Covering the Greater Prince William County, Virginia Area

Traffic & Transit

Traffic
Residents plea for a new signal light on Route 1

STAFFORD — Both residents and leaders want a new traffic signal erected on Route 1 near an iconic crucifix.

Stafford County resident Amy Wieman said the cross is there for a reason.

“…if you pull out that road especially at rush hour you’re not at all like you literally have to pray. That’s why the crucifix there,” she said.

OK, not really. The crucifix is a historical marker to note the nearby location of the first Catholic settlement in Virginia.

But the intersection of Route 1 and Telegraph Road has long plagued Stafford drivers, especially during the afternoon rush hours when parents go and pick up their children at the nearby Widewater Elementary and Sheirly Heim Middle schools.

“Every single time I leave school I say a little prayer and I hope I don’t get into an accident. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t even let my father-in-law pick up the kids from school because it is so dangerous,” one resident told the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.

Hers is a story shared with other residents, like this one from Stafford resident Amy Bancroft, of Aquia Harbour: (more…)

Traffic
Safety Services Patrolman struck in hit and run on I-95

Police are searching for the driver of a green Mustang who fled the scene after striking the safety patrolman while he was rendering aid to another disabled driver. 

From police: 

At 6:20 a.m.Friday (Sept. 22), Virginia State Police responded to a report of a hit-and-run of a VDOT Safety Services Patroller in the northbound lanes of I-95 near Exit 166B.

The Safety Services Patrol (SSP) unit had responded to that location to aid a disabled motorist. The SSP unit parked his vehicle on the right shoulder with its sign board and amber emergency lights activated. The SSP unit was in the process of setting out traffic cones for the safety of the disabled motorist when a green Mustang traveling north on I-95 struck the SSP employee. The Mustang then fled the scene.

Thanks to eyewitness accounts and assistance from local law enforcement, state police have detained an individual for questioning in this incident.

The SSP unit, an adult male, was transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital and is being treated for serious injuries.

The incident remains under investigation at this time.

Traffic
Residents get a glimpse of a future commuter ferry service for Woodbridge

WOODBRIDGE — About 40 people gathered at Harbor View conference center in Woodbridge at 7 p.m. Thursday for the capstone event of a daylong series of events to discuss the future of a passenger ferry that could, someday, provide commuter service between Prince William County and Washington, D.C.

“We need to use our region’s last unused highway, the Potomac River,” said Prince William Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, whose long pushed for the creation of a “fast ferry” from Woodbridge to Washington.

Thursday’s Fast Ferry Summit was the second ferry summit Principi has held while in office. The first one was in 2009.

He kicked off the event noting that ferry service was once popular among area plantation owners between 1760 and 1790.

“George Washington built a wooden bridge to get across the river. It washed out. What did they do next? Ferry service,” said Principi.

He then introduced a panel of experts who discussed ferry service operations, challenges, and the likelihood of a new fast ferry in Woodbridge.

‘Like a Rubix cube… there are a lot of challenges on the Potomac’

Capt James Barnberger, with the U.S. Maritime Administration Department of Direct Risk Analysis, said that while there of hundreds of water taxi options in New York City, bringing a commuter ferry to Prince William County will have a unique set of challenges.

“Like a Rubix cube… there are a lot of challenges on the Potomac, but in time you can overcome them. This is not an easy thing to do, I know because I was part of a lot of successful operations in New York, and I was apart of an operation that didn’t make it here on the Potomac River.”

Some of the larger challenges outlined by Barnberger include environmental concerns, getting people to change their commuting habits and abandon their car for a ferry, and cost. (more…)

Traffic
I-95 express lanes extension public hearing to be held Sept. 25

From Virginia Department of Transportation:

The public is invited to attend a location and design public hearing for the I-95 Express Lanes Fredericksburg Extension project next week to review the proposed design and submit comments.

The I-95 Express Lanes Fredericksburg Extension project would extend I-95 Express Lanes approximately 10 miles from Route 610 (Garrisonville Road) to the vicinity of Route 17 (Warrenton Road) in Stafford County.

As part of this project, new access to the Express Lanes corridor is proposed in the vicinity of the Route 17 and Route 630 (Courthouse Road) interchanges along Interstate 95. New access is also proposed on I-95 at Exit 148, which connects with Russell Road near Quantico Marine Corps Base.

The extended Express Lanes would connect to the I-95 Southbound Rappahannock River Crossing project. The Rappahannock River Crossing is doubling the capacity of I-95 southbound to six lanes from just north of Route 17 to just south of Route 3 in Fredericksburg.
(more…)

Traffic
Speeding fines are going up on Featherbed, and possibly Featherstone

GAINESVILLE — Drivers on Featherbed Lane watch out: Fines for speeding will increase.

