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Traffic & Transit

Stafford Wants Left Turn Lanes on Route 1 at Courthouse

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Improvements also coming to Route 1 & 610, Mountain View Rd.

What’s going to make traffic run smoother on Route 1 in front of Stafford County Courthouse?

The answer is dedicated left turn lanes at Courthouse Road, and at the intersection of Bells Hill and Hope roads, according to a county report.

The stretch of Route 1 at the heart of the county is one to avoid on weekday afternoons when traffic backs up at one of the two signal lights in the area. With dedicated left turn lanes, drivers turning left will be able to pull their cars into those lanes and not stall other drivers going straight or turning right.

The Bowman Consulting Group will be paid $798,431 to engineer the left turn lanes plan, according to the county report. The project will be divided into two phases – constructing first the left turn lanes at Courthouse Road, and the second is the construction of left turn lanes where Route 1 meets Bells Hill and Hope roads.

County officials say transportation is a “critical part of the county’s road improvement plan and redevelopment plan.” Several streetscape improvements, such as new sidewalks and streetlights, have been installed in the area around the courthouse.

The county is also looking at improving other failing intersections. At the intersection of Route 1 and Garrisonville Road (Route 610), officials state adding additional right turn lanes from Route 1 south to Route 610 west to cut down on congested traffic during the afternoon rush hour.

On Mountain View Road, the lanes are being widened to a consistent 12 feet wide on a 1.3 mile stretch of the two-lane road from Joshua Road to Rose Hill Farm Drive. The roads shoulders will also be wider, increasing from their current one to two feet in some places to eight feet wide throughout the 1.3-mile stretch of road.

County officials said drivers will be able to maintain a “safe” speed limit of 40 mph along the improved portion of the road when work is complete. Drivers should also notice improved curves and sight distances the roadwork ends.

Winter Advisory Issued for Prince William Ahead of Storm

Prince William County and the Greater Manassas area is now under a winter weather advisory as approaching Thanksgiving storm could bring a mix of rain and accumulating snow.

Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM TO 6 PM EST
WEDNESDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS
ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW… WHICH IS IN EFFECT
FROM 8 AM TO 6 PM EST WEDNESDAY.

* PRECIPITATION TYPE…SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS…2 TO 5 INCHES IN THE FAR NORTHERN AND WESTERN
SUBURBS OF WASHINGTON AND BALTIMORE. A COATING TO AN INCH NEAR
INTERSTATE 95.

* TIMING…RAIN WILL CHANGE TO SNOW BETWEEN 8 AND 11 AM WEDNESDAY
MORNING. THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL OCCUR THROUGH 2 PM WEDNESDAY
AFTERNOON. SNOW WILL TAPER OFF LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

* TEMPERATURES…LOWER TO MIDDLE 30S.

* WINDS…NORTH BECOMING NORTHWEST 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS AROUND
20 MPH.

* IMPACTS…ROADS MAY BECOME SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY…MAINLY
ACROSS THE FAR NORTHERN AND WESTERN SUBURBS OF WASHINGTON AND
BALTIMORE. SNOW WILL ALSO REDUCE THE VISIBILITY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE
TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED
VISIBILITIES…AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

A winter storm watch for counties to the west, including Fauquier County, has been upgraded to a winter storm warning. They could see four to eight inches of snow from this system.

The storm will impact our area on the busiest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving. More than 1 million people in the Washington area were expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this holiday to visit friends and family.

Snow in Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

Interstate 95 south at Dumfries [Photo: Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

Accumulating snow possible Wednesday night 

It was 65 degrees at 7 a.m. this morning, 30 degrees warmer than it has been 24 hours prior. After a string of bitterly cold weather, the high temperature is forecast to reach 72 today.

What’s weather is on tap for later in the week? Snow – the kind that accumulates on the ground.

At least an inch and a half is possible in the Washington, D.C. area on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. That day just happens to be the busiest travel day of the year as families head to the homes of loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The storm will begin as rain as early as Tuesday night when temperatures will be in the low 40s in our area. Those temps will drop throughout Wednesday morning into the low 30s. The weather service calls this temperature area a “critical zone” if snow lovers are going to see the white stuff from what would be the first winter storm of the season for our area.

