remains closed at this time.

—————————————–

*TRAFFIC ALERT [Original Post]: Dumfries | Vehicle Crash;
All lanes of Jefferson Davis Hwy in both directions will be closed in the area of Chesapeake Dr for a vehicle crash involving a motorcycle. Police are on scene directing traffic. Use caution if traveling in the area.

Prince William County Public Schools posted a statement noting school buses, while not involved in the crash, could be delayed.

 

All students and staff are safe but a traffic accident in the vicinity of Chesapeake Drive and Route 1 has closed Route 1 in that area. Transportation for school buses for Potomac High School, Potomac Middle School, Williams Elementary School, and River Oaks Elementary School may be delayed. The potential for further delays for other bus traffic in that area is possible, and additional schools may be affected. Stay tuned for more details. 

All lanes of Jefferson Davis Highway in the vicinity of Chesapeake Drive are closed.

Demand Grows, Montclair Bus Route Splits

Dozens of OmniRide busses are lined up ready to go out on the afternoon runs at PRTC in Woodbridge.

Some PRTC bus routes and timetables have been adjusted starting today, December 1, as the Fall Service Change takes effect. The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission updates its schedules twice annually – in the spring and fall – to reflect current running times and make other changes such as updating routing and relocating bus stops as necessary.

The most significant change is the splitting of the Montclair OmniRide commuter bus service into two separate routes. This plan is being implemented in order to accommodate growing demand and provide faster and more reliable service to passengers.

Prior to the Service Change, a single Montclair OmniRide route served both the Pentagon and multiple destinations in downtown Washington, D.C. Starting today, the route has been split into two: a Montclair-Pentagon route and a Montclair-D.C. route. The new Montclair routes originate at Cardinal & Bonneville, and service to the Dale City Commuter Lot and the stops at Minnieville & Savannah has been discontinued.

After being considered for elimination earlier this year, the Tysons Express route continues to operate, thanks to funding from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The route has been renamed Tysons OmniRide, charging regular OmniRide fares ($5.75 SmarTrip and $7.70 cash), and one PM trip has been removed. Additionally, the Tysons Express bus wraps that differentiate the route’s buses from the rest of the PRTC fleet will be removed.

The Fall Service Change also includes the following changes:

  • The last two Manassas OmniRide AM trips now only serve the local stops at the Portsmouth Commuter Lot and on Portsmouth Road. Those trips now operate express from Portsmouth Road to I-66 via Sudley Road.
  • Two trips have been eliminated from both the AM and PM Dale City-Washington schedules, among other timetable changes.
  • The Dale City-Pentagon/Crystal City and Lake Ridge-Pentagon/Crystal City routes no longer serve the stops at Clark & 20th and Crystal & 18th.
  • The Dale City – Navy Yard route no longer serves the stop at 12th & M, and some timetable changes have taken effect.
  • Route 1 OmniLink buses have discontinued service to the stop at Fraley & Graham Park. Timetable changes have been made to the route.
  • Timetable changes have been made to the Manassas OmniLink route.
  • Prince William Metro Direct schedules have not been updated for the Fall Service Change. New versions will be released later in December when the I-95 Express Lanes open and Virginia Megaprojects funding for the Saturday service ends. Free fares will continue on Saturdays until the opening of the Express Lanes. At that time, weekday Metro Direct fares will be charged for the Saturday Prince William Metro Direct, and the number of Saturday trips will be reduced.

Updated bus schedules are available online at PRTCtransit.org, at the PRTC Transit Center and on buses.

For more information about any of PRTC’s transportation services, please visit PRTCtransit.org or call Customer Service at (703) 730-6664.

Stafford Wants Left Turn Lanes on Route 1 at Courthouse

img_3726img_3732img_3739img_3741img_3744

Improvements also coming to Routes 1 & 610, Mountain View Rd.

What’s going to make traffic run smoother on Route 1 in front of Stafford County Courthouse?

The answer is dedicated left turn lanes at Courthouse Road, and at the intersection of Bells Hill and Hope roads, according to a county report.

The stretch of Route 1 at the heart of the county is one to avoid on weekday afternoons when traffic backs up at one of the two signal lights in the area. With dedicated left turn lanes, drivers turning left will be able to pull their cars into those lanes and not stall other drivers going straight or turning right.

