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Plan your Memorial Day escape with these local travel tips

Traffic headed south on U.S. 1 toward the Falmouth intersection frequently backs up due to a traffic signal where U.S. 1, U.S. 17, and Va. 218 converge. (Photo: Jim Lawrence/For PotomacLocal.com)

More than 38 million people across the U.S. will travel this Memorial Day weekend.

It is the second highest number of travelers expected to get out of town on the long holiday kick off to summer since 2005.

Low fuel prices — the lowest they’ve been in 11 years — will spur most of that travel.

Around here, the operators of the E-Z Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95 from North Stafford Alexandria are getting ready. Toll lanes operator Transurban says toll prices will be higher than average, drivers should pay attention to overhead warning signs, and that congestion on I-95’s travel lanes can lead to congestion in the Express Lanes at the southern terminus in Stafford County.

When to go:

The busiest getaway travel times on the regular I-95 lanes and the 95 Express Lanes before Memorial

Day weekend in 2015 were Thursday and Friday between noon and 6 p.m. Delays were worse on

Friday. We expect those periods will again face the heaviest travel volumes

To avoid higher-than-average tolls and peak traffic, drivers should depart before noon on Thursday or after 6 p.m. on Friday

On the road:

An advisory sign before the Quantico/Joplin Road exit will alert Express Lanes drivers to any delays ahead on the Lanes

Drivers can then decide whether to exit the Lanes at Joplin Road or continue to the end of the 95

Express Lanes near Garrisonville Road

If delays increase, signage before the Joplin Road exit will advise travelers to exit to the regular lanes

Express Assist crews will be available to help drivers who get stuck on the Lanes

Riding with family or friends? If you have at least two passengers in your vehicle, don’t forget to put your E-ZPass® FlexSM in HOV mode for a toll-free trip

Here’s the northbound / southbound schedule fro the lanes for the holiday weekend:

The 95 Express Lanes reversal schedule will be adjusted for holiday getaway traffic and to accommodate the Rolling Thunder event on Sunday, May 29. Here’s what drivers can expect:

Thursday, May 26: Southbound reversal begins one hour earlier at 10 a.m.

Friday, May 27: Southbound reversal begins one hour earlier at 10 a.m.

Saturday, May 28: Normal operations – Lanes reverse to northbound at 2 p.m.

Sunday, May 29: Northbound Lanes will close around 7:30 a.m. The Rolling Thunder event will access the Lanes via Opitz Boulevard with the support of Express Assist crews. The Lanes will open around 11 a.m. again in the northbound direction

Monday, May 30: Express Lanes remain northbound all day

Tuesday, May 31: Normal operations – southbound reversal begins around 11 a.m. with Lanes opening by 1 p.m.

For those staying close to home and taking Metro, the subway will operate on a Sunday schedule on Memorial Day with the first Blue and Orange line trains leaving the station at 7 a.m. and the last Orange line train arriving at the Vienna station at 12:35 a.m. and the last Blue line train leaving arriving in Springfield at 12:44 a.m.

News
What’s the worst part about your commute? Leaders want to know. Seriously.

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

There’s a plan to spend more than $330 $23 billion on transportation improvements in Northern Virginia by 2040.

That plan is called “TransAction 2040,” and transportation planners want you to become more familiar with it. A meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday in Manassas Park where consultants from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority — the agency that approves and doles ranks regional transportation projects making them eligible for state funding  — will ask a simple question: What’s wrong with your commute.

Obviously, if you live in Northern Virginia, there’s not one simple answer.

The responses will be used to update TransAction — a long-range planning guide that identifies what roadways need improvements, and how to better fund and expand transit. The list also serves as a way to tell state legislators in Richmond about the problems Northern Virginia drivers face on a daily basis.

“NVTA is one of the most progressive approaches to traffic control that I’ve seen,” said Manassas City Councilman Jonathan Way. “They monitor transportation funding, something that we in Northern Virginia value very much because we’re putting more money in than we’re getting back.”

“Our priorities are straight forward.  We must seek to improve traffic flow through the Route  28 corridor,” Manassas Park Mayor Frank Jones states in an email. ” It has become a bottleneck that traps citizens for protracted periods just trying to get to Centreville and I-66.  We are also very interested in the VRE sponsored project to construct a parking facility in Manassas Park to provide additional capacity for VRE ridership.  The more cars we can take off the road, the more efficiently traffic can move.”  

Consultants will use the feedback as they implement updates to the TransAction2014 plan.

The program is separate from the more than 20 projects evaluated by the state for possible funding. The plans were reviewed for their potential to reduce traffic delays, congestion, and to increase access to jobs within a 45 to 60-minute time span by the year 2020.

At the top of the list: Improvements to the Interstate 66 / Route 28 interchange in Centreville.

NVTA will hold a workshop on its TransAction plan at the Manassas Park Community Center. It is open to the public.

News
How $3 million of schools’ money could be used to fix a deadly road

jameshill

James Hill is a section of Brooke Road that sits near Potomac Creek.

There have been nearly 60 crashes along the winding 2-lane road in Stafford County since 1996. The majority of the crashes involved personal injuries.

One of the most infamous crashes to occur here in 1995 and injured 15-year-old Molly Gill, of Aquia Harbour. Gill was paralyzed from the accident and later died after complications from surgery.