The accumulating snow should come Wednesday afternoon when the mix of snow and rain changes to all snow for areas north and west of Washington, while areas along Interstate 95 could see lower snow totals.

AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates more than 1 million people in the Washington area will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving.

VRE Modifies Schedule for Holiday Season

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Virginia Railway Express riders: pull out your calendars and take note.

Here is the holiday schedule for all VRE trains, noting when service will be modified or canceled due to a holiday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

November 27, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Thanksgiving

November 28, 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 24. 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 25, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Christmas

December 26, 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 29-31, 2014 – “S” Schedule

January 1, 2015 – No VRE service in observance of New Year’s Day

January 2, 2015 – “S” Schedule

January 19, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Martin Luther King Jr., Day

New Sidewalk Part of Dumfries Multimodal Plan

Dumfries, Virginia, traffic, transit

New sidewalks will soon line a portion of Route 1 in Dumfries. 

Construction of the new walkway is happening now on the southbound portion of the four-lane road. Drivers can’t miss the orange barrels noting the work.

Here’s more about the sidewalks form Dumfries Town Manager Dan Taber: 

Those sidewalks are part of the multi-modal project Phase 2 that had been approved a few years ago. 

The project when completed will connect the existing short segment of sidewalk along Route 1 from Route 234 to the existing sidewalk that picks up along Route 1 across from Cathy and Harold’s Restaurant.

The sidewalk is 1,700 feet long and includes a curb, gutter, storm drain, and a retaining wall, according to a request for proposals document issued in June.

The town’s multimodal plan is listed as the top transportation priority in Dumfries, according to the town government’s capital improvement program 2010-2014. The new sidewalks will make it easier for pedestrians to walk to bus stops, shopping centers, housing, and other facilities in the town, according to the plan.

A total of $60,000 per year, from 2010 to 2014, was budgeted for multimodal improvements, according to town documents.

Stafford Airport Runway Extension Means More Planes

The Stafford Regional Airport wants to extend its runway at an estimated cost of $8 to $12 million.

The project would bring more air traffic to the airport from the north, and opponents worry it would bring more airplane noise to surrounding neighborhoods.

Facilities manager Ed Wallis said that with the growth and use of the airport in its current operations, the extension has already been a part of their master planning process.

“Currently the airport runway traffic pattern is all to the south. A normal airport has traffic on both sides of the runway…there’d be very few aircraft on that side of the runway…we wouldn’t come near the areas [Sterling is] worried about,” Wallis said.

A longer runway would also mean aircraft taking off from the airport could carry more fuel and reach destinations further away, such as the U.S. west coast.

“Right now, on a hot and humid day, one of the largest aircraft that use [the airport] could not take a full load of fuel or a full load of passengers and go to the West Coast, because the runway’s too short. By lengthening the runway, it gives planes the stopping distance they need, should there be an emergency right at takeoff.”

“We are not increasing the capability of the runway, size wise. What we’re doing is increasing the capability of the aircrafts that currently use us, to use the maximum capacity of fuel and passengers,” said Wallis.

Before any work to the runway can begin, an ongoing environmental assessment needs to be completed. Public hearings will be held in spring to discuss the findings in the assessment with the community. 

The project to extend the runway, which could top out at $12 million, would see 90% of funding from the FAA, 8% of the Virginia State Dept of Aviation, and the remaining 2% from the Stafford Regional Airport Authority, said Wallis.

This extension would mirror similar work completed at the Manassas Regional Airport in 2012. An additional 500 feet was added to their runway.

Juan Rivera, the director of the Manassas airport, understood the need for a runway extension to ensure that planes could take on a full load of passengers and fuel, that Wallis cited as a major reason for Stafford’s intended extension.

“It’s been good for [the airport]… We have not had any major issues as far as noise and safety,” Rivera said.

This comparison between the two airports could become important as some individuals are not in support of the potential runway extension. For Cord Sterling, Stafford County Rock Hill District Supervisor, there are safety and financial concerns related to the airport’s plans that need to be addressed.

