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Traffic & Transit

Move over 95 Express, toll lanes wanted on I-66

Dulles Metrorail Megaproject underway at Rt. 66 and 267, Falls Church.

New lanes will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week

There’s a new plan for Interstate 66 that looks a lot like what just happened on I-95.

Virginia transportation officials want to build more of those famous “managed lanes,” or toll lanes between U.S. 15 in Haymarket in Prince William to the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, just outside Tysons Corner. Two new lanes would be added to each side of the highway and, like the 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes, drivers will pay a toll 24 hours a day to use them. The new lanes would be free to drivers with three or more occupants in their vehicles.

Officials identified this 25-mile “outside the Beltway” stretch of highway as their target improvement zone because federal laws prevent I-66 from being widened inside the Capital Beltway. Arlington residents saw to that when the highway was built.

“For all of us who have ever traveled I-66, w know we have once choice: congestion. And, that congestion is getting worse,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton.

A round of winter weather forced the postponement the first few in a series presentations held to educate residents on the proposed changes. The agency held a meeting in Prince William and in Fairfax the past two nights, respectively.

After building toll lanes on the Beltway, and opening new toll lanes last month on I-95, VDOT has learned a thing or two about holding these public meetings. Display boards were set up in a large room, transportation experts posted around the room, and a court reporter made available to anyone who wanted to confess their concerns.

New commuter lots will spur slugging, officials hope

As to how the road will be built, the early favored design appears to be adding two new lanes in each direction with the lanes in the center of the highway, much like the E-ZPass Express Lanes are on the Beltway. The early favored plan also calls for the addition of new park and ride lots that would be served by a new bus rapid transit system in Prince William and Fairfax counties.

The new lots, officials hope, will spur slugging – a free, user-organized carpooling system in use on I-95 and 395 since the 1970s, and never yet implemented on I-66. Options to expand Virginia Railway Express or Metro along the corridor as part of this project don’t seem likely.

“For those asking ‘why not Metro,’ we’re not saying ‘no’ to Metro. We’re saying ‘not today,” said Hamilton.

In traffic congestion hot spots on I-66 in Fairfax County between Routes 29 and 50, a fourth auxiliary lane will be added as part of the project to allow drivers more room to merge on and off the highway.’

Land sits in the way

VDOT must take property to make this new vision for I-66 a reality. Segment one of the project between U.S. 15 in Haymarket and Route 28 in Centreville has 430 parcels of land standing in the way of development. Segment two between Routes 28 and 50 has 108, and segment three between Route 50 and the Beltway has 750 homes. About 70 families could be displaced.

The private firm, Australia-based Transurban was hired to build and maintain the E-ZPass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-95. The company also maintains the Pochohantas Parkway in Richmond.

State officials guarantee this highway expansion, like the previous two in Northern Virginia, will be a public-private partnership – a contract that will be awarded to a company that completes the state’s bidding process. Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board will meet Jan. 18 to discuss what they want in a qualified bidder for the project, and a request for proposals should go out sometime this summer.

Construction of the new lanes is slated to begin as early as 2017. The new lanes will not open before 2021.

Popular ‘Attack the Fat Challenge’ starts Monday at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center

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Do you know about the Attack the Fat Challenge? It’s one of the most popular, effective, and fun weight-loss programs at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center
 
It’s open to anyone, at any fitness level.
 
Robin Frey is a fitness program coordinator, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and the director of Freedom Attack the Fat Challenge at Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in Manassas. We spoke with her to get the 
 
Frey

Frey

What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?

 
“It’s more of a full spectrum weight loss program and it runs for eight weeks…it’s based on focusing on weight loss but the overall effort that we do is that we want to promote and create lifestyle changes, not just during the eight weeks. For most people it’s just the starting point. A lot of people do it repeatedly because it works for them…and depending on the amount of weight they wish to lose, it may not happen in eight weeks.”   
 
What do participants do while in Attack The Fat Challenge? 
 
“Well actually the whole concept is they do train…and it’s based on percentage of weight loss…we make it a challenge so that it has some competitive edge to it but the overall focus is just to create a balance of accountability…to continue with fitness efforts for health, not necessarily for fitness. In other words, this is based on health and wellness, getting people appropriate nutrition and just trying to create a consistent effort with lifestyle change, it’s long term.”
 
 How much does the program cost?
 