New signs are warning drivers an additional fine of up to $200 will be installed along the two-lane thoroughfare in western Prince William County. According to county documents, based on the number requests from residents for speed enforcement, as well as speed studies completed in the area, “Featherbed Lane has a documented speeding problem.”

Three new signs warning of the higher fines will be placed along the route, from Sudley Road to Route 29. The road will keep its 25 mph speed limit.

The fines collected could generate additional revenue for the county, according to county documents.

One of the state requirements for the signs to be installed, county officials noted they received a petition requesting the new signs be installed, signed by more than half of the residents who live in the area.

Signs notifying residents that county leaders were seeking comments from residents about the new increased speeding fines signs were posted along Featherbed Lane between July 17 and 31. No one commented, county documents state.

The new signs should be installed in about a month. County late this year leaders will also consider installing similar signs along Featherstone Road in Woodbridge, according to Steve Stevens, at the Prince William County Transportation Departement. (more…)

Traffic
Residents examine Route 28 Manassas bypass, unintended consequences

MANASSAS PARK — Extending Godwin Drive across the Bull Run River into Fairfax County is shaping up to be the most popular idea to relieve congestion on Route 28.

But some residents question whether four-and-a-half mile road, with and its nearly $200 million price tag, will do anything at for congestion relief on Route 28 in Manassas.

The roadway has become Northern Virginia’s most congested corridor.

Dubbed “Alternative 2B,” the proposed road would extend Godwin Drive from Sudley Road near the Manassas Mall, between the Lomond neighborhood in Prince William County and residential neighborhoods in Manassas Park, across a new bridge over the Bull Run River connecting to Route 28 in Fairfax County.

About 200 people gathered Thursday night at the Manassas Park Community Center to gain insight, and to give input to local officials. Several large project display boards lined the room showing where roads could go, and whose homes could be at risk.

Prince William County Coles District Supervisor and Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) Chairman Marty Nohe stressed no decision has been made on where to place any new road.

“I couldn’t stand here and look you in the eye and tell you there won’t be impacts from this project. There will be impacts, and some will be impacted more than others,” Nohe told the crowd. “We won’t see these big maps change. We will see a more detailed map.” (more…)

Traffic
Route 28 improvement community meetings start tonight

MANASSAS PARK — Though a dinosaur, the Tri-County Parkway remains in Prince William County’s Comprehensive Plan — for now.

The road has been talked about for more than 12 years and will probably never be built.

The county’s board of supervisors on Tuesday declined to remove the road from its comprehensive plan ahead of two community meetings, the first of which is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Manassas Park Community Center at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park.

Prince William leaders opted to hear from constituents before removing the parkway that would have taken drivers from the intersection of Sudley Road and Godwin Drive in Prince William County north through Fairfax County, terminating in Loudoun County.

Instead of the Tri-County Parkway, a plan to extend Godwin Drive from the Sudley Road to Route 28 at the Fairfax County line is one of three alternatives to be discussed at tonight’s meeting. Two others include widening Route 28 in its existing right-of-way, and extending Euclid Avenue from Manassas north to Orchard Bridge Drive, creating a Route 28 bypass, of sorts. (more…)

Traffic
Prince William must ax old Tri-County Parkway if it hopes for funding for Godwin Drive Extended

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY — Out with the Tri-County Parkway and in with Godwin Drive Extended.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday could decide to remove the Tri–County Parkway, a limited-access highway from Manassas to Loudoun County conceived 12 years ago but never built, from Prince William’s comprehensive plan.

The Tri-County Parkway would have carried vehicles from the intersection of Route 234 and Godwin Drive to Loudoun County Parkway. The planned road is not to be confused with the on-again, off-again project, the Bi-County Parkway from Dumfries to Dulles Airport.

Removing the Tri-County Parkway from the comprehensive plan would allow supervisors to replace it with a new road called Godwin Drive Extended. This planned roadway in Prince William would traverse nearly the same path that was planned for the Tri-County Parkway along the border of Manassas, however, instead of taking drivers all the way to Loudoun County it would end at the border of Prince William and Fairfax counties at Compton Road. (more…)

Traffic
Labor Day vacationers expected to fill E-ZPass Express lanes

Long-distance travelers use the E-ZPass Express Lanes on Interstate 95.

And the operators of the lanes said they’ll be ready for them, Today via a press release, they’re warning other drivers to be ready for them, too, this Labor Day weekend.