“You’ve got to look at what they’re planning. They’re not only expanding it – they’re adding that Northern route. The route takes [planes] over Stafford High School and over neighborhoods,” Sterling said.

Sterling also said the plans for the runway extension contradict earlier comments made by the Stafford Airport Authority about safe use in the neighborhoods surrounding the airport.

“The Stafford Airport Authority has come out saying that the things like schools and neighborhoods are not compatible for those flight paths, that it’s a danger to people on the ground. It’s a danger to the quality of life,” said Sterling.

Sterling also pointed to the Airport’s financial dependence on subsidies from the Stafford County budget as further concern for the extension.

“I think they should just continue to operate how they’re operating. What’s the need for the expansion? [The airport hasn’t] been able to show us they can the deliver,” Sterling said, citing County money loaned for a terminal, the removal of an airplane pass and addition of fuel station at the airport.

Wallis insisted that there were no major safety concerns and that the addition of north side air traffic as they have currently planned, will not be a noise issue. Stafford County officials showed the latest plans for the runway expansion at a recent public meeting.

Rules Changing for Drivers on I-95 HOV Lanes

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The rules of the road are changing for those who use HOV lanes on Intestate 95.

When the newly built 95 Express toll lanes open in December, a 29-mile stretch of the road from Route 610 in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexnadria, to include a large portion of the existing HOV lanes, will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nearly everyone will need an EZ-Pass to use the lanes — even drivers of hybrid cars. Under the old rules, vehicles with three or more occupants, hybrid cars with a clean fuel designation printed on them, and motorcycles could use the lanes at all times. Under the new rules, motorcyclists can ride free but all other vehicles need an EZ Pass or EZ-Pass Flex.

Here’s more from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Carpoolers: 

  • Carpools need an E-ZPass Flex
  • Carpools with three or more people can travel toll-free on the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode.   
  • E-ZPass Flex works like a standard E-ZPass but allows carpoolers to switch between HOV and toll-paying modes. The switchable E-ZPass Flex lets the Express Lanes operator know which vehicles are HOV-3+ so that they aren’t charged a toll.  

Drivers of Hybrid Vehicles with Clean Fuel Plates: 

 

When the 95 Express Lanes open, hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 must pay a toll or have three people in the car to use the Lanes.  The rules affecting hybrids are as follows:

  • Hybrid drivers can ride toll-free on the 95 Express Lanes with three people in the vehicle and an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode; or,
  • They can pay the toll with an E-ZPass if traveling with fewer than three people in the vehicle.
  • The 95 Express Lanes will end just north of Edsall Road. From Edsall Road to Washington, D.C., the HOV lanes will exist with the same rules that are in effect today. Hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 will continue to be allowed to use the HOV lanes without three people in the vehicle on the I-395 HOV lanes. For more information about the transition area just north of Edsall Road on I-395, please visit: 95ExpressLanes.com/transition

Drivers of Trucks, Commercial/18-Wheel Vehicles:  

  • Vehicles with more than two axles – including 18-wheel trucks – will not be permitted to access the 95 Express Lanes.
  • Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles may use the Express Lanes as toll paying customers or they may travel toll-free if they have an E-ZPass Flexset to HOV mode and three or more people in the vehicle.

Law Enforcement Officials: 

  • Local, state or federal law enforcement officials will not be exempt from toll and HOV requirements on the 95 Express Lanes unless in the direct pursuit of their duties, which does not include commuting to and from the workplace.
  • Law enforcement officials can contact the Express Lanes pre or post travel for trips they believe qualify as exempt.  Please contact customercare@expresslanes.com for more information.

Motorcycles: 

  • Motorcycles do not need an E-ZPass.

Unlike the existing HOV lanes, the rules of the road for the new 95 Express Lanes will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends.  Vehicles may not tow trailers on the 95 Express Lanes. HOV-3+ vehicles with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode, motorcycles and transit will have toll-free access to the Express Lanes at all times; drivers with fewer than three occupants can choose to pay a toll with E-ZPass to use the lanes on occasions when they need to get somewhere on time.

