Traffic & Transit
First on Potomac Local
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — When the Occoquan District Supervisor asked state officials to consider a small fix to ease a part of the region’s Interstate 95 traffic burden, she didn’t like the answer she received.
Ruth Anderson asked Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board to consider extending a fourth travel lane on Interstate 95 from the Occoquan River south to Prince William Parkway. After extending the 4th lane from Newington in Fairfax County south to the river in 2011, the Virginia Department of Transportation created a heavy bottleneck at the lane’s terminus at the busy Route 123/I-95 interchange.
Anderson stated that “at a minimum” a fourth lane extended south to the Parkway is a sensible solution as the six-lane road, and its highway interchange is better equipped than the Route 123 junction to handle more traffic. Officials in Prince William said they’ve long asked the state to widen the road to four travel lanes on the north and southbound sides through nearly the entire stretch of I-95 in Prince William County, from Occoquan to Dumfries.
Instead, the I-95 E-ZPass Express Lanes were built. Toll lanes in the center of the highway that regularly charge as much as $16 one way, and allows vehicles with three or more occupants to ride free. (more…)
A serious crash a occurred about 2:30 p.m. at the intersection of Sudley Road and Interstate 66.
Here’s info from Prince William police:
T-bone accident between small truck and another vehicle. Two patients transported unknown condition. One lane of Sudley NB blocked.
UPDATE: The DDI will not open this weekend. The opening date for the DDI will be announced once weather conditions needed for final striping can be confirmed.
This is the latest in a series of weather-related delays.
The weekend forecast from the National Weather Service office in Serling has multiple chances for winter weather:
Friday: Night A slight chance of rain before 1am, then a chance of rain, snow, and sleet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. Northeast wind 5 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Saturday: Freezing rain and sleet likely. Cloudy, with a high near 34. Northeast wind around 6 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Saturday: Night A chance of freezing rain and sleet. Cloudy, with a low around 30. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Sunday: A chance of rain and snow before 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Sunday: Night A chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
From a VDOT press release:
The public is invited to attend a design public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 25 to learn more about the I-95 Southbound Collector-Distributor Lanes ? Rappahannock River Crossing project, and to comment on the proposed design.
The design public hearing will be held:
Wednesday, Jan. 25
Fredericksburg Hospitality House & Conference Center
Madison and Monroe Rooms
2801 Plank Road (Central Park)
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Inclement weather date: Wednesday, February 1
Stop by anytime between 5-7 p.m. to review displays, proposed plans, and discuss questions with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff. No formal presentation will be given at the public hearing.
Written and oral comments will be accepted at the public hearing, and afterward through Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.
Comments may also be submitted by mailing them to Mr. Krishna Potturi, VDOT Project Manager, 87 Deacon Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22405.
Comments may be emailed to Krishna Potturi at Krishna.Potturi@VDOT.Virginia.Gov. Please reference “Rappahannock River Crossing Southbound public comment” in the subject line.
Project Background (more…)
Traffic ‘They placed a solid median on Purcell which keeps you from being able to turn left into the 7-Eleven’
We learned yesterday that the signage at Route 234 and Purcell Road is being redone and that U-turns will soon be allowed. But one reader wants to know why a concrete median was installed at the intersection preventing drivers from getting into a convenience store.
Submitted by Brian Eaton, of Prince William County:
In addition to your article about the horrible signage at the newly re-done Purcell rd and 234 intersection while you all are trying to get info about the issue is it possible to dig into and find out about why they placed a solid median on Purcell which keeps you from being able to turn left into the 7-11 from Purcell as well as preventing you from being able to turn left out of the 7-Eleven back onto Purcell?
They also have a “no U Turn” sign on 234 at the left turn lane where you turn onto Purcell so this makes it impossible to get into and out of that business for the residents like myself who live off Purcell and Kahns Rd who would normally go there. I see this as a huge issue for the business and the people in the neighborhood who would normally go there as well.
