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Traffic & Transit

Closures Planned for I-95/395 This Weekend

Photo: Mary Davidson

Get ready for some more lane closures as part of the 95 Express Lanes starting on Friday night, between Washington, D.C. and Va. 234 in Dumfries. The lane closures are expected to be in place until Sunday morning.

Virginia Megaprojects provided a list of the planned closures:

1. Saturday morning, June 22 by 10 a.m.:

* HOV lanes open to traffic heading south from Washington D.C. to just before Turkeycock (Edsall Road), all HOV traffic will be directed to exit the lanes and merge onto the regular lanes of I-95 south.

* HOV lanes closed between the Turkeycock (Edsall Road) and Franconia/Springfield Parkway.

* HOV lanes open to traffic heading south of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway (Route 289) to Dumfries. Traffic can enter into the HOV lanes again just after the Franconia-Springfield Parkway/Newington via a left lane slip ramp.

* No access to I-95 HOV lanes via the Franconia-Springfield Parkway.

2. Saturday afternoon, June 22, by 2 p.m.: HOV lanes will be closed for reversible operations.

3. Saturday afternoon, June 22, no later than 4 p.m.:

* HOV lanes open to traffic heading north from Dumfries to Newington. Near Newington, all HOV traffic will be directed to exit the lanes and merge onto the regular lanes of I-95 north.

* HOV lanes closed between Newington and Turkeycock (Edsall Road).

* HOV lanes open to traffic heading north from Turkeycock (Edsall Road) to Washington D.C. All traffic can enter into the HOV lanes again just after Edsall Road.

Widening Routes 1 & 28, VRE on Transportation Funding List

MANASSAS, Va. – Taxes are going up in Virginia on July 1 to pay for transportation improvements across the state.

Locally, elected officials on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, and its chairman Prince William County Supervisor Martin Nohe, narrowed a list of 47 proposed transportation projects down to 33 that, if they were to be built, would cost taxpayers an estimated $500 million.

The Northern Virginia region to include Prince William but not Stafford, is set to receive just $190 million from the transportation monies 2014 from the new taxes, so local officials need to be clear when it 

comes to telling state transportation chiefs in Richmond what their traffic and transit priorities are, and so the region can effectively complete for the available funds. 

The most important projects include:

1. Widen U.S. 1 from four to six lanes in Woodbridge from the Mary’s Way to Featherstone Road– $53 million

2. Widen Va. 28 in Bristow form two to four Lanes from Linton Hall Road to Fitzwater Drive, and relocate the intersection of Linton Hall Road and Va. 28 — $56 million.

3. Funding a capacity study to examine potential growth of Virginia Railway Express to Gainesville and Fauquier County.

4. Add a second platform at the Rippon Virginia Railway Express station in Woodbridge.

5. Purchase nine new rail cars for Virginia Railway Express.

In all, Prince William County is expected to receive between $9 and 11 million per year from the increased tax, and Manassas will net $1.3 million.

In total, $295 million is expected to be made available for statewide transportation funds. Nohe said $85 million of it will be dispersed to the localites.

Once it’s here, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will decide what to do with 70% of the state funds, while the remaining 30% will doled out to localities to use as they see fit.

The funds must be spent on transportation projects or localities could lose the money. Towns in Northern Virginia with 3,500 residents or more, including Dumfries, are responsible for maintaining their own roads, said Nohe.

The funds come as Prince William County residents already spend more in taxes than for transportation than any other jurisdiction in the state, said Nohe. Prince William’s highly successful road bond program approved by voters in 1988 — one of the first in state history — has funded construction of roads like Prince William Parkway and the widening of U.S. 1 in Triangle.

Delegate Bob Marshall, R- Prince William, Manassas Park, said that under the new transportation funding formula, Prince William residents will actually continue to pay more than others because of the road bond projects, because the county must maintain its level of transportation funding or now risk losing dollars to other localities.

“The General Assembly shot Prince William taxpayers in the back when they passed this bill. Road bond projects in Prince William set the bar, now we have to maintain that level of funding,” said Marshall.