Get an E-ZPass:

Drivers can get an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex at more than 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Giant Food Stores, or at one of the E-ZPass Customer Service Centers, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at (877) 762-7824.  Visit www.ezpassva.com or call the Customer Service Center for more information – (877) 762-7824.

The 95 Express Lanes are being delivered through a public-private partnership between VDOT and Transurban with Fluor-Lane 95, LLC constructing the Express Lanes.  For more information on how I-95 drivers can use the 95 Express Lanes please visit  www.95ExpressLanes.com.  For up-to-date construction information please visit  www.vamegaprojects.com.

 

Truck Driver Dies in Highway Crash

Photo: Mary Davidson

A tractor-trailer driver was killed in a crash late Friday on Interstate 95 in Prince William County. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash Friday night (Nov. 7) in Prince William County. The crash occurred on Interstate 95 at the 149 mile marker.

 At 10:52 p.m., Virginia State Police received a call from a motorist about a disabled dump truck blocking the middle northbound lane of I-95 at the 149 mile marker. A trooper was immediately dispatched to assist the truck; however, within two minutes of the first call being received, a northbound tractor-trailer struck the dump truck. The impact of the crash caused both vehicles to overturn. 

 The driver of the tractor-trailer died at the scene. The driver of the dump truck was transported to Sentara Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The Virginia State Police Fairfax Division Crash Reconstruction Team and State Police Motor Carrier Safety Team responded to the scene to assist with the investigation. Northbound I-95 traffic was detoured off at Exit 148 onto Route 1 north. All I-95 lanes were reopened by 4:45 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 8).

 

 

Drivers Sit in Jammed Traffic at Quantico

Traffic stacks up at the main gate of Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Quantico Marine Corps Base stalls at 2 gates 

 

Drivers getting off Interstate 95 heading for the back gate of Quantico slowed early on Wednesday.

A line of cars formed on the shoulder of the northbound side of the highway before exit 148 at the Stafford / Prince William County line. Below the highway, a sea of cars sat on Russell Road with drivers all trying to make their way on to Quantico Marine Corps Base about 7:30 a.m.

Further north at exit 150 at Dumfries / Triangle, another line of cars headed for the main gate of the Marine Corps base formed on the shoulder of the highway. Surrounding roads leading to the main gate Joplin Road and Route 1 were also jammed due to the congestion.

So, what was happening to cause such big delays at both main entry points?

“There was nothing going on. Absolutely nothing,” said Maj. Andrew J. Bormann, a Quantico Marine Corps Base spokesman. “Some days it’s like that, some days it’s not.”

The congestion cleared up after drivers passed the entry gates to the base, added Bormann. Military police guard the gates and check drivers’ IDs and permits affixed to car windshields that permit military personnel and civilian employees access to Quantico.

There was no heightened security at Quantico on Wednesday, and military police were not randomly stopping drivers for security purposes, according to information provided by Bormann.

In 2013, the a federal traffic study was conducted at Quantico’s main gate and along Route 1 ad at Russell Road at Quantico’s back gate, and at nearby Boswells Corner in Stafford County. It found that the traffic operates at “acceptable” levels except in the area of Joplin Road.

If nothing is done to improve overall traffic flow in the area, all of the intersections will be overcapacity by 2040, the study states. Work is underway to widen Route 1 at Boswells Corner, and work to widen Route 1 in Triangle from four to six lanes was recently completed.

Drivers wait in delays at Route 1 and Joplin Road before entrering Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Drivers wait in delays at Route 1 and Joplin Road before entrering Quantico Marine Corps Base.

 

Heads Up: 95 Express Lanes Signs Unveiled

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Drivers on Interstate 95 north are slowing in the mornings and are looking up to see what’s ahead.

New purple signs directing drivers to the newly built 95 Express Lanes are unveiled. With black tarps removed from the overhead signs, drivers can now see they will need to queue up in the left lane to enter the lanes, and they’re warned that an EZ Pass is required to use them.

The 29-mile stretch of express lanes will run from Route 610 in Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria. New lanes have been built from Route 610 to Dumfries, and HOV lanes form Dumfries to Edsall Road will now be express lanes.