I suspected it was due to them putting an additional short run lane in each direction as to why they wanted to not allow the left turns, however there are numerous other locations in the county where you turn across 2 lanes to get into and out of businesses…a prime example would be right there on Purcell where the walgreens and food lion shopping center is there before you hit hoadly/dale blvd.
Got a traffic question, concern, or gripe? Send it to email@example.com and put “traffic” in the email subject line.
MANASSAS, Va. — A new report outlines the condition of streets and roads in Manassas City.
Of the 250 lane miles maintained by city crews, 148 of them are in poor or very poor condition and are in need of paving, according to the full report.
The new report identifies streets that will be paved over the next three years.
The city paid $23,647 for the report. The City has $700,000 per year for paving projects, according to city spokeswoman Patty Prince.
From the city’s report:
This summer, the City hired Fugro-Roadware, Inc. with a specially outfitted truck to drive the City’s streets and measure the pavement condition and evaluate the ride quality. The pavement condition has been used to prioritize the maintenance projects identified in the three-year Pavement Management Plan.
Based on this inspection, the current condition of the majority of the City’s roads indicates that the City should implement a pavement maintenance program that is as aggressive as the City’s finances permit. This inspection also indicates that the majority of our roads should be evaluated and monitored for maintenance.
The average pavement condition for our principal arterial roads is in the poor category, while all other roads have an average condition that is in the fair category.
On January 20, 2017, Inauguration Day, the Virginia Railway Express will operate on an “S Schedule,” which will offer reduced service from the normal operating schedule. Specific train times can be found at www.vre.org under “Schedules.” Only trains with an “S” above the train number on the schedule will operate.
VRE’s decision to reduce service was based on a number of factors, including expected rail congestion in and around Union Station due to the increase in the number of Amtrak trains, projected delays resulting from increased security across the network, and the Federal Government’s decision to make the day a holiday for federal workers within the National Capital Region.
Traffic Updated: ‘Can VDOT improve the signage and signals to clarify turns on red …on Purcell Road at VA Route 234 to avoid confusion from drivers?’
Submitted by Daniel Foose, of Prince William County:
With recent completion of construction on Purcell Road, there are now three lanes instead of two where Purcell Road ends at VA Route 234. Two of the three are right turn lanes on Purcell.
At the signal, the leftmost right turn lane is marked with a “red light” signal indication and a sign that says “No Turn on Red from This Lane” and the rightmost right turn lane is marked with a “right red arrow” signal indication.
According to the Virginia Driver’s Manual, published by the DMV, “Virginia law prohibits right and left turns at red arrow lights” unless “signs are posted at the intersection that read ‘Right on Red Arrow After Stop’ or ‘Left on Red Arrow After Stop.’” (source: ). Both signals display “right green arrow” indications.
It is rather curious, then, that VDOT has chosen to display the signals and signage in this convoluted manner, rather than placing a general sign stating “No Turn on Red” if the intention were to prohibit all turns on red.
If the intention were to, instead, allow right turns on red in the rightmost right lane, it would be better to have signage or signals that clearly indicate that one can do so. This is how most drivers appear to be treating the lane, though the “right red arrow” signal makes this illegal.
Can VDOT improve the signage and signals to clarify turns on red in the rightmost right turn lane on Purcell Road at VA Route 234 to avoid confusion from drivers?
Got a traffic question, concern, or gripe? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “traffic” in the email subject line.
This is a Prince William County Department of Transportation road project, not VDOT.
Here’s a statement from the department’s director Rick Canizales:
“We are literally working on resigning the entire intersection. Right now there are no u-turns allowed on Rt 234, but that will change and signage to advise about right turns on red will be included at the same time. This will be happening within 30 days, awaiting VDOT approval and sign manufacturing.”
