Traffic & Transit
As you get ready to celebrate the long-weekend and Memorial Day, here is the latest from Potomac Local on what you need to know about closings, events and traffic & transit news. Keep Reading…
Expect to see some changes on the roadways in Gainesville over the next few weeks.
As part of a $230 million project, starting overnight on May 26, traffic traveling on the southbound lanes on Route 29 between I-66 and Linton Hall Road will now be moved on to the newly built bridge, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The new bridge crosses over the railroad track.
According to VDOT, the ramp that goes from eastbound I-66 to southbound Route 29 will also be reopened.
Additionally, VDOT is working to remove the traffic signal at Route 29 and Linton Hall Road, with all of the traffic on the Linton Hall/Route 55 section being moved to the new overpass.
After the shifts in traffic have been completed, crews will complete the ramps from Route 55 over to the southbound lanes of Route 29, as well as from northbound lanes on Route 29 to Linton Hall Road, said VDOT.
The ramp completion will cause some detours for drivers in the area.
According to a release from VDOT, drivers heading northbound on Route 29 to eastbound Linton Hall Road, and eastbound from Route 55 to southbound on Route 29 will all use temporary detour ramps.
Also, drivers going westbound on Linton Hall Road, headed to southbound Route 29 will be detoured to Wellington Road and University Boulevard, said VDOT.
The project is expected to be completed this summer.
On May 16, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) honored several board members at the Broad Run Station in Bristow.
Here’s more information from the VRE on the honorees:
- 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)
“Honoring these Operations Board Members is a gesture of the appreciation we have for the leadership and public service they provided in creating and shaping VRE,” said John C. Cook, Operations Board Chairman of VRE and Fairfax County Supervisor.
The VRE Operations Board will consider additional honorees on an annual basis.
Four people were injured this morning in a crash involving two dump trucks and an SUV in North Stafford.
Four people who were traveling in two dump trucks were taken to a hospital suffering injuries that didn’t appear to be life threatening. The female driver of the SUV also involved in the crash refused to be taken to a hospital, said Stafford fire and rescue spokesman Mark Doyle.
A fuel tank on one of the dump trucks ruptured. A nearby sand a gravel business provided free sand to emergency crews tasked with cleaning up the fuel spill.
A portion of Shelton Shop Road was closed to traffic due to the crash. Traffic was redirected onto Oakwood Drive, as well as back to Garrisonville Road so drivers could find another way around the crash.
Virginia State Police are investigating the crash. We’re still waiting to find out if charges will be filed in this case.
Wondering what the schedule for the Express Lanes will be like for Memorial Day weekend?
Here’s the schedule from Transurban:
Friday, May 22: 95 Express Lanes reversible lanes will be southbound starting at noon
Saturday, May 23: 95 Express Lanes remain southbound until 2 p.m. and open northbound by about 4 p.m.
Sunday, May 24: 95 Express Lanes will be closed from 7 a.m. to approximately 11 a.m. for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride. When the lanes re-open, they will remain northbound for the remainder of the day
Monday, May 25: 95 Express Lanes remain northbound all day
The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) will launch their new VRE Mobile ticketing application tomorrow.
VRE is the first transportation system to offer an app in the area. Riders will be able to use the app to pay for their fares, but paper tickets will still be sold, said a release.
“VRE Mobile is part of our ongoing effort to make the commuting experience more convenient and today we take a significant leap forward for our passengers. We are excited to get VRE Mobile into the hands of our passengers, adding a new easy-to-use option to buy and use fares,” said VRE Chief Executive Officer Doug Allen in a release. Keep Reading…
Repairs to a broken water main on Dale Boulevard were wrapping up Friday morning.
The broken main is located at the intersection of Dale Boulevard and Gideon Drive.
Crews worked overnight to repair a break in a 24-inch water main that was punctured midday Thursday by a construction crew, according to Virginia American Water.
A foreman on the scene said the construction just barely hit the water main.
“Just two more inches and they would have missed it altogether,” he said.