The Stafford Sheriff’s Office now honors a victim of crime that has demonstrated resilience and perseverance with an award named in Gill’s honor.

In 2008, Stafford County’s Youth Driver Taskforce identified this section of Brooke Road to be in need of improvement. The task force called for the straightening of this section of Brooke Road, and for widening the lanes to 11 feet wide with six-feet shoulders.

The task force was the brainchild of then Stafford Board of Supervisors member turned Virginia Delegate Mark Dudenhefer, who also lost his daughter to a crash on a two-lane road in Stafford County.

Stafford leaders decided to fund the project. They purchased the needed land to widen the lanes and to relocate utilities and then moved them.

Then money dried up due to declining gas tax revenues and county leaders shelved the project. Now Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde wants to use about $3 million of unspent carryover funds from the School Board to finish the job.

Each year, the unspent money is returned to the Board of Supervisors for reallocation. Milde said the improving the roadway would benefit all drivers, including students, and he hopes the School Board supports the move.

“Hopefully, they will understand because the need is so unique,” said Milde.

The total price tag for fixing this portion of Brooke Road is about $6 million. The state promised about $3 million in matching funds if Stafford County put up half, said Milde.

The School Board has about $17 million in carryover funds from this year and last. The Board expects to spend $6 million of it before the end of the year ending June 30 to improve the track at Stafford High School, a parking lot at Hampton Oaks Elementary School, and to give each Stafford County Public Schools Employee a $300 stipend, said Falmouth District School Board member Scott Hirons.

Hirons said he saw no problem in spending the $2.8 million to fix the road. If the county doesn’t step up soon it will lose the state’s match funding for the project, said Milde, who plans to bring up the road project to the Board of Supervisors at the June 7 meeting.

However, Hirons said he hopes the Board of Supervisors will put their money where their mouth is and fund a $2 million rebuild of Anne E. Moncure Elementary School in North Stafford. Four years ago, the Board of Supervisors said it wanted to the land on which the 44-year-old school sits, along busy Garrisonville Road.

That land is better suited for mixed use retail development, county documents stated at the time. County officials the laid out plans to purchase about 22 acres of property on nearby Juggins Road, to lease the land back to the School Board at no cost, where a new school would be built.

It’s now 2016, and Moncure Elementary School hasn’t moved.

“The Board of Supervisors asked us to dedicate the money [for the new school] to make the [Capital Improvement Plan] work,” said Hirons, who added the new Moncure Elementary School is in the design process.

News
Road work to close I-95 north in Woodbridge

Road crews on Interstate 95 in Woodbridge will close the northbound portion of the highway in the area of Cardinal Drive just before the exits for Dale City and Rippon Landing. 

More in a press release :

Lane closures will occur between 9:30 p.m. tonight and 5 a.m. Thursday, May 19 on northbound I-95 at the Cardinal Drive overpass to complete work related to the removal of overhead signs, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Single lane closures will occur between 9:30 and 11 p.m.; up to two lanes will be closed between 11 p.m. tonight and 5 a.m. tomorrow. At least one lane will be open during all closures.

Follow VDOT Northern Virginia on Twitter: @vadotnova

News
Annual law enforcement bike ride to pass through Stafford, Woodbridge

The annual Law Enforcement United Ride is expected to enter Stafford County after 3 p.m. today.

Participants in the annual bicycle ride to raise awareness of fallen police officers and funds for their families will spend the night in Stafford County. They’ll depart from their hotels on Thursday morning.

The bicyclists are expected to head north and arrive in Prince William County about 8 a.m., Thursday, May 12, 2016, said Prince William police Sgt. Jonathan Perok.

Police do not expect any impacts to rush hour traffic due to the ride.

Bikers will use Route 1 north as they travel to Arlington National Cemetery. The ride will eventually end in Washington, D.C.

Riders departed Chesapeake on Tuesday for the annual 3-day event.

News
VRE to Haymarket: If you build it will home developers come to the Rural Crescent?

vregainesville

Those behind a study to expand Virginia Railway Express in western Prince William County say the region’s population numbers will explode.

The transit agency said it used statistics from the Prince William County Planning Office that show more 43 percent of the growth in the county between now and 2040 will be centered along a planned 11-mile extension of VRE’s Manassas line, from the city to Haymarket.

The proposed $550 million extension would have three commuter rail stations — one at Innovation Park, another at Gainesville near Virginia Gateway, and a terminus outside Haymarket. (more…)

News
Traffic at I-95 at Rt. 123 at Occoquan stinks. Would this fix it?

route123occoquan

This post started by someone sending us a Tweet about improving congested traffic conditions the intersection at Interstate 95 and Route 123 near Occoquan. 

The Twitter account “Fix Route 28” and the organization behind it is one we are familiar with. The organization regularly argues for improvements along Route 28 between Manassas, Manassas Park, and I-66 in Centreville.  (more…)

News
SUV overturns near Dumfries

overturnedacuradumfries

A overturned SUV halted traffic on Interstate 95 near Dumfries today.

The driver of an Acura was traveling north on the highway and crashed about 12:56 p.m. and turned onto its side in the left lane of the highway just before milepost 152.

Rescue crews and Virginia State Police were called the scene. Minor injuries were repoted, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Several motorists stopped and got out of their vehicles to help the occupant of the SUV. The bystanders began pushing on the car in an attempt to right the vehicle.

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