From Virginia State Police:
Virginia state Police troopers remain busy this evening as the temperatures continue to drop and roadways remain frozen. Virginians are encouraged to avoid traveling overnight and on through tomorrow morning due to the continuing and very serious threat of black ice and treacherous road conditions. Any roads that thawed earlier today due to being cleared will refreeze tonight. Stuck, disabled vehicles continue to be the greatest problem on Virginia’s highways…
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, State Police have only one reported traffic fatality. Fortunately, the majority of crashes have involved only damage to vehicles.
From midnight Saturday through 6 p.m. Saturday, Virginia State Police have responded to 527 traffic crashes and 686 disabled vehicles statewide. During the same time period, Virginia State Police have received a total of 2,082 calls for service.
As of 6:15 p.m., troopers are still on scene of 16 traffic crashes and 23 disabled vehicles statewide.
Division II–Culpeper (Fredericksburg/Culpeper/Warrenton/Harrisonburg/Winchester)
Division VII-Fairfax (Prince William/Loudoun/Arlington/Alexandria/Fairfax)
Submitted by Prince William County:
Commuters and residents who travel the Route 28 corridor will be happy to know that the project that included the widening of Route 28 and the Vint Hill Road realignment is now complete. The Board of County Supervisors will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, Jan. 9, at 11 a.m. to officially open the road.
The project realigned Vint Hill Road so that the new, four-lane, divided road intersects with Route 28 at Bristow Village Boulevard. The project also widened Route 28 for about a mile between Linton Hall Road and the realigned Vint Hill Road. Both roads now have shared use paths that run beside them.
The project, which was funded by a combination of county, state and federal funds and completed under budget, included asphalt paving, marking pavement, traffic signs and traffic signal installation, sound walls construction, rock blasting, utility relocation and placing a stormwater management pond.
UPDATE: Due to weather, the DDI will not open this weekend. If weather conditions are favorable, the DDI will open at 9 a.m. Jan. 14, with an overnight closure beginning at 8 p.m. Jan. 13.
The DDI was originally supposed to open last month. This is the second time the opening has been delayed.
The text of an email from Occoquan District Supervisor Ruth Anderson to Prince William County Public Works Director Thomas Brunn:
“A few weeks ago, I was alerted to a problem with “lack of lighting” at the Chinn Center bus stop shelter……….both in early mornings and after dark in the evenings. I did meet with Perrin from PRTC after dark one evening to confirm that it is a problem. I do know from a previous experience that there are some folks who “hang out” in this area…so, good lighting is needed.
I checked with PRTC hoping they could add some light inside the shelter. Could someone assess if it is possible to change the direction of the light that is already on the Aquatic Center building? If it is possible…it might solve the problem. If not……….could Public Works work with PRTC to see if one of the other options is workable? I’m not certain how the transfer of budget money works for something like this…or, who would take the lead.”
A response to Anderson from (now retired) parks and recreation director Debbie Andrew:
“The stop is on park property, right out in front of the Chinn Center. I will ask staff to make a recommendation for resolving this. It might be as easy as re aiming the lights that are already there. I am going to forward this to Gary Rzepecki for resolution.”
The problem of poor lighting at the Chinn Aquatics Center PRTC Bus Shelter was quickly resolved with a joint effort by Parks and Recreation, Public Works and PRTC working together. Parks and Rec installed a new light that shines directly into the Bus Shelter (photos attached). The problem came up initially at one of our Old Bridge Rd. Congestion Think Tank meetings. Although it was not an issue directly related to solving congestion…we acted on it because for public transit to be “user friendly”, it must be safe all along the routes…including the bus shelters. PRTC came up with recommendations, I sent them to Public Works who in-turn worked with Parks and Rec to install lighting.
— Prince William Co PD (@PWCPoliceDept) January 3, 2017
One person was flown to a hospital following the incident. A white powder found at the scene was determined to be laundry detergent, said Prince William police spokesman Nathan Probus.
More as we have it.