Traffic on westbound Dale Boulevard was most affected by the repair work. Construction crews set up shop in the right lane of Dale Boulevard, which meant drivers had to stay in the left lane to get by the work.
From May 11 to May 29, CSX Transportation will be performing railroad track and switch upgrade on Virginia Railway Express’ (VRE) Fredericksburg Line.
The work will be completed just south of the Fredericksburg station, said a release.
According to a release, the project is being done to improve the speed and reliability of the trains, as well as decreasing current delays when trains are switching between the VRE’s four tracks.
This project is part of a larger initiative to create a new third track that runs from Washington, D.C. to Richmond.
VRE riders could see delays between 10 to 45 minutes during the construction, and it will impact both northbound and southbound trains.
The man taken to an area hospital suffering burns was a stowaway inside the baggage compartment of the bus that caught fire.
Here’s more from Virginia State Police:
A 2014 Greyhound bus was traveling south on I-95 south when the driver started to see and smell smoke coming into the cabin of the bus. The driver safely pulled to the right shoulder where all 28 passengers exited without incident. Stafford County Fire and Virginia State Police discovered the fire coming from the baggage compartment below the passenger compartment.
Inside the luggage compartment was a male subject. He was flown from the scene to INOVA Fairfax Hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.
Details released by the Virginia State Police reveal that, as the 2014 Greyhound bus was traveling south on I-95, the driver started to see and smell smoke coming into the cabin. The driver then pulled over onto the right shoulder, where all 28 passengers exited without further incident, say police.
Stafford County fire fighters and Virginia State Police noticed that the fire was coming from the baggage compartment below the passenger compartment. A man was found inside the luggage compartment. He was flown from the scene to the hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries. Initial reports say he had burns.
The Virginia State Police report that a male was inside the luggage compartment of the Greyhound bus that caught fire on Interstate 95 southbound this afternoon. He was flown from the scene to INOVA Fairfax Hospital for the treatment of life-threatening injuries.
There were 28 passengers on the bus at the time, according to the Virginia State Police. The passengers were transported elsewhere via a local school bus.
No further details are available. State police are investigating the incident.
A Greyhound bus caught fire this afternoon while traveling on Interstate 95 south.
The bus caught fire near mile post 144, near Route 610 at Garrisonville. At least one person was injured, according to initial reports.
A helicopter was called to take at least one injured person to a hospital. Initial reports indicate the patient suffered burns.
The police temporarily closed all lanes of of I-95 near the crash scene around 3:30 p.m., so the MedStar helicopter could land.
Traffic on I-95 south is backed up to Quantico Marine Corps Base. Traffic congestion is also building along Route 1, which runs parallel to I-95.
School buses were called to carry passengers from the burned bus, according to initial reports.
We’ll have more on this as it develops.
Three new stations part of VRE extension plan
More than five years ago, many on the Haymarket Town Council wanted nothing to do with a planned westward expansion of Virginia Railway Express.
Then town leaders feared the traffic congestion a new VRE station could bring to the town.
Now, the town council appears to be on board with the idea of commuter rail to the tiny town.
“We’re excited about a study that will tell us more about the prospect of VRE coming out to Haymarket. We’ve had councils, in the past, that weren’t too excited, but this new council is looking forward to having VRE come here,” said Haymarket Mayor David Leake.
The process of getting VRE to Haymarket and Gainesville, both in the western portion of Prince William County, took a big step forward. The commuter railroad approved $4 million to pay AECOM Technical Services, Inc. to conduct a planning and engineering study of the planned project.
At least three new stations would be added as part of the extension — at Sudley Manor Drive, Gainesville, and in Haymarket. A fourth station at Prince William Innovation Park — home to the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus — has also been discussed.
If service is extended, the new rail line would be an extension of VRE’s Manassas line. It would run on Norfolk Southern railroad’s “B” line, which branches off from its main line at Wellington Road in Manassas. The “B” line runs parallel to Wellington Road, crosses underneath Sudley Manor Drive and then continues west underneath Prince William Parkway into Gainesville and Haymarket.
Trains headed west from Washington to Haymarket would service the train station in Downtown Manassas but not the Broad Run station at Manassas Regional Airport, as Manassas line trains do today.