When the lanes open in December, single drivers will be able to EZ Pass or EZ Pass Flex pay a toll to use the lanes while carpoolers with three or more occupants must have an EZ Pass Flex to use the lanes.

“We want drivers to be aware that they will start to see new signage but to remember that it is business as usual – and HOV rules still apply – until the Express Lanes open,” said Susan Shaw, PE, Director of VDOT’s Northern Virginia Megaprojects.  “We need to unveil some Express Lanes signs in advance of opening given the volume of new signage for the Express Lanes and to help drivers become familiar with the new rules of the road as well as remind them to take the necessary steps to prepare for the changes by getting an E-ZPass.”

Here’s more information about what the signs say:

·                     Regulatory Signs:  These signs reinforce key Express Lanes information, such as:

–         All drivers need an E-ZPass or E-ZPass® FlexSM to use the Express Lanes – there are no toll booths or options to pay cash

–         Carpoolers travel toll-free on the 95 Express Lanes with three or more people in the vehicle and an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode

–         Buses and two axle vehicles may use the lanes.  Vehicles with three or more axles may not use the lanes at any time

 

·                      Entry/Exit Signs:  These signs guide drivers on and off the Express Lanes:

–         Entry signs have a purple banner with an E-ZPass logo and “EXPRESS ONLY”

–         Exit signs have white letters on a green background

 

·         Pricing Signs:  The 95 Express Lanes will use dynamic tolls to provide drivers with a predictable trip:

–         Drivers will see overhead pricing signs before all entrances to the Express Lanes or anytime they have a choice to use the Express Lanes or take the regular lanes

–         The displayed prices change to reflect the current toll prices.  Drivers lock in their rate when they pass under a pricing sign

 

·         Express Lanes End/HOV Lanes Begin Signs:  Drivers will see special regulatory signs at the Express Lanes/HOV lanes transition point near Edsall Road:

–         When traveling northbound, the Express Lanes end and the HOV lanes begin on I-395 north near Edsall Road:

·         To continue onto the I-395 HOV lanes, drivers must comply with HOV rules

·         Drivers that do not have three people in their car or an applicable clean fuel plate vehicle when the occupancy restriction is in effect on the I-395 HOV lanes should follow signs to exit onto the I-395 northbound regular lanes

–         When traveling southbound, the I-395 HOV lanes end and the Express Lanes begin on I-395 near Edsall Road:

·         Drivers traveling in the HOV lanes should not enter the Express Lanes without an E-ZPass

A total of 300 signs will need to be uncovered prior to the opening of the lanes. EZ Passes are being sold at various retail locations in our area as well as online.

 

3 Bus Stops Moved for Safety Reasons

New OmniLink buses that serve Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. The buses have a new look more aligned with the overall color scheme for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission. [Submitted photo]

Three bus stops in eastern Prince William County have been moved.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, operators of OmniRide and OmniLink buses, relocated the following stops in Dale City, Woodbridge, and Triangle:

- Dale & Delaney (moving 50 feet west away from intersection): Dale City OmniRide, Rosslyn/Ballston OmniRide, Dale City OmniLink
- Cardinal & Bonneville (moving 100 feet east): Montclair OmniRide
- Old Triangle & Soundview (moving 50 feet north under lamppost): Dumfries OmniLink

The stops were moved due to safety reasons, the transit agency said.

OmniRide buses carry commuters from Prince William County to areas in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

OmniLink buses carry local bus riders in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Score for Commuters: Tysons Bus Spared

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Tysons bus fares to rise Dec. 1; changes planned for Mark Center bus

 

A commuter bus from Prince William County to Tysons Corner survived the chopping block

But riders will soon pay more to use the five-year-old Tysons Express bus service. And the service on the newly planned bus from Prince William to Alexandria’s Mark Center, home to a massive federal building, won’t be as robust as originally planned.

The bus to Tysons Corner carries riders from the Woodbridge Virginia Railway Express station and commuter lot at Route 123 and Interstate 95 to Tysons via relatively new 495 Express toll lanes.