UPDATE: Route 1 is now open. Drive safely.
— Prince William Co PD (@PWCPoliceDept) January 3, 2017
Pile driving will be taking place along Route 1 for construction of the new bridge over Marumsco Creek just north of Marys Way.
The pile driving is scheduled to occur between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Friday, Dec. 30 and Tuesday, Jan. 3 through Friday, Jan. 6.
Crews will be monitoring noise levels associated with the pile driving in order to minimize disruption to nearby businesses and residences.
The work is part of the Route 1 widening project, which will add a third lane in each direction between Marys Way and Annapolis Way. The project is scheduled for completion in fall 2019.
Submitted by Prince Willaim Conservation Alliance:
On December 7, the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board unanimously approved all Prince William roads proposed for Virginia Scenic Byway status, a first for our county.
These new Scenic Byways boast 11 nationally recognized historic sites, two state listed historic sites, mountain vistas, and minimally visible development.
Two of the roads, John Marshall Highway and Waterfall Road, connect to existing Virginia Byways in Fauquier County. All provide an attractive driving experience and showcase the beauty of Prince William’s Rural Crescent.
* Waterfall Road from the Fauquier County line east to the intersection of Antioch Rd.
* Antioch Road from the Route 601 intersection south to Route 55
* John Marshall Highway from Route 681 to the Fauquier County line
* Aden Road between Route 619 and Route 28
* Bristow Road between Joplin Road (Route 619) and Route 28
* Joplin Road – between Bristow Road and 1-95
Virginia Scenic Byways are a part of the state’s tourism promotional strategy to stimulate local economies and included in Virginia’s Map of Scenic Roads, the Virginia Outdoors Plan and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Scenic Byways website.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Despite the majority of the Virginia Railway Express Board leaning toward killing a proposed commuter rail extension to Haymarket, Chairman Gary Skinner decided not to take a vote on the matter.
Skinner instead took an informal poll of Board members Friday morning on whether to continue studying an 11-mile expansion of VRE service from Manassas to Gainesville and Haymarket or to adopt an alternative by relocating the railroad’s Broad Run station about a mile east, closer to Manassas City.
“You can take back to your Board tell them the majority of the [VRE Operations] Board sits on the Broad Run extension,” Skinner told fellow Board member and Prince William County Supervisor Marty Nohe.
Nohe said he spoke for his Board, the Prince William Board of Supervisors who say they need more time to review what development could someday be built in the areas of Innovation Park outside Manassas, in Gainesville, and Haymarket.
Relocating the Broad Run Station would increase ridership. But an extension to Gainesville could increase economic development opportunities in Prince William County.
“Should we relocate Broad Run? This is not the only question we on the Board of Supervisors are going to ask,” said Nohe. “It’s been suggested that an extension to Innovation [Park] or Haymarket or Gainesville would have, on balance, a bigger impact on county’s econmic development, and that is a factor we need to take into consideration.”
The Broad Run relocation alternative, recommended by VRE staff and placed on today’s Operations Board agenda for a vote, would move the station at the Manassas Regional Airport to the area near Godwin Drive and Route 28.
The old station and its parking lot would be replaced by an expanded rail storage yard, which would allow VRE to park and operate 22 trains on the Manassas line — up from the today’s 16-train operation.
If VRE is extended to Gainesville, but not Haymarket, the Broad Run Station would remain in its current location. A new rail storage yard could be built near Innovation Park. Doing both — relocating Broad Run and extending VRE to Gainesville — is not expected to grow ridership.
“Building new stations doesn’t grow ridership. Running more trains does because you open up more seats and attract new riders,” added Nohe.
Nohe hopes the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will weigh its options and make a decision by early January, in time for the next VRE Operations Board meeting.
Putting more trains on the Manassas line will open up seats for commuters in Fairfax County whom today may choose not to use VRE because trains are full by the time they at the Burke Station.