“Last Labor Day, the busiest getaway travel times on the regular I-95 lanes and the 95 Express Lanes was Wednesday between 4 to 7 p.m. and Thursday between 2 to 6 p.m. As such, drivers traveling along the 95 Express Lanes corridor over Labor Day weekend should prepare for heavy traffic volumes,” according to a press release.”

Beginning Tuesday, September 5, the start of the weekday morning reversal will shift from 10 a.m. back to 11 a.m. Here’s what drivers can expect Labor Day weekend:

Thursday, August 31: Southbound reversal begins at 10 a.m.
Friday, September 1: Southbound reversal begins at 10 a.m.
Saturday, September 2: Lanes reverse to northbound at 2 p.m.
Sunday, September 3: Lanes remain northbound
Monday, September 4: Express Lanes remain northbound all day
Tuesday, September 5: End of early summer reversal – southbound reversal now begins at 11 a.m.”

A survey conducted by toll lanes operators in May found 40% of users travel the E-ZPass Express Lanes when traveling to vacation destinations.

Let’s transform VRE from a commuter rail system into a run-trains-throughout-the-day transit system

Editors note: Potomac Local occasionally publishes opinion letters from our readers that address issues of broad community impact.

On September 7, a public meeting at the Manassas Park Community Center will highlight proposals to construct a new four-lane bypass around Manassas. 

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), City of Manassas, and Prince William County are now proposing solutions for traffic congestion on Route 28 (see http://www.route28study.com).  All the choices appear to be based on what they’ve done in the past.

“Build more roads” has been the solution to Northern Virginia traffic congestion since the Shirley Highway (now Interstate-95) was built to the Occoquan River in 1949 and expanded to four lanes in 1952.

How’s that worked, so far?  Is traffic flowing smoothly.  Think traditional solutions will fix future problems too?

It is now 2017.  Is it smart to assume Northern Virginia will continue its pattern of sprawl development, based on cars, for another 65 years – so we should build even more roads?

Hmmm, let’s pretend it is 1910.  Should we assume that the horse-and-buggy business would boom for another 65 years and build more stables? (more…)

Traffic
In a growing downtown, Manassas confronts its parking problems

MANASSAS — New signs designed to make it easier to find parking in Downtown Manassas could be installed before Christmas.

The new blue signs with a large “P” printed on them, the international symbol to denote vehicle parking, will replace the traditional brown signs that match other street signs in downtown.

The news came Tuesday morning August 29 as city officials met with a handful of business owners who showed up at CENTERFUSE to discuss the downtown parking situation at a special program called “To Park or Not to Park.” While there, business owners told leaders their customers preferred parking on street side parking spaces, many of which have time restriction of 15 minutes, two or four hours.

They also said they want to make the city’s downtown as friendly to drivers as possible to ensure shoppers and diners keep coming back. (more…)

Traffic
Old Centreville Road bridge closer to completion

MANASSAS PARK — A two-lane bridge is back to normal.

The Old Centreville Road bridge over the Bull Run River was scheduled to reopen to traffic in both directions Saturday morning, Aug. 26.

Since February, traffic along the Mansssas Park thoroughfare has been reduced to one lane and has been controlled in both directions by temporary traffic signals. The signals were scheduled to be removed Saturday. A VDOT spokeswoman said all remaining bridge work would be completed using flaggers Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Friday: 9 a.m. to noon.

This $4 million project aims to replace a two-lane bridge on Old Centreville Road built over the Bull Run River in 1968 with a new bridge. The project should be complete this fall. (more…)

Traffic
$59 million Haymarket diverging diamond intersection safer, adds capacity

HAYMARKET — The orange cones are gone, and a new interchange in Haymarket is officially open.

Northern Virginia’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange, or DDI — where traffic is shifted to the opposite side of the road as vehicles pass through the intersection — carries drivers on Route 15 across Interstate 66.

The $59 million interchange took about two years to build, adds capacity to the road, reduces congestion, and improves safety by eliminating the need to make left turns in front of oncoming traffic.

“More than twice the number of cars can pass through this intersection then could pass through a traditional diamond interchange,” said VDOT District Construction Engineer Bill Cutter, who lauded the project for opening on time and budget. (more…)

Traffic
Traffic study complete for proposed Kaiser South medical hub

WOODBRIDGE — If Kaiser Permanente builds a new medical campus, its patients are sure to follow.

The 335,000 square feet Kaiser South Northern Virginia Hub campus would be located on Minnieville Road, east of Caton Hill Road in Woodbridge. A new traffic analysis of the Minnieville and Caton Hill roads in the proposed development area shows about 530 trips to the center would be made during the morning hours and about 580 in the afternoon.