The bus service was fully funded by Virginia’s transportation department while the lanes were being built as a way to get more cars off the road during construction. With the I-495 lanes being open for nearly two years and construction complete, funding for the bus was going to be cut completely.

But the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation stepped in to keep the wheels turning.

“The decision is sure to please the dozens of Tysons Express passengers who attended a September public hearing and sent comments to PRTC urging the agency to find a way to retain a route that many describe as indispensable to their daily commute,” said Christine Rodrigo, a spokeswoman for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, the agency that operates the Tysons Express bus.

Riders currently pay “promotional” fares of $3.60 for a one-way trip on Tysons Express, or $2.90 if riders use a SmarTrip card. Starting Dec. 1, fares will increase to $7.70 if paid with cash or $5.75 with a SmarTrip card.

PRTC also plans to begin operating a new commuter bus service from Prince William to the Mark Center in Alexandria in 2016. Original plans for the new service had the bus traveling to neighborhoods in the county and commuter lots to pick up passengers.

Now, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will shift funds from the Mark Center bus to the Tysons bus to help cover the ongoing cost for the bus.

Rodrigo said PRTC had previously made plans to modify the routing of the new Mark Center bus from picking up riders at commuter lots and not in neighborhoods.

“We looked at our ridership information and saw that few people would board the bus in the neighborhood locations, and having the bus make that run would only add to our operating cost and add to the time the bus would be on the road,” said Rodrigo.

The Tysons bus uses HOV lanes on I-95 to get to the 495 Express Lanes. The HOV lanes are also being converted into toll lanes — a process that is expected to be completed by December.

The 95 Express Lanes open, all vehicles will need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the lanes. Vehicles with three or more occupants will not be charged a toll but vehicles with under three occupants may use the lanes for a fee.

The 95 Express Lanes will carry motorists from Garrisonville Road (Route 610) in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria, just before the Mark Center.

Witnesses: Truck Hit Utility Pole, Sped Away

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Power lines fell about lunch time

 

A portion of Horner Road was closed today in Woodbridge this afternoon.

Power lines fell on a portion of the four-lane road near Rawls Street about 12:15 p.m.

Witnesses said a black pick up struck a utility pole causing it to buckle and the power lines to fall onto the street. The heavily damaged truck then sped away, said two witnesses on the scene.

A police cruiser and fire truck was dispatched to the scene to close traffic. Drivers were diverted off of Horner Road and onto side streets where they could access Occoquan Road to get around the downed lines.

The Prince William Service Authority was also called to the scene after a fire hydrant was also damaged in the collision.

No injuries were reported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nevada Ranchers Could Cause Manassas Traffic Delays

Grass March - Cowboy Express ride will march through Manassas Battlefield National Park on Oct. 16. [Photo: Grass Ride - Cowboy Express Facebook page]

Horse parade to travel through Battlefield Park at 10 mph

 

Ranchers from Nevada could cause delays for the morning commute Thursday in Prince William County.

The Grass March and Cowboy Express is expected to wind its way down Route 234 where it meets busy Route 29 at Manassas Battlefield National Park. The march will begin at 4 a.m. and marchers will travel about 10 mph down the roadway on their way to the nation’s capital.

The group of ranchers from Nevada left California on Sept. 26 and have marched their way east. They’re going to Washington, D.C. to present politicians a petition to fire an employee of the Bureau of Land Management.

“The parade of horses and vehicles can only travel at about 10 mph, so motorists are advised to use caution and expect potential delays,” said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Many drivers use Route 234 to connect to Route 29 to commute into Fairfax County. A signal light at the intersection of the two major routes sits in the heart of the park and already does a fair job of backing up traffic in the mornings.

 

I-95 Express Lanes Opening in December

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Drivers urged to plan now for new toll lanes

 

Your commute on Interstate 95 is going to change sooner than we thought.

The 95 Express Lanes, or HOT lanes, from Garrisonville Road in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria will open in December. That’s about a month earlier than what we were originally told, and now drivers are being told to prepare to use the new lanes where tolls will be charged 24-hours a day but also free for vehicles with three or more occupants.