“It [the program] breaks down to 20 dollars a session and the total cost is $480 but you’re getting 24 sessions, 24 full one-hour sessions…then in addition to that they get the support through nutrition tips and guidance…and body composition testing as well.” Frey also mentioned that there is an additional cost to non-members of the Freedom Center. 
 
 Attack-the-Fat-2015-flyer-791x1024How long does the challenge last? 
 
“Participants train three days a week with a trainer so it’s three one-hour sessions so they’re basically getting 24 training sessions as a group within that eight weeks, three times a week. In addition to that support that we offer is through our smart lab for evidence based testing for body composition or those types of things and also we do weekly weigh-ins”.
 
Is the Attack The Fat Challenge a seasonal program? 
 
“It’s twice a year, typically we do it  in February, March and then again in September.”
 
Is it too late to sign up? 
 
“The Attack The Fat Challenge  starts on Monday, Feb. 2. Registration does require you to be registered prior to the program but we work with people as well.”
 
Why did Frey get involved with the Attack The Fat Challenge?
 
“Well I started it, actually it’s been six years running now. I just felt that there was a need here at the Freedom Center to create programming in small groups that could be something that could bring more of an effort of accountability to each other, that tends to help. People can do training all the time but when they have other people depending on them to be part of their team, their group, it’s very successful. The success rate is much higher as far as them making the sessions, having to be responsible for that weekly weigh-in and then they bond and create groups that continue to train after that. We just didn’t have anything happening here in that capacity in programming.”
 
How does the Attack The Fat Challenge stand apart from similar programs?
 
“We were probably the original in this area. I know other facilities have programs similar to what we do, it’s a basic concept of accountability, through training, weigh-ins, and nutrition information…it’s just been very, very successful for us here. This our sixth year I believe, might even be longer. It tends to work. We provide a variety of workouts through different types of training. We may have them in the pool, TRX suspension training, circuit training, functional core…in other words we do a little bit of everything that we offer here…within those 24 sessions they’re getting a very large variety of different modalities of training.”
 
Why do people sign up?
 
Participants will] form groups and become friends and bond in that respect and want to continue to do it again, that kind of thing….plus we’ve had people that have lost over 100 pounds…it’s been very effective overall.” 

Keep Reading…

I-95 North near Dale City closing briefly for sign removal

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

This Wednesday night, Jan. 28, until Thursday morning, Jan. 29, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will close multiple lanes on I-95 North near the truck rest area, mile marker 154.5, just south of Dale City (exit 156), leading up to a full road closure for up to 15 minutes after midnight.

A single lane will be closed after 9 p.m., followed by a second lane at 10 p.m. All lanes will close for up to 15 minutes between 1 and 2 a.m. These closures are needed to replace an overhead sign.

Message signs will be posted on I-95 north to advise motorists of the closures and Virginia State Police will be on-site for traffic control.

-Information from VDOT.

Come see the Capitol Steps at Hylton Arts Center & help Cecily replace the asbestos-laden siding on her home

When Cecily was in her 20’s she immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua.

capitol stepsTaking a job at Home Depot in Springfield, Cecily met her future husband, Eddy, who had emigrated from Palau. Cecily and Eddy married in 2008 and now share their Woodbridge home with their two children, Cecily’s mother, and grandmother.

A tight-knit family, everyone pitches in to help. Cecily operates a daycare from her home while also attending school at Northern Virginia Community College.

Cecily’s mom is a certified nursing assistant with a job in Washington, D.C. Eddy continues to work at Home Depot and he and Cecily’s mom and grandmother all help care for the children, too.

Habitat for Humanity Prince William County is looking forward to giving this hard working family a hand up with much-needed critical home repairs that will make their home safer, more comfortable and affordable.

Habitat for Humanity will replace the boiler that is original to the home, replace asbestos siding from three sides of the exterior and replace non-functional windows throughout the home. The deck must be rebuilt for safety. And the home will be weatherized for energy efficiency.

Habitat for Humanity thanks you for your support of the Capitol Steps event and welcomes you to join them on their work sites as a volunteer!

To learn more, visit Habitat for Humanity’s website at habitatpwc.org.

Mark your calendars for Laughs & Love benefit February 21 at 7 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Not only are we having the hilarious Capitol Steps come to the beautiful Hylton Center, but our Rotary Club has proudly partnered with Casa, Habitat for Humanity, Rainbow Center Therapeutic Riding, Calling All Souls and Transitional Housing Barn as the beneficiaries this year.