On a Virginia Department of Transportation-rated scale of A being the best and F the worst, the largest nearby intersection at Minneivlle and Caton Hill roads today operates at Level of Service D in the mornings, where there are a lot of cars but drivers can easily maneuver around the intersection. In the afternoons, it’s Level E where conditions are worse.

By 2020, traffic at the intersection will worsen, according to the study, with the intersection operating at Level E during the morning and afternoon peak rush hours, with some lanes operating at Level F. The study takes into account for 2% growth in traffic related to population growth in the area between now and 2020. (more…)

Traffic
20 years in the making, Arkendale project on track to speed up train service

QUANTICO — Nine miles of new track and improvements to Quantico’s rail station is underway and are hoped to help alleviate some of the congestion on the busy Interstate 95 corridor between Stafford and Washington, D.C.

The Arkendale to Powell’s Creek ‘third track project’ on the Potomac River is a $115 million-dollar investment of federal and state funds to benefit intercity passenger rail service in the I-95 Corridor.

Part of a larger initiative, The Atlantic Gateway, the Arkendale project includes construction of a third track between Richmond and Washington. The third track segment will be used to enhance the performance schedule for intercity passenger service, high-speed passenger rail service, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter service while preserving freight operations by allowing trains to meet, pass or overtake other trains.

Project improvements also include structures such as under-grade and overhead railroad bridges, railroad crossings and signal systems.

Improvements to Quantico Station include conversion of a side platform to an island platform with a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks, enabling all three tracks to serve the passenger station. (more…)

Traffic
Courthouse Road drivers will see new stoplight, lower speed limit

STAFFORD — A new stoplight will be erected along Courthouse Road.

The light will be installed at the intersection of Courthouse Road and Liberty Knolls Drive in Stafford, at one of the entrances to Colonial Forge High School.

From the Virginia Department of Transportation:

The signal will first be placed in flash mode the morning of Monday, Aug. 21 for 48 hours.

The signal will go into full operation at approximately midday on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

New pavement markings and pedestrian crosswalks will be installed at the intersection.

The new traffic signal is part of a project to widen Courthouse Road from two to four lanes from Ramoth Church Road to Cedar Lane and reconfigure the I-95 Exit 140 interchange to a diverging diamond.

The $185.3 million project will reduce congestion in the corridor and accommodate future growth.

(more…)

Traffic
Route 28 fix won’t mean the end of the Bi-County Parkway

MANASSAS — When it comes to fixing Route 28, it’s down to a few options.

Option 1: Widen Route 28 from four to six lanes in Prince William County to match the widening taking place across the border in Fairfax County. That option is one of the costliest, as the county doesn’t own the right-of-way and about 70 businesses in the corridor would need to razed, said Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe.

“We’ve seen that option will bring more traffic to Route 28 because you’re widening the road and therefore providing more capacity,” said Nohe.

Nohe is not only the District Supervisor where thousands of commuters each day fill a congested Route 28 to get to and from work, but he’s also the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Chairman. He’s now an expert on Route 28 congestion from Liberia Avenue in Manassas, through Yorkshire, to the Fairfax County line.

Option 2: Extend Godwin Drive from Route 234 business north along the Prince William County and Manassas line. The road would bisect the Loch Lomond and Westgate communities and would connect with Route 28 at one of two places: south of the Fairfax County line in Yorkshire, or run across a new bridge over the Bull Run and connect to Route 28 at Ordway Drive in Fairfax County.

Prince William County already owns the right-of-way for a Godwin Drive extension. It was purchased for a never-built project called the Tri-County Parkway that was supposed to take drivers to Loudoun County. To complete such an extension, some property on the Godwin corridor would need to be taken, but it is a “dramatically less” amount of property that would be needed than if the county were to widen Route 28 through Yorkshire. (more…)

Traffic
Dumfries Route 1 widening design underway

DUMFRIES — The Town of Dumfries has submitted a project application to Virginia’s SMART SCALE program, with the intent of widening Northbound Route 1 from a two-lane undivided roadway to a six-lane divided roadway.

The project area is on Route 1 north/Fraley Boulevard between Brady’s Hill Road and Route 234.

According to Claudia Llana, Virginia Department of Transportation Preliminary Engineering Manager, “The proposed Route 1 Dumfries project would extend from Brady’s Hill Road to Possum Point Road, allowing for both Northbound and Southbound traffic to be located on the existing Northbound Route 1.”

The existing southbound Route 1 (Main Street) would then have less traffic, opening up the area to street festivals and walkable downtown shops.