Virginia’s General Assembly in February passed sweeping transportation reform that means sales tax in the state will rise from as much to as much as 6% in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and a new commercial and industrial tax will be enacted ($.125 of every $100 of assessed property value) as part of the transportation reform package.

The state’s 17.5 cent per gallon as tax was eliminated in favor for a tax at the wholesale level. Owners of hybrid vehicles will also pay $100 annual registration fees, a significant increase over prior years.

*This story has been corrected. NTVA recommended widening U.S. 1 from Mary’s Way to Featherstone Road. The effort to widen U.S. 1 between Mary’s Way and the Occoquan River has already been approved by state officials. 

Marshall: Bi-County Parkway ‘Cannot Stand on its Own’

MANASSAS, Va. – At a public meeting held this month about the proposed Bi-County Parkway that would link Prince William and Loudoun counties, Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, Manassas Park, said he’s not having very much luck hearing back from transportation officials in Richmond after posing questions about the roadway.

Marshall has been critical of the proposed roadway at various public meeting.

“This road cannot stand on its own. It’s a political road for developers that are paying back politicians who have been getting money,” said Marshall.

The Bi-County Parkway is apart of Virginia’s North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance — a 45-mile transportation corridor from Interstate 95 in Dumfries to I-66 in Manassas, to Dulles Airport and ultimately to Va. 7 in Loudoun County — where a new limited access highway could be built to provide better connectivity to the airport. As currently projected, the roadway would traverse a portion of Manassas National Battlefield.

Express Lanes Work Heating up in Prince William

Mega Mike 

The summer is heating up, and so is construction on the 95 Express Lanes.

Mega Mike’s readers might want to take note of some of the activities along Interstate 95 in the Prince William County. Most of the work is occurring in the overnight hours, but there will be lane closures in the day as well, outside of the rush hours.

In the next few weeks, construction work includes:

– Two lanes between Dumfries Road (Route 234) and the Joplin Road overpass will be closed overnight from 10:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. for work on the 95 Express Lanes overpass.

–  Mobile lane closures are scheduled between the Cardinal Drive overpass and Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.

–  Foundation and pier work will continue on an overpass just south of Dumfries that will carry the 95 Express Lanes traffic exiting to Joplin Road. Overpass bridge construction requires four steel girders to be placed over the I-95 general purpose lanes. Girder preparation and installation from abutment to piers will require multiple lanes closed on I-95 south tentatively scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights, June 28-29, weather permitting. Motorists will be detoured to Route 234 East (Exit 152), right onto U.S. 1 South, right on Joplin Road back to I-95 South.

–  The Telegraph Road Bridge over I-95 in the Quantico area was demolished in April, and motorists are using Russell Road to access Quantico. This detour will be in place for the next seven months.

Further north, in southern Fairfax County, motorists should be aware of the I-95 work just south of the Fairfax County Parkway overpass near the Newington exit (Exit 166), and the U.S. 1 exit (Exit 161). The following activities will have an impact I-95 traffic, particularly in the overnight hours and midday, outside rush hours.

–  June 12, demolition and steel beam placement at the Furnace Road Bridge, requiring closures on Furnace Road but not impacting 95 traffic.

– Steel placement for the 95 / U.S. 1 is scheduled for June 12, requiring overnight ramp closures from I-95 south to U.S. 1 south.

–  Early August, possible steel beam placement at the Alban Road Bridge south of the Fairfax County Parkway overpass will require a 95 south detour.

That’s it from Mega Mike for now, but just remember – buckle up, no cell phones when driving through the construction zones, and stay safe out there.

 

Ramp to U.S. 1 South Closing for New Steel

I-95 south in Woodbridge. (Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – New steel is being erected as part of the 95 Express Lanes Project tomorrow night, and that means the southbound ramp from I-95 to U.S. 1 at Woodbridge will close to traffic.

The closure will start at midnight Thursday, June 13 and end at 5 a.m. Friday, June 14. Drivers needed to access U.S. 1 south will be detoured to Prince William Parkway where they will be able to follow signs and head east toward U.S. 1, said Virginia Megaprojects spokesman Steve Titunik.