The goal?

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors. These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place we can be proud of.

They cannot do it alone!

To order tickets go to Hyltoncenter.org or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event, please contact Steve Chapman, steve@washmydeck.com by Feb 10.

The preceding post was sponsored by Rotary Club of Bull Run.

I-66 meetings canceled, rescheduled due to snow

Stafford resident Thomas Jackson (left) looks over a VDOT project that will add 1,000 commuter parking spaces in the Staffordboro Commuter Lot off Va. 610 in North Stafford. Project representatives like Oliver Boehm (right) were available to answer any questions residents had during the design public meeting held at Moncure Elementary School on Wednesday night. (Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

Snow prompted the cancelation of two public meetings designed to provide residents more information on what Virginia officials plan to do to Interstate 66.

A meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. at Bull Run Elementary School in Centreville is canceled. It comes after a meeting scheduled last night in Vienna was also canceled due to snow.

Meetings are still scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday that residents may attend.

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

Weather permitting, there are still two opportunities to attend an I-66 Public Information Meeting this week.  Meetings are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015, at Battlefield High School in Haymarket from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. (with a snow date on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, if necessary)
  • Thursday, January 29, 2015, at the VDOT Northern Virginia District Office in Fairfax from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

If you cannot attend in person, the meeting on Thursday, January 29, 2015, will be shown live at Transform66.org between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

There will also be two meetings next week due to yesterday’s and tonight’s cancellations.  The make-up dates and locations are:

  • Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at Oakton High School in Vienna from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, February 5, 2015, at the VDOT Northern Virginia District Office in Fairfax from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Please visit the project website at Transform66.org for more information.

Fire crews called to gas leak on Eustace Road

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11:18 a.m. 

A contractor laying fiber optic cable in struck a gas line this morning.

Stafford fire and rescue crews were called to the area of Eustace Road and Legal Court just before 10 a.m. A boring device stuck the line, which is believed to have been at least two inches in diameter, sending the smell of natural gas through a residential neighborhood.

“We arrived on scene, monitored the area, established a hot zone, and then we determined that there was no risked to any of the homeowners in the area,” said Stafford Assistant Chief Mark Doyle.

Stafford sheriff’s deputies blocked streets and neighbors were told to stay inside their homes. The gas company found the broken line and is now in the process of repairing it. The fix could take hours to repair, but streets should be reopened to drivers before noon, according to Doyle.

Fire crews also checked area storm drains for the residual smell of natural gas following the rupture.

10:39 a.m. 

A gas line was struck this morning in the area of Eustace Road and Legal Court in North Stafford.

The leak sprang about 9:50 a.m. Stafford fire and rescue crews were called to the scene.

There’s no word on what caused the leak or if anyone was injured.

We’ll bring you more on this story as we have it.

VDOT wants to transform I-66 corridor, plans public meetings

Drivers headed south on U.S. 29 in Gainesville now use an elevated bridge to cross train tracks. The new separated interchange is expected to stop frequent train vs. car collisions in the area. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Transportation officials in Virginia say they can improve Interstate 66.

The idea is to make a 25-mile stretch of the highway between Haymarket and the Capital Beltway a multi-modal corridor. This means adding express toll lanes like the I-95 E-ZPass Express Lanes that opened last month and new high-frequency bus service to the corridor.

Some key interchanges along the highway also need to be reevaluated to improve transportation along the corridor.

Now, officials plan a series of public meetings to solicit feedback on the roadway project. The meeting locations listed below: 

Monday, Jan. 26, 2015

Oakton High School

2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181

Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

Bull Run Elementary School

15301 Lee Highway, Centreville, VA 20121

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015

Battlefield High School

15000 Graduation Drive, Haymarket, VA 20169

Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

VDOT Northern Virginia District, 1st Floor, Occoquan Room

4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030

Each meeting will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. A brief presentation will be held at 7 p.m. during each meeting, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

VRE trains from Manassas stopped after pedestrian struck

121212 VRE

Update 

Police in Manasssas released the following information about the pedestrian who was struck this morning along railroad tracks in the city. 

Here’s the latest info: 

Pedestrian Struck by Train

At approximately 3:20AM on January 22, 2015, an adult male was struck by a train on the 8400 block of Kao Cir just south of Osbourn Park High School.  The victim, whose name is withheld pending notification of next of kin, was pronounced deceased at the scene.  No foul play is suspected at this time.