The Bowman Consulting Group will be paid $798,431 to engineer the left turn lanes plan, according to the county report. The project will be divided into two phases – first constructing the left turn lanes at Courthouse Road, and then constructing left turn lanes where Route 1 meets Bells Hill and Hope roads.

County officials say transportation is a “critical part of the county’s road improvement plan and redevelopment plan.” Several streetscape improvements, such as new sidewalks and streetlights, have been installed in the area around the courthouse.

The county is also looking at improving other failing intersections. At the intersection of Route 1 and Garrisonville Road (Route 610), officials propose adding additional right turn lanes from Route 1 south to Route 610 west to cut down on congested traffic during the afternoon rush hour.

On Mountain View Road, the lanes are being widened to a consistent 12 feet wide on a 1.3 mile stretch of the two-lane road from Joshua Road to Rose Hill Farm Drive. The road’s shoulders will also be wider, increasing from their current one to two feet in some places to eight feet wide throughout the 1.3-mile stretch of road.

County officials said drivers will be able to maintain a “safe” speed limit of 40 miles per hour along the improved portion of the road when work is complete. Drivers should also notice improved curves and sight distances after the roadwork is completed.

Winter Advisory Issued for Prince William Ahead of Storm

Prince William County and the Greater Manassas area is now under a winter weather advisory as approaching Thanksgiving storm could bring a mix of rain and accumulating snow.

Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM TO 6 PM EST
WEDNESDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS
ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW… WHICH IS IN EFFECT
FROM 8 AM TO 6 PM EST WEDNESDAY.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS…2 TO 5 INCHES IN THE FAR NORTHERN AND WESTERN
SUBURBS OF WASHINGTON AND BALTIMORE. A COATING TO AN INCH NEAR
INTERSTATE 95.

* TIMING…RAIN WILL CHANGE TO SNOW BETWEEN 8 AND 11 AM WEDNESDAY
MORNING. THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL OCCUR THROUGH 2 PM WEDNESDAY
AFTERNOON. SNOW WILL TAPER OFF LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

* TEMPERATURES…LOWER TO MIDDLE 30S.

* WINDS…NORTH BECOMING NORTHWEST 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS AROUND
20 MPH.

* IMPACTS…ROADS MAY BECOME SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY…MAINLY
ACROSS THE FAR NORTHERN AND WESTERN SUBURBS OF WASHINGTON AND
BALTIMORE. SNOW WILL ALSO REDUCE THE VISIBILITY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE
TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED
VISIBILITIES…AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

A winter storm watch for counties to the west, including Fauquier County, has been upgraded to a winter storm warning. They could see four to eight inches of snow from this system.

The storm will impact our area on the busiest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving. More than 1 million people in the Washington area were expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this holiday to visit friends and family.

Snow in Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

Interstate 95 south at Dumfries [Photo: Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

Accumulating snow possible Wednesday night 

It was 65 degrees at 7 a.m. this morning, 30 degrees warmer than it has been 24 hours prior. After a string of bitterly cold weather, the high temperature is forecast to reach 72 today.

What’s weather is on tap for later in the week? Snow – the kind that accumulates on the ground.

At least an inch and a half is possible in the Washington, D.C. area on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. That day just happens to be the busiest travel day of the year as families head to the homes of loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The storm will begin as rain as early as Tuesday night when temperatures will be in the low 40s in our area. Those temps will drop throughout Wednesday morning into the low 30s. The weather service calls this temperature area a “critical zone” if snow lovers are going to see the white stuff from what would be the first winter storm of the season for our area.

The accumulating snow should come Wednesday afternoon when the mix of snow and rain changes to all snow for areas north and west of Washington, while areas along Interstate 95 could see lower snow totals.

AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates more than 1 million people in the Washington area will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving.

VRE Modifies Schedule for Holiday Season

121212 VRE

Virginia Railway Express riders: pull out your calendars and take note.

Here is the holiday schedule for all VRE trains, noting when service will be modified or canceled due to a holiday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

November 27, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Thanksgiving

November 28, 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 24. 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 25, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Christmas

December 26, 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 29-31, 2014 – “S” Schedule

January 1, 2015 – No VRE service in observance of New Year’s Day

January 2, 2015 – “S” Schedule

January 19, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Martin Luther King Jr., Day

New Sidewalk Part of Dumfries Multimodal Plan

Dumfries, Virginia, traffic, transit

New sidewalks will soon line a portion of Route 1 in Dumfries. 