Police will be on site for the safety of drivers, and if bad weather prevents the work from being conducted the work will be completed on Saturday night, said Titunik.

Rail, Bus Options to be Studied for U.S. 1

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Transportation officials will consider new modes of transportation in the U.S. 1 corridor from Fairfax to Prince William counties as a new study is set to get underway.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced Monday officials will spend 12 months speaking with the public and looking into transportation solutions such as light rail, bus rapid transit, and a possible extension of Metro into the congested corridor. The area of U.S. 1 between the Capital Beltway in Alexandria and Va. 123 in Woodbridge will be examined, as it his home to two major military installations, Fort Belvoir and Quantico, several commercial development and residential developments, and miles of commuter traffic.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to improve transportation in the Commonwealth. Route 1 in Northern Virginia has long been known as a highly congested roadway and any resident of the area knows well the delays that are frequent and all too common,” McDonnell stated in a press release.

Looking for alternatives to using cars, an analysis that will be crafted as part of the study will look at the impact any changes will have on the existing roadway, look at densities that would support mass transit, and develop ridership projections for new mass transit that could be added to the area.

The study is expected to involve residents, business owners, elected officials, and government staff from both Fairfax and Prince William County, the press release states.

Delegate Mark Dudenhefer, R-Stafford, Woodbridge, said this is good news for commuters that live, travel, and work in the corridor.

“I look forward to working with all of those involved to find and promote solutions to the ongoing traffic problems along Route 1,” Dudenhefer stated in an email to constituents.

Officials said it will take 12 months to plan the study.

Bus Costs Rising as PRTC More Reliant on Fare Box

Many riders begin and end their commutes, or transfer to other PRTC buses at the agency’s Transit Center in Woodbridge.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – Starting this summer, riders who use the local and commuter buses in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park will pay more for the service.

Effective July 1, the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) is will increase fares for local and commuter services. The transit agency provides a series of OmniRide commuter bus services that take commuters to Arlington and Washington, and OmniLink – a local bus service within Prince William and Greater Manassas.

In April, PRTC held public hearings on the proposed fair increase, and its Board of Commissioners approved the increase as proposed in a meeting on June 6.

On PRTC’s Tysons Express buses, which provide service in HOV and Capital Beltway Express Lanes between Woodbridge and Tysons Corner, promotional fares will increase, but will continue to be available. The cost of a one-way trip will cost the same as a one-way Metro Direct trip — $2.90 with a SmarTrip card, an increase of 25 cents from the current fare, or $3.60 when paying with cash, an increase of 30 cents.

The Tysons Express service is entirely funded by Virginia Megaprojects, which is a collaboration of the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The new rates will reflect an approximate 10% increase for both SmarTrip and cash fares using the OmniRide, Metro Direct, OmniLink and Cross County Connector services. OmniRide fares for passengers using SmarTrip cards will increase 50 cents from $5.25 to $5.75, and will increase 70 cents for customers paying cash, from $7.00 to $7.70.

Fares for both the OmniLink and Cross County Connector will increase from $1.20 to $1.30, with the cost for a day pass increasing from $2.50 to $3.00. A weekly pass using either service will increase from $11.00 to $12.00.

Reduced fares for passengers 60 and older, persons with a disability, or persons presenting with a valid Medicare card will remain available, but will also increase to half of the regular fare, according to a press release from PRTC.

Also according to a press release, this is PRTC’s first fare increase since July 2010 and is necessary to contain the amount of increased subsidy required from three local jurisdictions that sponsor PRTC bus services. Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park rely on their 2.1% motor fuels tax collections in order to subsidize the service, with the majority of that subsidy coming from Prince William, as the sole sponsor of PRTC’s commuter bus services. Prince William also covers most of the subsidy required for local bus service expenses.

Constraining the local subsidy is necessary because Prince William County’s motor fuels tax generates less revenue than what the County currently spends for PRTC bus and Virginia Railway Express rail services combined, said PRTC officials. Because the tax yield is less than the County’s annual cost for transit service sponsorship, the shortfall is being covered by tapping fuel tax reserves built up in prior years as a stop-gap solution, according to a press release.