7:10 a.m. 

6 a.m. 

5:40 a.m. 

Riders on Virginia Railway Express from Manassas could be delayed this morning.

The transit agency stated via Twitter that it appears a pedestrian was struck by a train.

With the Metro option in place, regular VRE riders can now use their VRE ticket to board the Metro subway system to get to work. The closest Metro station near Manassas is the Vienna station on the Orange line in Fairfax County.

We’ll have more on this as it develops.

ANU students take MLK Day, register to vote in Prince William County

Vote, MLK day, election

In recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday and a day of service, Medical Assistant students from the Northern Virginia Campus of American National University collectively registered to vote in Prince William County. 

Their inspiration came not only from Dr. Martin Luther King, but also from the ANU Mission Statement, which states, “Graduates of American National University should understand and practice their responsibilities to their families, their fellow men and their communities by becoming effective and contributing citizens.”

Led by their instructor, MJ Williams of the Roanoke Campus, the students committed to volunteering in the community and becoming informed voters.

Woodbridge woman killed in crash on Beltway

Photo: Mary Davidson

A woman from Woodbridge was killed on the Capital Beltway this afternoon.

Here’s the latest in press release from Virginia State Police:

A Woodbridge woman was killed Sunday (January 18) in a two car vehicle crash in Fairfax County.  The crash occurred 1:10 p.m. at I-495 westbound 100 feet west of Route 613.

Virginia State Police Trooper A. M. Hoye investigated the crash.

A 2001 Nissan Pathfinder was coming onto I-495 west from the Van Dorn Ramp when the driver lost control and struck a 2007 BMW that was traveling west on I-495.  The 2001 Nissan upon impact overturned partially ejecting the driver.   

The driver of the Nissan, Dinora Del Carmen Guzman, 49, of Woodbridge, Virginia died at the scene; she was not wearing a seatbelt.  The driver of the BMW, Anthony Adams of Lorton was not injured.

Speed is being considered a factor in the crash.

Gas prices fall below $2 per gallon in Stafford

stafford gas 199

Gas for $1.99 – are they out of their minds?

Not in North Stafford where the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas fell below $2 on Tuesday. That’s a drop considering six months ago the price for the same was $3.55 in the same neighborhood, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Fuel Price Finder.

At some gas stations on Route 1 in Stafford, the price fell even lower to $1.97 per gallon at a FasMart and Wawa stations.

The cheapest place to buy gas in Woodbridge on Tuesday was a Wawa at Daniel Stuart Square at Route 1 and Opitz Boulevard, priced at $2.03 per gallon. The area gas price average was higher at $2.13 per gallon.

It’s important to note that the Fuel Price Finder doesn’t list prices for price clubs Costco and Sams Club that normally have cheaper gas than roadside service stations.

011315 fuel forecast

Nationally, the average price for a gallon of unleaded fuel is $2.14. It’s the lowest national average price since May 4, 2009.

Fuel prices should continue to decline, according to the short-term outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Prices will remain low, but creep back up in time for the summer vacation driving season in July to a national average of $2.33 per gallon, according to the forecast.

Consumption of fuel has increased to 9.2 million barrels of oil per day in the U.S. in December. Government officials said that the number should increase to 9.5  billion barrels per day in 2016, putting the U.S. on track to near to the all-time high of 9.6 billion barrels of oil per day not seen since 1970.

Used tires are mysterious. New Cooper Starfire Tires cost about the same

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Cooper Starfire Tires offer superior life and performance for just a few dollars more than the cost of a used tire

Instead of buying a used tire that you might have to replace sooner than later, consider a new Cooper Starfire Tire.

It’s a great option for someone looking for an inexpensive tire that will help keep their vehicle on the road longer and their occupants of the car safe.

Cooper Starfire Tires are available for multiple makes and models of vehicles. They’re manufactured in Asia and designed in the U.S. to compete with premium brands without the higher price tag of comparable tires.

The tire offers high-performance ability, improved grip and road handling, with an improved overall tire life.

Cooper Starfire Tires are great for drivers who may have purchased a vehicle that is more costly to maintain than first thought, but are still looking for a quality tire that delivers great handling and a quiet performance on the road. With the Starfire option available, drivers should think before purchasing a used tire.