Today, the “B” line is used by freight trains. Those trains would continue to use the line alongside VRE trains. A new bridge that carries cars on Route 28 over Wellington Road in Manassas was built wide enough to accommodate a second set of railroad tracks that could be built as part of VRE’s westward expansion.
Prince William County taxpayers continue to be one of the transit system largest funding sources. Officials like the idea of expanding a popular commuter rail system with a major presence in their backyard.
“I think this would be a great step forward for the Brenstville District,” said district supervisor Jeanine Lawson. “It’s the ideal transportation solution to the traffic congestion we have on I-66.”
Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland said riders that have embraced using VRE had helped to decrease the number of cars on I-66. He vows to work with other local officials, as well as residents, to gather input on the project.
“Tere are obviously a myriad of challenges that exist with such projects, including traversing wetland areas, impacts on existing communities, traffic and parking issues at a station, and the disruption on the quality of life for homeowners that would potentially be negatively impacted by the construction of a VRE extension in their community,” said Candland.
The planning and engineering phases of the project are slated to last through the end of 2017. Final design of the new phase is expected two years later. If construction were to begin in 2021, the expansion could open the following year, according to VRE spokesman Bryan Jungwirth.
Founded in 1992, VRE is Virginia’s only commuter rail system. It carries nearly 20,000 average daily riders on its two lines – Manassas to Washington and Fredericksburg to Washington.
Motorists traveling through the intersection of Route 1, Carter Street and Route 218 (Butler Road) in Stafford County can expect some delays this week due to ongoing construction work to improve the Falmouth intersection. Flaggers and/or electronic signs will direct motorists through the work zone.
Route 1 southbound will be reduced to a single lane at the Falmouth intersection so crews can place traffic signal poles at the intersection corners, today and tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Overnight, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., traffic will be periodically shifted to the northbound or southbound side of the road for waterline installation. During the traffic shift there will be one lane open in each direction on either the northbound or southbound side of Route 1.
Carter Street will closed to traffic overnight, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., today and tomorrow between Butler Road and Gordon Street. Residents will be provided access to their homes during the closure.
Motorists will be restricted to one lane on the westbound side of Butler Road at Carter Street now through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
For real-time updates on lane closures and work zones, please visit VDOT’s 24-hour traffic information website, www.511virginia.org or download VDOT’s 511Virginia free mobile app. Motorists can also access 511Virginia by calling 511 from any telephone in Virginia.
Residents of the Meadowbrook Woods neighborhood on busy Route 234 near Manassas for many years have wanted a traffic signal at the entrance to their neighborhood.
“Almost since the beginning,” said Janice Valdez, a member of the Meadowbrook Woods Homeowners Association.
However, county and state officials have deemed a traffic signal inappropriate.
Cars turning out of the neighborhood often encounter other vehicles that sit in the median on Route 234. Those drivers are attempting to turn into Meadowbrook Woods.
Drivers turning into the neighborhood can make for dangerous driving conditions as drivers exiting the neighborhood those sitting in the median.
Al Gabrois, a longtime resident of Meadowbrook Woods, said that “coming into the neighborhood, I think the people are desperate to get out so they’ll take the right of way…if I had to make a left everyday out of here to go to work that would be trouble”.
Marc Cioffi, a traffic engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), said the agency hasn’t marked the neighborhood entrance as dangerous. Cioffi added that he has not received one request for a traffic light at that intersection.
“Every request is handled the same way. It doesn’t matter to us if it’s submitted to us by an individual, or a community or hundreds of people, we address each request the same way,” Cioffi said. Keep Reading…
You’ll soon be able to tap your phone to purchase a Virginia Railway Express ticket.
The commuter railroad on May 15 will roll out its first-ever mobile ticketing system. Riders will be able to purchase any VRE ticket – single ride, two ride, five-day pass, monthly ticket, Amtrak Step-Up ticket – with the push of a button on their mobile device.
“We’re working on a way for people to avoid ticketing and vending machines, and to makes rides easier for our customers,” said VRE spokesman Brian Jungwirth.