To cover the remaining cost of its services, PRTC must rely more heavily on fare revenue, which covers only a fraction of the cost of operating service, and an anticipated increase in state assistance resulting from the passage of transportation funding legislation during the last General Assembly session.

In its FY 2014 budget, PRTC has envisioned service changes that will help to counteract longer running times and overcrowding, as well as restructuring plans for PRTC’s westerly OmniRide services. Keeping in mind the limitations on available public funding, these projected modifications would bring bus service to the new Cushing Road commuter lot at Prince William Parkway and I-66 when it opens in July 2013 and also allow Metro Direct buses to serve the new Tysons Metro station when the Metrorail’s Silver Line opens.

In addition, restructuring would enable PRTC to shift existing resources to create a new OmniRide route with direct service from Gainesville to Washington, D.C.

Expect Increased Police Patrols on U.S. 15 This Weekend

Photo: Mary Davidson

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – U.S. 15 in Virginia is a popular north-south route for travelers hoping to sidestep the state’s busy Interstate 95 corridor. The road runs from the North Carolina border connecting towns like Haymarket, Warrenton, and Leesburg. Ultimately it links South Carolina to New York, and this weekend police from all six jurisdictions in which the highway traverses will increase patrols

on U.S. 15 in an effort to save lives.

Between midnight Friday through Sunday, police from six agencies including Virginia State Police, will be out conducting sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols as well as other law enforcement duties in an effort to slow drivers and combat criminal behavior along this heavily traveled, non-interstate highway.

The enforcement efforts marks the first time police in all six states in which U.S. 15 is located have worked together on a major enforcement task like this. Last year, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia authorities launched the first such joint operation to patrol the highway and netted 509 speeders and 16 reckless drivers, according to Virginia State Police. In addition, seven drunken drivers in were arrested in Virginia and Maryland, and a total of 24 felony arrests to include two drug arrests were made.

Crashes are up 23 percent over 2011 along Virginia’s 230-mile stretch of U.S. 15, police said. There were nearly 400 crashes along the highway in Virginia last year, up from 2011’s 318 crashes. Five of the crashes in 2012 were fatal, said police.

U.S. 15 in Virginia alternates between a 2-lane and 4-lane road configuration. In Fauquier and Prince William counties, a portion of the roadway is shared with U.S. 29 before splitting off north toward Haymarket and Loudoun County.

If Fairfax FBI Site Fails, Prince William a Second Choice

Prince William County supervisors Maureen Caddigan (Potomac District) and Corey A. Stewart (At-Large). (Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com)

In the process to relocate the FBI’s national headquarters to Virginia, it appears the CIA was here first.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and members of a bipartisan congressional delegation in April unanimously chose a site in Fairfax County next to the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station for the new FBI headquarters. Now home to a massive warehouse owned by the General Services Administration, State officials assured the federal government the site has quick access to transit, and to Interstates 95, 395, and the Capital Beltway, and would meet criteria set forth by the General Services Administration.

Virginia, and Maryland with their chosen site in Prince Georges County, have been in the competition for the federal agency and its 11,000 jobs since last fall. The idea is to move the agency out of its aging J. Edgar Hoover Building offices in Downtown Washington and move personnel to a new building in one of the two nearby states.

But the mere existence of the warehouse in Springfield, which can be seen from I-95 and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway, and is said to be the largest wooden truss building this side of the Mississippi River, may stifle any chances the area once had of becoming the new home of the FBI. 

It’s rumored that the facility has a large underground room complete with lead-lined walls, accessible only by elevator, and is complete with a state-of-the-art communications system, according to the Washington Post.

But just 30 minutes south, at a new housing development called Potomac Shores on the banks of the Potomac River in Woodbridge, could be the next best choice for the FBI’s national headquarters.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart is collecting signatures of locally elected officials in hopes they’ll join him in urging the feds to consider Potomac Shores as an alternative space because of its proximity to Quantico, the FBI Academy, and an FBI screening facility at Manassas Regional Airport. Prince William is also home to the agency’s Northern Virginia bureau. 