“The 95 Express Lanes are on track for an early opening which means drivers should start preparing now,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick in a press release. “The conversion from the existing HOV lanes to Express Lanes will mean changes in traffic patterns, rules of the road and an E-ZPass requirement.  The new Express Lanes will impact all drivers who travel on I-95 so it’s important that everyone educate themselves on how the 95 Express Lanes will work.”

When the lanes open, all drivers will need an E-Z Pass to use the all-electronic toll booths to enter the lanes. Unlike other toll roads in the state, the 95 Express Lanes and the 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road do not have manned toll booths.

Virginia still owns the lanes, but private firm Fluor-Transurban will operate and maintain them under a public-private partnership agreement. When work began to in summer 2012 to convert I-95’s HOV lanes to toll lanes, the lanes were extended south from Dumfries to North Stafford to create a 29-mile express lanes corridor on the highway.

A website exists for drivers who want to find out more about how to use the lanes and where to get an E-Z Pass. The lanes will feature dynamic pricing where prices will rise as more single drivers enter the lanes, and prices will fall as fewer drivers use the lanes. An E-Z Pass will lock in the variable toll rate single drivers will pay for their trip, and those rates will vary on how far drivers travel in the lanes.

Drivers with three or more occupants inside their vehicles can use an E-Z Pass Flex transponder which has a toggle switch that allows them to switch between single-driver mode and carpooler mode. Drivers in carpooling mode are not charged to use the lanes.

VDOT Erects Crane Along HOV Lanes

Commuters who use Interstate 395 can see a crane that has been erected on I-395 at the Mark Center in Alexandria. [Photo: Mike  Salmon/Virginia Megaprojects]

Crane part of Seminary Road bridge project in Alexandria 

 

At Seminary Road and I-395 near the Mark Center, this 150-foot crane will be the work horse of a multi-tiered Virginia Department of Transportation project that is underway.

This fall, the crane will be used to begin demolition of the old Seminary Road bridge, extracting beam and deck sections, and then placing new beams to rebuild the bridge.

Early in 2015, the crane will lift the beams for the Interstate 395 HOV Ramp, which will link the I-395 HOV lanes to Seminary Road. Concurrently, it will be used to place beams for the new pedestrian bridge that will span both the northbound and southbound lanes of I-395.

The crane will be dismantled by late 2015 when the improvements are completed.

Officials Move Forward with Garrisonville Road Widening

Va. 610 at I-95 in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – More of Garrisonville Road will soon be widened to six lanes.

The street serves as North Stafford’s main thoroughfare connecting nearly all of the neighborhoods in the area to Interstate 95, a major commuter route. The road will be widened from four to six lanes from Onville Road (where the road was widened from four to six lanes in 2008) to Shenandoah Drive, just past Eustace Road at a WaWa gas station.

Documents presented a meeting of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors detail more information about the project that is expected to cost $14 million:

Garrisonville Road improvements were designed in accordance with current [Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)] requirements. Basic components of the design…include the widening of Garrisonville Road to a six-lane, divided roadway, which meets current VDOT standards. The design will also provide turn lanes where warranted, curb and gutter, and a 5-foot sidewalk for pedestrians, along both sides of Garrisonville Road.The project also includes storm water management facilities, and historical and environmental analysis to meet current state and local requirements. It is anticipated that this project will severely impact at least two parcels, possibly requiring the relocation of one commercial business and two residences.

Those two properties will have to be acquired by the state before construction moves ahead.

“The project has the potential to impact one business near the intersection of Barrett Heights Road and one or two residences located on the south side of Garrisonville Road east of Dorothy Lane,” said Stafford County spokeswoman Shannon Howell. “The Department of Public Works, in coordination with our engineers…will coordinate the acquisition of the properties. There is a potential to assist with business relocation and the expenses of business relocation as part of the acquisition process.”

Construction on the project is slated to begin in January and is slated to take 18 months, said Howell.

“The average daily vehicle count on Route 610 is 74,000 vehicles per day — that is the segment between Travis Lane and Interstate 95, which is the busiest segment,” stated VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon in an email.