Typically, drivers have no idea what type of life the used tire had before they obtain it. Used tires could be six to eight years old, perhaps older, and have spent the majority of their life as a used tire strapped to a vehicle. While used tires may look good, the rubber can be worn down or degraded after years of sitting idle. Some used tires may also be missing tread and show signs of wear.

Purchasing a Starfire Tire costs about $30 more than what a used tire might cost, but a new tire, on average, will provide three times the life of a single used tire. The price of a Starfire Tire is up to 30% less than other newer tires.  There are many Starfire Tires produced for SUVs, trucks, and the popular Honda Civic and Toyota Camry models.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia is now an authorized Cooper Tire dealer and offers a full line of Starfire Tires.

VDOT to drivers: Delay your Monday morning commute

Roads in Northern Virginia pretreated for ice, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Drivers are urged to delay their trek into work Monday by at least a few hours to allow highway crews the opportunity to continue to treat roads during the morning rush hour.

“We ask drivers to plan ahead and to use extreme caution if they must drive,” stated Branco Vlacich, VDOT assistant district administrator for maintenance in a press release. “The pretreatment crews have laid will help, but with pavement temperatures below freezing, we will need to treat icy conditions repeatedly during this hours-long storm.”

About 1,450 trucks will be out on area roadways overnight treating roads throughout the area. The rain is expected to begin any time after midnight, and is expected to freeze on contact with the ground surface creating slippery conditions are expected during the early morning hours Monday. Much of the freezing rain is expected to changeover to all rain by late morning.

Highway crews spent time over the weekend pre-treating major roads in Prince William, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Arlington counties, in advance of the storm.

VDOT says bridges and highway on-ramps are especially prone to freezing. Ramps at the Springfield interchange, at Interstate 66 and Route 29, and at the Capital Beltway and Route 1 in Alexandria were all treated with a special mixture of magnesium chloride.

Major routes like Fairfax County Parkway, and Routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50, and 123 were all treated with a salt brine mix.

Drivers are urged to check VDOT’s website for road conditions prior to beginning their trip on Monday

Teen wins NYC trip with “Say I Won’t” video with Manassas City Police Department

#SayIWont, manassas city police department

Captain Trey Lawler and Chief Doug Keen stand behind Mark Johnson.

In December, City of Manassas resident Mark Johnson had an idea for the #SayIWont video contest put on by Grammy Award winner Lecrae Moore and Reach Records. The video contest asked participants to make a 15 second video showing how “you’re not scared to be different.” Mark’s video featured members of the Manassas City Police Department.

Mark Johnson had the idea, in light of current happenings in other areas of the country, to show a positive relationship between the Manassas City Police Department and a City resident. His video shows him coming into MCPD Roll Call and encouraging the officers about to go out in the field.

Mark went to Osbourn High School in the City of Manassas. After a rocky start, including being expelled from school, Mark went back to Osbourn to finish high school with an advanced diploma. When asked why he chose the Manassas City Police Department to feature in his video, Mark said he remembered the great conversations he had in high school with Officer Cahill and he used that contact to make the video happen. 

On Dec. 12, while attending the Manassas City Police Department holiday luncheon, Mark received a phone call from Reach Records saying he had won the national video contest and had won a trip to New York City to accompany Lecrae Moore to a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We are honored that Mark chose the MCPD to feature in his video,” said Chief Doug Keen from the Manassas City Police Department. “Mark Johnson’s video sheds a positive light on relationships with police officers and those relationships are something we want to promote in the City of Manassas. We congratulate Mark on his award winning video.”

Johnson traveled to New York City in December.

Woodbridge Route 1 power line plan buried? Supervisors to vote again on controversial issue

U.S. 1 at Occoquan Road in North Woodbridge.

Measure would move $12 million away from project, killing it

 

Spend $12 million to bury power lines in Woodbridge? Not so fast.

Prince Willaim Count officials in late 2013 approved funds to bury power lines lines along Route 1 in Woodbridge, between Mary’s Way and the Occoquan River. The lines would be placed underground in conjunction with an effort to widen that same portion of the road from four to six lanes.

The $12 million was taken from two pots of surplus money in county government coffers.  The big idea: make the gateway to the heavily populated, traditionally more blue collar eastern section of Prince William County more aesthetically appealing to drivers entering it from Northern Virginia juggernaut Fairfax County.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, At-large, in October praised the effort. “No other jurisdiction on the east coast from Maine to Florida has put more money into the revitalization of Route 1,” said Stewart.