“Should the Springfield site be deemed unsuitable by the GSA for the new FBI headquarters, we believe it would be prudent to have another specific site ready to immediately advance for this critical project to secure it for Virginia. That alternative site is clearly the Potomac Shores development site in Prince William County,” Stewart’s letter states.

With some 4,000 planned new homes at Potomac Shores, a walkable mixed-use business and shopping district, hotel, a planned Virginia Railway Express station, and access to express lanes currently under construction on I-95, Stewart said those who would work at the building would have a “reverse commute” in a secured space next to the river underneath Quantico’s controlled airspace.

Additionally, 75% of Northern Virginia’s workforce lives within a 30 minute rush-hour commute of Prince William County, according to Stewart’s letter.

As Stewart is a Republican, he’s also got support from across the aisle.

“The important thing here is that we all work together to ensure we get the FBI’s national headquarters in Virginia, no matter what district it’s located in,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Farifax, Prince William.

Another site that’s been proposed sits in Loudoun County, just off the Dulles Toll Road near Dulles Airport where Metro’s new Silver line is slated to run.

But for those eager to move on from the Fairfax County site, one Fairfax County official said taxpayers would save money if the FBI would locate to the GSA property in Springfield as the land is already federally owned. And, if Prince William County trades land from a developer for the FBI site, it’s possible the county could forgo millions of property tax dollars.

“The fact they’re working so hard to discredit this site tells me this site is the front runner,” said Fairfax County Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay.

McKay says the warehouse, which sits in his district, is primarily used to house documents for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and office furniture for federal agencies, does have it’s challenges. He said security is an issue as the warehouse has several independent tenants coming and going on the property who are not controlled by the federal government, but added those issues could be resolved through a partnership with the FBI.

“This site was selected by the governor in April, and since then there’s been no been big revelation that has happened to change things over the past two weeks,” said McKay.

Bi-County Parkway Dropped from Prince William’s VDOT Priorities List

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. – The Bi -County Parkway is not on a short list of approved road projects sanctioned by Prince William County officials.

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday removed the planned 10-mile extension of Va. 234, known as “234 extended,” that would largely carry traffic from Va. 234 at Interstate 66 around Manassas National Battlefield Park and link Prince William and Loudoun counties.

The roadway project is ultimately a part of the hotly debated “North South Corridor of Statewide Significance” — an overall 45 –mile corridor that could become home to a highway that links I – 95 in Dumfries to Dulles Airport, and Va. 7 in Loudoun County.

Prince William County officials will now meet with state legislators at a special session June 18, where they are expected to hear more information about the “North-South Corridor.”

It it’s built, a highway along the “North-South Corridor” could see the conversion of Va. 234 to a limited access roadway, and it would carry cargo traffic to and from busy Dulles Airport through Prince William County to I-95.

Supporters of the road say it will spur business in Prince William County and Manassas, and allow for better connectivity to Dulles Airport. Opponents call it a “developer’s road” that will allow more homes to be built in Loudoun County.

Prince William Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan said she worries about increased noise levels that could come with increased freight traffic on such a highway.

“Yes it is a main road, but all of those people who have bought [homes], all those subdivisions, the gated communities, every subdivision along the way, didn’t bargain for this,” said Caddigan.

On the list of 14 priorities for primary roads over the next six years, Prince William officials said they want VDOT to focus on widening I-66 between U.S. 29 and U.S. 15 between Gainesville and Haymarket, widening U.S. 1 in Woodbridge, and building a commuter parking garage at a new baseball stadium for the Potomac Nationals in Woodbridge. The “234 extended” bypass was the only project removed from the primary road list.

The secondary roadways marked for improvement by County Supervisors on Tuesday include widening Telegraph Road in Woodbridge, paving Signal Hill Road near Manassas, and widening University Boulevard. But only the paving of Burwell Road, currently a gravel road, is funded to the tune of $127,000, said Blaser.