Riders will also be able to use transit benefits with the new mobile service.
Users must download an app to their phone that will allow them to use a credit card to buy their tickets. When it’s time to validate the ticket, a train conductor will ask to be shown riders’ cell phone screens, where the ticket will be displayed. Jungwirth said the screen would have an animated background and a QR code, so conductors know the difference between an actual mobile ticket and a computer screenshot counterfeit version.
Mobile ticketing has been in the works for years at VRE. A request for proposals to vendors who could deliver the service went out in 2013. In September of that same year, VRE awarded a $3.2 million contract to Portland, Ore.-based Globe Sherpa to deliver the ticketing system.
A similar mobile ticketing system is being used at TriMet, a public transit system in the Portland area, according to VRE meeting minutes from September 2013.
VRE users were excited about the prospect of mobile ticketing. More than 600 users signed up to beta test the new system in the first hour after VRE made a request for testers, Jungwirth said.
Moblie tickets will not replace paper tickets, according to VRE documents.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will close the historic Aden Road bridge over Norfolk Southern Railroad Friday, after an inspection has revealed further deterioration of the 132-year-old structure. Read more at Bristow Beat.
When one solution to traffic congestion opens, another problem can appear.
In this case, a new backup has formed on Interstate 95 north on weekday mornings. Just before the entrance to the 95 Express Lanes, there is major congestion as drivers slow to read all of the signs warning them they need an E-ZPass to enter the toll lanes.
Drivers also need to merge left to enter the lanes – a move that’s counterintuitive as many drivers are used to entering and exiting highways from the right.
“VDOT is aware of congestion that has developed on Interstate 95 northbound on weekday mornings in Stafford County, leading up to the new Express Lanes entrance just north of Exit 143/Aquia and Garrisonville. This is a new congestion pattern that has developed after the opening of 95 Express Lanes in December 2014,” said Kelly Hannon, Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
We were tipped off about the new delay when we spoke with commuters at the newly expanded Staffordboro Commuter Lot just off Route 610 in North Stafford. They told us drivers now use back roads in Stafford County, from Route 17 to get to Route 610, to avoid the congestion on I-95. Once on Route 610, they pull into the Staffordboro lot, park, and then catch a ride to work.
“We are concerned about the congestion and are discussing long-term solutions that could reduce this queue in the future. However, any reduction will likely require new vehicle capacity and construction, and would take time to develop,” added Hannon. Keep Reading…
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will be holding a public hearing for the Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) on April 30 in Fredericksburg.
The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Germanna Community College location in Fredericksburg.
The SYIP outlines road improvements that VDOT plans to support in the area from fiscal years 2016 to 2021, said a VDOT release.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board released their draft of the SYIP on April 15, which outlines almost 3,000 transportation projects to be completed over the 6-year period – totaling $12.9 billion.
According to Prince William County Police spokesperson Jonathan Perok, the driver in the vehicle that crashed into the utility pole in Triangle has been charged with a DUI.
A resident stated that the power had been out since 2:30 a.m.
Two outages in Triangle have left more than 1,900 customers without power.
According to Dominion Power, the energy supplier for the area, there are two outages in the Graham Park area.
The first outage has effected 1,902 customers, due to a vehicle accident, said Dominion Power’s outage map. The expected restoration time for the outage is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The second outage has effected 21 customers, due to emergency work on the scene, according to Dominion Power’s outage map. The expected restoration time from the outage is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Workers from Dominion Power are on the scene at the intersection of Olde Port Lane and Graham Park Road, replacing two power poles that were down.
— Dominion VA Power (@DomVAPower) April 27, 2015
Prince William County Public Schools experienced bus delays at several schools in the area due to the road closures where Dominion Power was fixing the downed lines.
Stafford will be moving forward with a $1.5 million project to realign a section of Centreport Parkway, near Ramoth Church Road.
As part of the project, the road will be realigned at the intersection of Centreport Parkway and Ramoth Church Road, shifting it 250 feet to the west, according to the county website. Additionally, there will be new asphalt pavement that will connect the roadway.