“In Fairfax, we’re built out and we’re ready to go. The train is leaving the station, and we need to make a decision now,” said John Cook, a Fairfax County Supervisor who serves on the VRE Board.
A VRE study found that an extension to Gainesville or Haymarket would not attract as many riders between now and 2040 as originally anticipated. Extending VRE to Haymarket could cost as much as 4660, million, about $40,000 per new rider. The project would not be eligible for federal funding as transit officials had hoped.
“We don’t believe, given the numbers, that we have the extension would be eligible for federal funding, and that was a key assumption of our plan,” said VRE’s Christine Hoffner, who is leading the Gainesville-Haymarket Extension Study.
HAYMARKET, Va. — The opening of the new diverging diamond interchange is delayed until January 7 due to weather, according to a statement from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The state held a series of meetings to teach drivers how to use the interchange, which places traffic on the opposite side of the road and removes all left turns.
Prince William County supervisors will vote December 13 on a resolution that could freeze Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service and block future expansion. If approved, the resolution would prioritize local funding for new road construction instead of expanding commuter rail service.
The resolution is based on the results of the Phase I study of the proposed Gainesville-Haymarket extension. The numbers caught VRE’s staff by surprise. The projected benefits are far lower than expected.
The projected costs of building 11 miles of new track and three new stations, at Innovation, Gainesville, and Haymarket exceed half-a-billion dollars. VRE personnel have consistently claimed that Federal and state grants can somehow cover those one-time costs, but acknowledge that the annual operating costs are the key constraint.
Local jurisdictions subsidize 50% of the annual operating costs. Each rider on a VRE train pays only half the cost when they purchase the ticket; the other half is funded by the taxpayers.
Prince William County decided in 2016 to use a portion of its Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVYTA) funding, generated by extra taxes approved by the General Assembly in 2013, to pay for its share. County staff are concerned that the VRE subsidy could grow to the point that the county would have to find another source, beyond the NVTA funding, to match new road construction grants from state and Federal sources.
The Phase I study revealed that the cost-effective alternative for VRE is to relocate the Broad Run station at the end of the Manassas Line, moving it to Godwin Road. It would attract over 2,500 more round-trip passengers each day.
Expanding VRE west to Haymarket would be inconsistent with land use plans to preserve the Rural Area, and would attract only 555 more round-trip passengers/day compared to relocating Broad Run. Local operating costs for the Haymarket alternative would require an additional $9 million/year for just those extra 555 passengers, an annual subsidy of over $16,000/year per passenger.
VRE cannot stay at the current Broad Run station and add more trains. Relocating the station to Godwin Road and removing the existing passenger platform would allow VRE to expand the railyard.
Without relocation, VRE could not add the planned three additional trains in morning and evening rush hours, and park/service them at Broad Run. Without railyard expansion, VRE could never grow in the future to become a transit system offering service throughout the day, rather than just at rush hour.
The “do nothing” alternative might save money in the short run, but the solution to traffic congestion in Prince William/Manassas/Manassas Park is not just “build more roads.” Passenger rail is a key option for commuters, especially as the costs skyrocket for using I-66 after tolls are added.
Expanding VRE to offer service during the day is also a key option for attracting businesses offering high-paying jobs to locate south of the Occoquan River. Those businesses depend upon workers living in the urban core, and those workers depend upon transit. Economic development of Manassas Park, Manassas, and Prince William would be enhanced by Transit Oriented Development around VRE stations, but that development depends upon increasing the number of trains running throughout the day.
The Phase I study shows that it would be fiscally irresponsible to support extending VRE to Innovation, Gainesville, or Haymarket. The “do nothing with VRE, build roads instead” alternative proposed by County staff would be short-sighted as well.
On December 13, the Board of County Supervisors should support VRE adding more trains rather than more track, and endorse further study in Phase II of the option to relocate the Broad Run station.