While Prince William Board Chair Corey Stewart wanted to add improvements Va. 28 in Yorkshire to the list– which would require changes to the county’s comprehensive plan — Blaser urged Supervisors to adopt a full and immediate list of priorities to present to state officials at VDOT.

“I think this list far exceeds the amount of funding that is available, so, in terms of adding on to it, I don’t think that’s practical if we are going to have a serious negotiation with VDOT about what are priorities list is. I think we should really establish a priorities list rather than a big ‘wish list,’” said Blaser.

 

Video: Bi-County Parkway Public Hearing

MANASSAS, Va. – A public meeting was held Monday at the Hytlon Performing Arts Center in Manassas about the proposed Bi-County, or as others call it, th Tri-County Parkway – a 45-mile road that would link Interstate 95 with Va. 7 via Dulles Airport. See the full video of the meeting below. Look for full coverage of this story tomorrow on Potomac Local News.

OmnLink Teen Summer Pass Sales Begin

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]

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Starting today, teenagers or their parents can pick up OmniLink’s Teen Summer Pass.

The permit allows unlimited local bus rides for the entire summer on all OmniLink buses that travel in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

The pass costs $30, and when you consider the price of a one-way trip is $1.20, a teen who takes at least 13 round trips on OmniLink this summer is saving money, transportation officials at the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commissions said.

Passes go on sale today at the PRTC Transit Center in Woodbridge. They’ll also be sold at the following locations:

 Chinn Aquatics and Fitness Center (cash or credit only), Monday – Thursday 5 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday 5 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 Sharron Baucom – Dale City Recreation Center (cash or credit only), Monday – Friday 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

 Ben Lomond Community Center (cash or credit only), Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 Manassas City Hall Treasurer’s Office (cash only), Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

 Manassas Park City Hall Treasurer’s Office (cash only), Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.

The pass also comes with some included discounts at the following locations:

 Potomac Nationals, Pfitzner Stadium, Woodbridge –$1 off general admission at Friday home games;

 Prince William Ice Center, 5180 Dale Boulevard, Woodbridge –$2 off public skate entry;

 Bowl America, 13409 Occoquan Road, Woodbridge and 9000 Mathis Avenue, Manassas – one free game per visit, per day;

 Manassas 4 Cinemas, 8890 Mathis Avenue, Manassas – $1 off admission (except Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and $1 off jumbo popcorn;

 Stonewall Pool, 8531 Stonewall Road, Manassas – $1 off admission.

Teenagers with a photo ID are asked to bring it with them when they come to purchase the pass. They’ll be given a sticker that’ll be applied to the front of the ID, and they’ll show it to a bus driver each time they board, PRTC states.

Those who do not have a photo ID will be issued a OmniLink Teen Summer Pass card with a sticker on it, which they’ll show at time of boarding.

Officials said the Teen Summer Pass also is educational and helps to show children the benefits of, and how to use public transportation in the area.

 

Chambers Band Together to Support Outer Beltway

Rob Clapper, President & CEO, Prince William Chamber of Commerce Val Walters, Executive Director, Dulles South Alliance Tony Howard, President & CEO, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, join for a press conference to announce a new Bi-County Parkway Partnership. [Photo: Courtesy: Susan Jacobs]

MANASSAS, Va. – Support for an outer beltway in Prince William and Loudoun counties is growing thanks to a new partnership with major business organizations in region.

A total of 12 administrations today, including the Prince William and Loudoun chambers of commerce, joined to form the Bi-County Parkway Partnership. They say the planned 45-mile road that would link Interstate 95 in Dumfries with I-66 in Manassas via a transformed Va. 234, and then beyond to Dulles Airport and Va. 7 in Loudoun County, will better position the region to accommodate an estimated 300,000 new jobs that will come to the area as population continues to grow.

“This road is about improving the quality of life in our communities by untangling our region’s transportation mess; getting traffic off our neighborhood roads, making it easier for people to get to work, school, church or the grocery store and about creating jobs,” said Prince William Chamber of Commerce President Rob Clapper.