Construction of the new walkway is happening now on the southbound portion of the four-lane road. Drivers can’t miss the orange barrels noting the work.

Here’s more about the sidewalks form Dumfries Town Manager Dan Taber: 

Those sidewalks are part of the multi-modal project Phase 2 that had been approved a few years ago. 

The project when completed will connect the existing short segment of sidewalk along Route 1 from Route 234 to the existing sidewalk that picks up along Route 1 across from Cathy and Harold’s Restaurant.

The sidewalk is 1,700 feet long and includes a curb, gutter, storm drain, and a retaining wall, according to a request for proposals document issued in June.

The town’s multimodal plan is listed as the top transportation priority in Dumfries, according to the town government’s capital improvement program 2010-2014. The new sidewalks will make it easier for pedestrians to walk to bus stops, shopping centers, housing, and other facilities in the town, according to the plan.

A total of $60,000 per year, from 2010 to 2014, was budgeted for multimodal improvements, according to town documents.

Stafford Airport Runway Extension Means More Planes

The Stafford Regional Airport wants to extend its runway at an estimated cost of $8 to $12 million.

The project would bring more air traffic to the airport from the north, and opponents worry it would bring more airplane noise to surrounding neighborhoods.

Facilities manager Ed Wallis said that with the growth and use of the airport in its current operations, the extension has already been a part of their master planning process.

“Currently the airport runway traffic pattern is all to the south. A normal airport has traffic on both sides of the runway…there’d be very few aircraft on that side of the runway…we wouldn’t come near the areas [Sterling is] worried about,” Wallis said.

A longer runway would also mean aircraft taking off from the airport could carry more fuel and reach destinations further away, such as the U.S. west coast.

“Right now, on a hot and humid day, one of the largest aircraft that use [the airport] could not take a full load of fuel or a full load of passengers and go to the West Coast, because the runway’s too short. By lengthening the runway, it gives planes the stopping distance they need, should there be an emergency right at takeoff.”

“We are not increasing the capability of the runway, size wise. What we’re doing is increasing the capability of the aircrafts that currently use us, to use the maximum capacity of fuel and passengers,” said Wallis.

Before any work to the runway can begin, an ongoing environmental assessment needs to be completed. Public hearings will be held in spring to discuss the findings in the assessment with the community. 

The project to extend the runway, which could top out at $12 million, would see 90% of funding from the FAA, 8% of the Virginia State Dept of Aviation, and the remaining 2% from the Stafford Regional Airport Authority, said Wallis.

This extension would mirror similar work completed at the Manassas Regional Airport in 2012. An additional 500 feet was added to their runway.

Juan Rivera, the director of the Manassas airport, understood the need for a runway extension to ensure that planes could take on a full load of passengers and fuel, that Wallis cited as a major reason for Stafford’s intended extension.

“It’s been good for [the airport]… We have not had any major issues as far as noise and safety,” Rivera said.

This comparison between the two airports could become important as some individuals are not in support of the potential runway extension. For Cord Sterling, Stafford County Rock Hill District Supervisor, there are safety and financial concerns related to the airport’s plans that need to be addressed.

“You’ve got to look at what they’re planning. They’re not only expanding it – they’re adding that Northern route. The route takes [planes] over Stafford High School and over neighborhoods,” Sterling said.

Sterling also said the plans for the runway extension contradict earlier comments made by the Stafford Airport Authority about safe use in the neighborhoods surrounding the airport.

“The Stafford Airport Authority has come out saying that the things like schools and neighborhoods are not compatible for those flight paths, that it’s a danger to people on the ground. It’s a danger to the quality of life,” said Sterling.

Sterling also pointed to the Airport’s financial dependence on subsidies from the Stafford County budget as further concern for the extension.

“I think they should just continue to operate how they’re operating. What’s the need for the expansion? [The airport hasn’t] been able to show us they can the deliver,” Sterling said, citing County money loaned for a terminal, the removal of an airplane pass and addition of fuel station at the airport.

Wallis insisted that there were no major safety concerns and that the addition of north side air traffic as they have currently planned, will not be a noise issue. Stafford County officials showed the latest plans for the runway expansion at a recent public meeting.

Rules Changing for Drivers on I-95 HOV Lanes

IMG_3430

The rules of the road are changing for those who use HOV lanes on Intestate 95.