GAINESVILLE, Va. — It doesn’t look good for commuters in Haymarket and Gainesville hoping to trade the highway for the rails.
The cost to extend Virginia Railway Express service 11 miles west from Manassas to Gainesville and Haymarket appears to outweigh the benefits. The price tag to build the extension to Haymarket is estimated to be as much as $660 million, with the project is expected to bring in a total of only 16,460 new riders by 2040.
Factoring in the combined capital and operating costs, the project would cost an estimated $16.61 per rider who would use the line and about $40,000 per each new rider gained by 2040. It would also cost $45 million annually to run.
“We were a little surprised,” said VRE’s Christine Hoeffner, who is leading the commuter railroad’s Gainesville / Haymarket expansion study team. “We thought we would see an increase in the number of anticipated riders with an extension all the way to Haymarket.”
The projected capital costs are lowered a bit if VRE were to choose not to extend the train to Haymarket. If VRE built only one station at Innovation Park, or one or two stations in Gainesville, down from the proposed four, Capital estimates for up to three stations on the line hover steadily between $570 and $630 million.
Limitations on development in Haymarket and Gainesville set by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors when it created the Rural Crescent in 1998 and similar policies in neighboring Fauquier County will limit the number of new homes to be built. The commuter railroad would rely on growth in these areas to attract new riders.
The proposed extension also comes at the same time the Virginia Department of Transportation next year will begin construction on a project to widen Interstate 66 and add E-ZPass Express Lanes. For the first time, commuters on I-66 will be able to pay a toll to get out of traffic, or carpool in the lanes for free while riding in vehicles of three or more occupants.
Like all transportation projects, the 11-mile VRE extension comes down to money. The project would be eligible to have 50% of its construction cost paid with federal funds. But VRE leaders are pessimistic due to the project’s high cost and low return on the number of new riders.
“This is a competitive funding process, and with the extension, we don’t believe it would be successful going through the federal funding process,” said Hoeffner.
With a lack of federal funds, VRE would be ever more reliant on state and local sources of financing.
“Prince William County has the highest subsidy in VRE of any other jurisdiction,” said Supervisor Jeanine Lawson. “We cannot pay for the extension because that $6 million additional tax dollars coming out. That’s a hefty price to pay for such a short extension.”
Moving the Broad Run Station
Instead of a VRE extension in Prince William, the option of relocating the Broad Run Station at the Manassas Airport about a mile and a half east closer to the city remains popular. The relocated station would sit on the Prince William County / Manassas City line, and it would serve Innovation Park in the county and the soon-to-be-developed Gateway project on Godwin Drive in the city.
A rail yard at Broad Run would be expanded after the station is moved to make room more locomotives and railcars, dubbed “rolling stock.” VRE could then increase the number of trains that serve the Manassas line from 16t to 22 per day, clearing the way for a possible midday shuttle train service between Manassas and Alexandria. For the first time, VRE would act like a Metro train with bi-directional service during the day if the shuttle is offered.
“If you think about how transportation nodes, like metro, there at facilities where people can get on and off, they’re important. That’s why they’re expanding the silver line to Dulles and out into Loudoun [County], said Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish. “VRE, though it’s not metro, it does provide the opportunity for people to get into D.C.”
With a mix of new townhomes, condos, office, retail, spaces, and a planned 125-room hotel slated to be built at Gateway, adding a VRE station to the mix could be a catalyst for more neighborhood growth. Residential and commercial development in the Lorton area of Fairfax County was spurred, in part, by the VRE station, Hoffner adds.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Manassas Gateway project is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will have their say on whether or not to endorse the VRE extension at a meeting at 2 p.m. the same day.
The VRE Operations Board will meet on December 16 to make their final recommendation how to proceed, with building the full extension or relocating the Broad Run station being options on the table. Hoeffner and her Gainesville / Haymarket Extension study team will continue working through 2017 to examine the alternatives selected by the VRE Operations Board members.