On Jan. 6, more than a year after deciding to bury the power lines, The Board of Supervisors will once again vote to stay the course and put the lines underground or to reallocate funds elsewhere.

Leading the charge is Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland, who said the Board needs to “reprioritize its spending plans to accommodate revenue constraints, resulting from the current lagging local economy,” according to a resolution in Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting agenda. It’s the latest move from a Republican who often says local government spends too much, and enacts taxing plans that are too burdensome for the county’s middle class residents.

“The economy doesn’t listen to our five-year plan. The people sitting around doing their budgets, their paychecks don’t listen to our five year plan, and we’re still seeing this economy struggle,” Candland said.

Candland has continually criticized his Board’s vote in late 2013 to bury the lines.  The Supervisor’s Gainesville District in western Prince William has residential and retail subdivisions that are only a fraction as old as what sits in Woodbridge. Most if not all power lines are buried in Gainesville.

The ball is already rolling on the plan to bury the lines as engineers have designed working plans to get the job done. The development of those plans also stalled the effort to widen Route 1.

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi says Candland has rehashed this issue too many times, and he equates the debate over the burial of the power lines to Congressional Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare.

“We’ve already spent $2 million in engineering funds on the project. If we turn back, that would be a stupid policy and budgeting decision, and it would require significant delays in Route 1 widening project,” said Principi. “We’ve already put off widening Route 1 for a year to accommodate the design of the underground power lines.”

Corey Stewart still supports burying the lines and suspects Candland won’t have the votes he needs to reverse course.

“We’ve spent 25 years revitalizing Route 1. If we don’t bury them, the power lines will be there forever, and underground forever if we do bury them. To not bury them is being pennywise and pound foolish.”

Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe agrees though he first voted against the project because he didn’t approve of the funding sources.

“Now that’s it’s underway, we can’t stop it now,” said Nohe.

Arrest made in fatal Woodbridge crash

Dumfreis, crash, traffic

Richard T. Stewart, 57, of Germantown, Maryland is charged with failure to yield right of way after a fatal crash in Woodbridge.

Stewart was driving a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and was making a left turn from Chesapeake Drive to Route 1 south when it crossed paths with a Yamaha motorcycle traveling north on Route 1. The crash occurred Dec. 2, 2014.

The 31-year-old motorcyclist, of Dumfries, died.

A passenger on the bike suffered serious injuries.

Picture your art here to win

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 10.54.19 AM

Winning artwork to be featured on light poles in Manassas

Have you seen the banners that hang on the light poles in the Historic Downtown area of the City of Manassas and in other cities? If you are an artist or aspiring to be one, the art you create could be hanging on one of those light poles.

Historic Manassas, Inc. and the City of Manassas have launched an art contest to fill the banners in Historic Downtown with original pieces of art. The contest will be juried so that one artist will be awarded a grand prize of $1000 and there will also be “people’s choice award” of $500. The contest deadline has been extended to Feb. 1, 2015.

This contest is part of an effort to promote art and tourism in the City of Manassas. The winning 50 pieces will be featured on the light pole banners and in a walking tour brochure that includes information on the piece and the artist. Information about the contest can be found at visitmanassas.org/banner-art-project.

I-95 EZ-Pass Express tolls begin Monday, temporary carpool waiver offered

[Submitted photo]

[Submitted photo]

All drivers on the Interstate 95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes must have an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex electronic tolling transponder starting Monday.

Drivers who have  ordered an EZ-Pass Flex and have not received it may sign up for a special one-week grace period with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Here’s more in a press release:

Monday, December 29 and all carpoolers need an E-ZPass Flex to use the lanes toll-free.  The carpool transition program will give regular carpoolers the opportunity to register for a week of HOV only, toll-exempt travel on the 95 Express Lanes if they have taken the necessary step of ordering their E-ZPass® FlexSM but have not yet received their transponder.

It can take up to seven days for carpoolers to receive their E-ZPass Flex when they order online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at 877-762-7824.  Carpoolers who indicate that they plan to carpool with three or more people on the 95 Express Lanes can register to be added to a seven-day HOV, toll-exempt travel list to ensure they can use the Express Lanes while they wait for their E-ZPass Flex to arrive. 