Their support of the proposed highway project, officially known at the North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance, comes as Prince William County residents opposed to the project continue to fill seats at public meetings. They voice opposition to locally elected leaders who, in turn, tell them to complain to state officials.

Those with a vested interest in the road, which would create more truck traffic as shippers move freight to and from an underutilized Dulles Airport through Prince William County, will have another chance to voice their opinions at a meeting with the Virginia Department of Transportation Monday June 3 at 6 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

The proposed outer beltway corridor, a new highway that would link U.S. 50 to Va. 606 in Loudoun County to provide better access to the western side of Dulles Airport and future Metro stations being built there, and for a Manassas Battlefield Bypass road, will all be discussed at the meeting. Visitors will see display boards and ask questions from 6 to 7 p.m., and then they’ll move into an auditorium for a presentation and question and answer session that’s scheduled to wrap-up at 9 p.m., according a press release from VDOT.

The Manassas Battlefield, the homes around it, and the roads that carry traffic through it – U.S. 29 and Va. 234 Business – are also a heated topic in this discussion. If an outer beltway is built, a portion of it would run through the battlefield. In exchange for the land, portions of U.S. 29 and Va. 234 that currently traverse the national park will close, in agreement between the state and National Park Service. Residents argue that if portions of these two roads, and nearby Pageland Lane close under the proposal, it would negatively impact their quality of life.

And for officials at Prince William County who say their hands are tied, five organizations in a letter dated February 22, 2013 seem to disagree. The letter, among other things, questions the legal procedure in which the roads through the battlefield will be closed, and names Prince William County as a possible owner of the roads even if state and federal officials decide to shut them down, essentially making Prince William County the new owner of the portions of closed roadways.

Woodbridge Man Charged in 1 of 7 Fatal Holiday Weekend Wrecks

Photo: Mary Davidson

A Woodbridge man faces charges in a fatal crash on Virginia roads over the Memorial Day weekend – one of seven deadly crashes that occurred on state roads.

Thomas J. Smith, of Woodbridge, faces reckless driving charges in a crash that occurred early Saturday morning on Interstate 95 near Lorton. Rashid K. Humphreys, 30, of Yonkers, N.Y., was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car. He was taken to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, Virginia State Police reported.

A second passenger inside the car, Robert D. Brown, Jr., of Fredericksburg, suffered minor injuries and were not transported for treatment.

Overall, there were seven traffic deaths on Virginia roadways overt the holiday Memorial Day weekend (observed by police from midnight Friday to noon Tuesday). The number of deaths is the lowest they have been in four years, when the fatality count for the same time period was also seven in 2009.

In 2012, a total of 12 people were killed on Memorial Day weekend in traffic-related crashes. In 2008, a total of 13 people lost their lives on Virginia roads over the holiday weekend.

This year, The seven reported traffic deaths occurred in the City of Newport News, and the counties of Amelia, Carroll, Fairfax, Patrick and Southampton.

Passenger Ejected, Killed in I-95 Crash

LORTON , Va. – One man was pronounced dead after he was ejected from a car traveling on Interstate 95 at 5:48 this morning. A Honda sedan was traveling near Lorton at the 164 mile post when it ran off the right side of the highway and flipped over and the passenger ejected.

The victim was taken to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center where he later died.

The driver and a second passenger were not injured, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

There’s no word yet on what caused the crash or the identity of the victim.

Stafford’s Largest Road Bond Improvement Project Underway

With Mountain View Road behind them, Stafford Aquia Supervisor Paul Milde, Delegate Mark Dudenhefer, and George Washington Supervisor Bob Thomas break ground on a $7 million road improvement project approved by voters. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – “Immature,” “unfounded,” and “frivolous spending,” were some of the comments Mark Dudenhefer heard when he wanted to improve Stafford County’s antiquated roads.

In 2004, his 17-year-old daughter Emily was killed in a car crash on Mountain View Road. Nine years later, Stafford County celebrated the implementation of new road fixes following a $70 million voter-approved road bond passed in 2008. The very road on which Emily lost her life will be improved to help prevent others, including more than 400 student drivers at Mountain View High School, from being injured or killed in car crashes.