When the newly built 95 Express toll lanes open in December, a 29-mile stretch of the road from Route 610 in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexnadria, to include a large portion of the existing HOV lanes, will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nearly everyone will need an EZ-Pass to use the lanes — even drivers of hybrid cars. Under the old rules, vehicles with three or more occupants, hybrid cars with a clean fuel designation printed on them, and motorcycles could use the lanes at all times. Under the new rules, motorcyclists can ride free but all other vehicles need an EZ Pass or EZ-Pass Flex.

Here’s more from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Carpoolers: 

  • Carpools need an E-ZPass Flex
  • Carpools with three or more people can travel toll-free on the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode.   
  • E-ZPass Flex works like a standard E-ZPass but allows carpoolers to switch between HOV and toll-paying modes. The switchable E-ZPass Flex lets the Express Lanes operator know which vehicles are HOV-3+ so that they aren’t charged a toll.  

Drivers of Hybrid Vehicles with Clean Fuel Plates: 

 

When the 95 Express Lanes open, hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 must pay a toll or have three people in the car to use the Lanes.  The rules affecting hybrids are as follows:

  • Hybrid drivers can ride toll-free on the 95 Express Lanes with three people in the vehicle and an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode; or,
  • They can pay the toll with an E-ZPass if traveling with fewer than three people in the vehicle.
  • The 95 Express Lanes will end just north of Edsall Road. From Edsall Road to Washington, D.C., the HOV lanes will exist with the same rules that are in effect today. Hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 will continue to be allowed to use the HOV lanes without three people in the vehicle on the I-395 HOV lanes. For more information about the transition area just north of Edsall Road on I-395, please visit: 95ExpressLanes.com/transition

Drivers of Trucks, Commercial/18-Wheel Vehicles:  

  • Vehicles with more than two axles – including 18-wheel trucks – will not be permitted to access the 95 Express Lanes.
  • Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles may use the Express Lanes as toll paying customers or they may travel toll-free if they have an E-ZPass Flexset to HOV mode and three or more people in the vehicle.

Law Enforcement Officials: 

  • Local, state or federal law enforcement officials will not be exempt from toll and HOV requirements on the 95 Express Lanes unless in the direct pursuit of their duties, which does not include commuting to and from the workplace.
  • Law enforcement officials can contact the Express Lanes pre or post travel for trips they believe qualify as exempt.  Please contact customercare@expresslanes.com for more information.

Motorcycles: 

  • Motorcycles do not need an E-ZPass.

Unlike the existing HOV lanes, the rules of the road for the new 95 Express Lanes will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends.  Vehicles may not tow trailers on the 95 Express Lanes. HOV-3+ vehicles with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode, motorcycles and transit will have toll-free access to the Express Lanes at all times; drivers with fewer than three occupants can choose to pay a toll with E-ZPass to use the lanes on occasions when they need to get somewhere on time.

Get an E-ZPass:

Drivers can get an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex at more than 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Giant Food Stores, or at one of the E-ZPass Customer Service Centers, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at (877) 762-7824.  Visit www.ezpassva.com or call the Customer Service Center for more information – (877) 762-7824.

The 95 Express Lanes are being delivered through a public-private partnership between VDOT and Transurban with Fluor-Lane 95, LLC constructing the Express Lanes.  For more information on how I-95 drivers can use the 95 Express Lanes please visit  www.95ExpressLanes.com.  For up-to-date construction information please visit  www.vamegaprojects.com.

 

Truck Driver Dies in Highway Crash

Photo: Mary Davidson

A tractor-trailer driver was killed in a crash late Friday on Interstate 95 in Prince William County. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash Friday night (Nov. 7) in Prince William County. The crash occurred on Interstate 95 at the 149 mile marker.

 At 10:52 p.m., Virginia State Police received a call from a motorist about a disabled dump truck blocking the middle northbound lane of I-95 at the 149 mile marker. A trooper was immediately dispatched to assist the truck; however, within two minutes of the first call being received, a northbound tractor-trailer struck the dump truck. The impact of the crash caused both vehicles to overturn. 

 The driver of the tractor-trailer died at the scene. The driver of the dump truck was transported to Sentara Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The Virginia State Police Fairfax Division Crash Reconstruction Team and State Police Motor Carrier Safety Team responded to the scene to assist with the investigation. Northbound I-95 traffic was detoured off at Exit 148 onto Route 1 north. All I-95 lanes were reopened by 4:45 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 8).

 

 

Page 1 of 3912345...102030...Last »