Carpoolers may designate up to one license plate for each E-ZPass Flex transponder ordered.  Customers who order an E-ZPass Flex by 5 p.m. will have their license plates registered for HOV only use on the 95 Express Lanes by 6 a.m. the following business day. 

Carpoolers who wish to have their E-ZPass Flex in-hand sooner can visit one of 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Virginia DMVs and Giant Food Stores, Tysons Corner Center or at E-ZPass Customer Service Centers.

The toll exemption applies to the 95 Express Lanes only – the 495 Express Lanes and other area toll roads are not part of this program. 

The EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 extend from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Alexandria. The lanes will be tolled 24-hours per day, seven days a week.

Tips to prevent road rage following bloody incident in Stafford

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

Leaving earlier, calming music, paying it forward can prevent aggressive driving 

One man was stabbed Sunday in an apparent incident of road rage outside a Walmart in North Stafford.

Two vehicles were sitting at a red light at the intersection of Mine Road and Greenspring Drive when one person got out of the car and stabbed another, according to a Stafford sheriff’s office spokesman.

The Stafford sheriff’s office was called to the scene, but no charges have been filed in the case. Photos of the bloody incident scene were taken by passersby.

Authorities washed away the traces of blood on the street following the investigation.

This latest road rage incident follows an incident in California caught on camera where a woman used her truck and attempted to run another car off a highway.

A majority of road crashes in the U.S. are caused by aggressive driving.

It’s no secret the holidays can be a stressful time for many. Shopping, traffic, mounting credit card bills are just some of what people associate this time of the year with.

There are many things drivers can do to reduce the likelihood of road rage. Listening to calming or inspirational music while behind the wheel, leaving the house earlier to have more travel time, or “paying it forward” by allowing someone to go ahead of you can go a long way in preventing road rage.

“When someone does give their signal and butts in front of you, pay it forward. It’s a random act of kindness. It’s amazing how much that will dispel rage,” said Sharon Killian, clinical services director at Rappahannock Community Services Board.

The Board operates anger management classes and frequently helps people overcome anger issues.

Sometimes, people prone to road rage can be nicer when not behind the wheel.

“Those people who do that, when they’re calm, usually say something like ‘I know I shouldn’t have done that, I’m so impatient,” said Killian. “Usually, people know it’s something that they have to work on inside themselves.”

Drivers in our area are no strangers to traffic. Many have to deal with jammed roadways each day, and it’s important for them to pack their patience.

“People who live in congested areas in Northern Virginia, in congested places like Stafford, they have to practice those skills every day,” said Killian. 

Those who wish to seek help for their anger issues can call the Rappahannock Community Services Board 24 hours a day at 540-373-6876.

John Jenkins will have a locomotive named after him

John Jenkins, Sharon Bulova, and Paul Milde all serve on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. [Submitted photo]

All aboard the John Jenkins Express.

Jenkins, the longest currently serving Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is recognized for his participation on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. He and eight other VRE Board members who played key roles in the development of the commuter railroad since its founding in 1992 will have their names affixed to the front of VRE locomotives.

Here’s a full list of names that will soon appear on commuter trains:

  • Edwin King – Prince William County (Original Member)
  • James Hugh Payne Sr. – City of Manassas (First Elected City of Manassas Member)
  • Bernard Cohen – VA House of Delegates (Original Member)
  • Bob Gibbons – Stafford County (First Elected Stafford Member)
  • Sally H. Cooper – VDOT (Original Member)
  • Sharon Bulova – Fairfax County (Original and Continuously Serving Member)
  • John Jenkins – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Hilda Barg – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Elaine McConnell – Fairfax County (Long Serving Member – previously recognized)

The operations board approved adding the names to the locomotives at their monthly meeting this morning.

“Naming locomotives to honor those who helped establish or ensure the success of VRE is a small token of the appreciation we have for the foresight and public service these Board Members have provided in creating VRE,” said  VRE Operations Board Chairman Paul Milde in a press release.

The names that will be affixed to the locomotives belong to those who “played a key role in establishing VRE service, were early or long-tenured members, or whose extraordinary efforts contributed to its success, will be honored by having their names placed on the front of VRE locomotives.”

Virginia Railway Express trains carried more than 320,000 riders in November. Over the past year, the commuter railroad carried 2 million riders.

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.

 

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