The proposed project is expected to ease traffic congestion during peak hours and improve roadway safety at the intersection at Routes 1 and 234. It also offers expanded bicycle and pedestrian accessibility. (more…)



Governor McAuliffe breaks ground on I-395 Express Lanes extension

Reliable and faster travel choices coming on I-395 Corridor 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and its private partner and operator of the I-95 Express Lanes, Transurban, to break ground on the start of construction of an eight-mile extension of the I-395 Express Lanes from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road in Alexandria to the Washington, D.C. border. The project provides more options for faster and more reliable travel in one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the country and expands the region’s network of express lanes. The project includes a long-term investment in transit for the corridor, through a yearly payment of $15 million (to be escalated annually) that will be paid by Transurban to the Commonwealth. This annual transit payment will support transit and multimodal initiatives benefitting the corridor.

“Anyone who travels on I-395 and I-95 today can attest that this is one of the most congested corridors in the country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Today’s groundbreaking is the first project of the Commonwealth’s larger Atlantic Gateway Initiative which aims to unlock the I-95 Corridor. The Atlantic Gateway Initiative and the I-395 project demonstrate how we can work with our public and private partners to improve the quality of life for Virginians and our visitors – and keep our new Virginia economy growing.”

Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne added, “Under Governor McAuliffe’s leadership, today’s milestone is one more step toward expanding the express lanes network in Northern Virginia, and providing travelers with much-needed travel choices to reach their destinations faster. The key benefit continues to be options, and we are ready to focus on delivering this new choice on 395.”

The I-395 Express Lanes project provides specific benefits for the thousands of commuters who work at or near the Pentagon, as well as the many carpoolers or commuter bus users transferring at the Pentagon to continue to their destination. By reconstructing the Pentagon’s South Parking area and adding new bus lanes and HOV commuter and “slug” lanes to improve traffic flow and safety for buses and carpools, the project’s benefits extend well beyond the express lanes.

Other key project features include adding a fourth regular lane on I-395 South between the Duke Street and Edsall Road Interchanges, to help relieve the congestion which occurs when I-395 shrinks from four to three lanes in this area. Additionally, the project includes rehabilitating several I-395 bridges, and building new sound walls to protect neighboring communities.

The project is anticipated to cost approximately $500 million, with a combination of private and public funds. The project is one element of the Commonwealth’s Atlantic Gateway Program, a series of major improvements to the I-95/I-395 corridor.

“We are pleased to partner with Virginia to deliver a critical missing link that will connect Express Lanes customers to new destinations along I-395 and Washington D.C.,” said Jennifer Aument, Group General Manager, North America, Transurban. “Crews will begin work right away on improvements that are going to help drivers on I-395 get home faster, while also generating funds to support new transit options. As construction begins, we encourage all travelers to stay alert to changing conditions, avoid distractions and keep an eye out for workers on the road.”

Plans to extend the Express Lanes began in November 2015 with a Framework Agreement under the 95 Express Lanes Comprehensive Agreement between VDOT and Transurban. In February 2017, after meeting specific project-delivery and financial criteria, the Commonwealth approved Transurban’s proposal to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the 395 Express Lanes extension.

AECOM Engineering Company and Lane Construction are under contract to Transurban to design and build the extended 395 Express Lanes. The express lanes are scheduled to open in fall 2019 and the other elements of the project are expected to be completed by summer 2020.

Construction of the expanded express lanes will occur largely within VDOT’s right-of-way; however, some work such as sound wall construction may require crews to access right-of-way and areas adjacent to the project corridor. Preliminary work such as geotechnical investigations and surveying began last March.

More information about the project is available at: 395expresslanes.com and virginiadot.org/395express

 

Traffic
Early relief coming for E-ZPass lanes in Stafford

STAFFORD — The southern extension of the Interstate 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes will open by October.

Delegate Mark Dudenhefer says he’s spoken with officials at Transurban, the toll operators of the E-ZPass lanes who assured him of the fall opening, which would come earlier than expected opening time frame of early 2018.

Transurban spokesman Mike McGurk confirmed the plans to open a southbound ramp of the extension before the end of 2017 and the northbound ramp in summer 2018. “More information on specific timing will be shared with drivers as we grow closer to these milestones,” he stated in an email.

The single-lane extension of the Express Lanes south of Garrisonville Road will begin at the existing flyover ramp that, today, drivers must use to exit the E-ZPass lanes. When southbound traffic is allowed to use the lanes, such as weekday afternoons, the single lane will take drivers to exit ramp just north of Courthouse Road where drivers will be able to reenter I-95 south by using a left merge.

The southbound extension should alleviate some pressure during the afternoons as backups regularly occur when drivers are forced to use the flyover ramp to exit the E-ZPass lanes. (more…)

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