River Road in Stafford County Closing for Tree Removal

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A section of River Road in Stafford County will be closed to traffic on Thursday, Sept. 11 and Friday, Sept. 12 for tree removal.

River Road will close between Route 3 Business, near Chatham Bridge, and the entrance to Pratt Park between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. this Thursday and Friday. The River Road entrance to Pratt Park will remain open to traffic approaching from the Route 1 area.

A contractor will be removing trees along River Road as part of a U.S. Department of the Interior project.

Next week, River Road will close again at the same location from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 15 and Tuesday, Sept. 16. 

Reversible HOV Lanes Changing Schedule Following Intense Summer Construction

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Beginning on or about Monday, September 8, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will change the reversal times of the I-95/I-395 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to their regular hours during weekdays, to accommodate rush-hour traffic flow. The I-95/395 HOV lanes will remain open to northbound traffic until 11 a.m. and will reopen to southbound traffic by no later than 1 p.m.

The HOV lanes’ reversible operations have been following a modified schedule during the last two months, to allow the lanes to open one hour earlier for southbound traffic. This schedule change was necessary to help ease congestion on I-95 South, which was intensified due to heavy summer construction work.

Major construction remains underway along Northern Virginia’s heavily-traveled I-95/395 corridor, requiring lane closures with potential traffic impacts.  The 95 Express Lanes project, which spans from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to just north of Edsall Road on I-395 in Alexandria, is in its final months of construction, and is scheduled to open in early 2015. Additionally, work is fully ramped up on the I-95 Shoulder Improvement project in Prince William County, as well as the I-395 North Auxiliary Lane project in Alexandria.

It’s Transition Time at North Stafford Commuter Lot — Starting Monday

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – Park at the Staffordboro Road commuter lot near the Stafford Marketplace shopping center? 

There are some big changes you need to know about. Here’s the latest from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Traffic will be transitioned to a new parking section in the Staffordboro Boulevard Park & Ride lot in Stafford County beginning Monday, Sept. 8.

New parking spaces will open as the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) closes the existing Park & Ride lot for refurbishment.

This is the final stage in an 18-month construction project to add nearly 1,000 spaces to the lot. Work is anticipated to finish on time with all parking spaces open by late October 2014.  

“We encourage motorists to arrive a few minutes early on Monday, Sept. 8 to meet their carpool, vanpool or bus, or to use the new HOV carpooling pickup area,” said Michael Coffey, P.E., VDOT Assistant District Administrator for Construction, Fredericksburg District. “We appreciate the public’s patience while we finish this final phase of construction. We look forward to opening the entire lot in October with new pavement, bright lane markings, and more than 1,800 parking spaces.”

VDOT has posted a map online of the new parking section and traffic patterns that will be in place during the transition period.

What Lot Users Need to Know

  • The existing Park & Ride lot will close at 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5.
  • The existing lot will remain closed until the end of the project. VDOT is paving the lot and painting new lane markings.
  • There is no net loss of parking spaces. Before this phase of construction, 882 parking spaces were available, and 912 spaces will be available on Monday, Sept. 8.
  • HOV carpooling (also known as slugging) will move to a designated area in the new section of the lot. Signs will be posted to direct users to this pickup area.
  • Buses should collect passengers at the new bus bay area, and follow the recommended traffic patterns to enter and exit the lot.
  • The number of handicapped accessible parking spaces will double to 28 spaces.

About the Project

Construction began in May 2013 on a $12.9 million expansion of the Staffordboro Boulevard Park & Ride facility, which is maintained by VDOT.

When fully open in October, the finished lot will have 1,865 parking spaces.

While the project was under design, VDOT invited Fredericksburg area commuters to submit suggestions to promote safe and orderly traffic flow. The expanded commuter lot will include:

  • A consolidated, central location for carpool pickup and dropoff  

  • A bus pickup and dropoff bay that can accommodate 4 passenger buses

  • An extended sidewalk along Staffordboro Boulevard

  • Left and right turn lanes into a new lot entrance on Staffordboro Boulevard

  • A roundabout that connects the commuter lot to Doc Stone Road, Juggins Road and Moncure Lane, improving access management to the site. 

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