Funding for the project came from Stafford County’s Secondary Six Year Plan and funding from the state, said Public Information Officer Shannon Howell.
“Currently, the northern most section of Centreport Parkway is located within a public access easement. The project will reconstruct approximately 500’ of roadway onto state-owned right of way and widen Centreport Parkway to provide dedicated left and right turn lanes onto Ramoth Church Road. A right turn lane from Ramoth Church Road onto Centreport Parkway will also be constructed as part of this project,” said Howell.
Howell also states that construction will likely be started in June, and be completed early next year.
During construction, the parkway will remain open normally, while the realigned section is being completed.
According to Howell, drivers may see some lane closures on Ramoth Church Road between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, while the right turn lane on Ramoth Church Road is being constructed.
There may also be some infrequent lane closures on Centreport Parkway when the new section of the road is tied in to the existing parkway.
Starting this month, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will begin construction on a $5.2 million dollar project that will provide pavement and safety improvements along Route 218.
The construction will take place on a 20-mile stretch of Route 218, and will include King George and Stafford counties.
The route has fairly high traffic volume, with about 5,000 vehicles driving on it every day, said VDOT.
VDOT stated that drivers in the area may see some increased congestion, as Route 218 will be reduced to only one lane from Mondays through Fridays – between dawn and dusk.
There will be no lane closures west of Route 301 during peak travel times, to prevent severe congestion, said a VDOT release.
According to a VDOT release, some of the cost for the project was paid for using federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funding – money used to reduce highway crashes.
As part of the project, VDOT stated that they would be constructing new pavement markings, upgraded and new guardrails, sign upgrades, tree removal, and minor shoulder widening.
The company in charge of constructing the road improvements is Superior Paving, based out of Gainesville.
Construction is slated for completion in December 2015.
An overturned car on Prince William Parkway caught the eye of drivers Tuesday.
Especially Buddy Baker, of Woodbridge, who was sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire and witnessed the crash. Baker said a coupe was traveling on Prince William Parkway in the direction of Woodbridge, in an S curve at the intersection of Scenic Point Drive, when it crashed into a road sign and overturned in the median.
“I thought we was gonna hit me,” said Baker.
After the crash, Baker ran toward the crashed car. Other drivers stopped to help, said Baker.
The driver of the car crawled out and immediately picked up his cell phone.
“We all asked him if he was OK and if there was anything we could do and he kept saying ‘I’m alright, I’m alright,” said Baker.
Police and fire and rescue crews were at the crash scene about noon. Drivers slowed to see the spectacle of the demolished car that crashed in wet, slippery conditions.
Baker said he saw rescue crews bandage the driver’s arm. The man who Baker identified as the driver was walking around and appeared to be speaking with crash investigators.
Baker was headed to Manassas from Woodbridge when his Honda Civic popped it’s back rear tire. He called a roadside assistance car that came to help him across from the crash scene.
Residents should expect to see increased lane closures in the coming months at the intersection of Route 1, Route 17 Business and Route 218 in Stafford’s Falmouth district.
The closures are a part of the $22.1 million dollar construction project being completed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), according to a VDOT release.
Construction on the intersection began back in March 2014 as part of an improvement project. Tavares Concrete, Inc is completing the project.
Currently, construction on the project is at 50% completion. The project includes building new turn lanes and travel lanes, as well as sidewalks, which will be open for use in September 2015, said a VDOT release.
According to a VDOT release, the purpose of the project is to unclog the intersection, as it is an important alternate route for Interstate 95, and local passage between Stafford County and the City of Fredericksburg.
“We appreciate the cooperation and patience of drivers over the past year during the demolition, utility relocation, and early construction work. We look forward to wrapping up construction over the next six months to deliver this project in September,” said Michael Coffey, P.E., VDOT’s Assistant District Administrator for Construction, Fredericksburg District in a release.
Residents should expect single lane closures near the intersection most evenings, Sunday through Thursday. VDOT stated that they will avoid lane closures during peak traffic times including rush hour on weekdays, Friday nights, and weekend days.