“This is not meant to be a sad day… this is a happy day for Stafford County because today we take a step forward out of the blame me, blame someone else for our problems, and we have now decided we are going to take charge…” said Dudenhefer.

Now a State Delegate representing portions of Stafford County and eastern Prince William, the Republican gathered with friends and county officials to break ground for improvements to the roadway to include wider 12-feet lanes and 8-feet shoulders.

A string of firsts, it’s the first major project of the county’s first road bond, and it’s the first time Stafford County residents have not waited for state help in fixing their own roads.

Following Emily’s death, a Youth Driver Taskforce convened for 21 meetings and identified roads in the county in need of improvement. All but one of them – U.S. 1 at the intersection of Potomac Creek Drive – were 2-lane roads that have not seen improvements since they were built in the early 20th century, despite Stafford’s ballooning population.

The road bond money will now be used to improve areas along Brooke, Eskimo Hill, Poplar, and Rock Hill Church roads.

On Mountain View Road – the largest of the improvements – the price tag will top $7 million and is expected to be completed next year.

Dudnehefer’s time serving on the Stafford Board of Supervisors was largely consumed with trying to advance transportation improvements in the county. He thanked some of the Supervisors he once worked with, and recalled some negative comments that strengthened his resolve.

“I had a former member of the Board of Supervisors that basically said that I was deranged and that all my views on the world were skewed because of an accident with my daughter, and while those comments hurt my feelings, it gave me more and more of a determination to move forward and step out and do something to try and help this community,” he said.

 

Opposed Va. Leaders without Alternate Plans for Outer Beltway Dubbed ‘Cowards’

Prince William County supervisors Maureen Caddigan (Potomac District) and Corey A. Stewart (At-Large). (Uriah Kiser/PotomacLocal.com)

Residents & Elected Officials Oppose Highway Project 

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – A decision whether or not to endorse an outer beltway in Prince William County will have to wait.

County leaders Tuesday deferred endorsing a list of projects for a six-year roadway construction plan which will ultimately be presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond. On the list is the “North-South Corridor of statewide significance,” also known as the Tri, or Bi-County Parkway, and known to others as a proposed outer beltway.

However they referred to it, opposition to the road continues to mount in Prince William, and so have complaints from residents who say they’ve been in the dark about plans for what would be a 45-mile road linking Interstate 95 in Dumfries to Va. 7 in Loudoun County. Opponents fear the road will spur economic development in Loudoun, not Prince William, will force the closure of small streets near Manassas National Battlefield, and lead to urban sprawl in the protected Rural Crescent.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation about this parkway,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart to a line of speakers urging the outer beltway be removed from the list of county-endorsed projects.

Stewart maintains the road will be built one way or another because the region’s population continues to grow. But to those who lined up in front of him Tuesday afternoon, he urged them to contact their state legislators instead.

“The place to stop the road is in Richmond with your State Delegates and your State Senators. You can talk to us all day long about the road, and that’s fine… but it’s a state-designed road, funded with state dollars… there’s no county money in this road,” said Stewart.

The proposed highway would transform Va. 234 from Dumfries to Interstate 66 to a limited access highway, then extend it through a portion of Manassas National Battlefield Park, through Loudoun County and ultimately connecting with Dulles International Airport and then on to Va. 7. The highway would make for a faster connection to the airport for drivers looking to catch a flight and for freight haulers carrying cargo from the airport – a major commerce hub for the state.

The residents who live on and around Pageland Lane in Prince William County, near Manassas Battlefield, have been the most vocal opponents to the highway so far. A portion of their street would close under the current highway plan, and so would portions of Va. 234 Business and U.S. 29 that run inside the battlefield park.

“You say that there is a lot of misinformation. Why is there so much misinformation? Why are we asking the questions? Why are we here talking about something that we think we can change if you say we can’t change it,” asked Shannon Gunn, who lives in Bristow.

Others who commented referred to a press conference held late last month where GOP legislators joined in opposition of an outer beltway. Residents also said they’ve heard little from the Virginia Department of Transportation about what would be a landscape-altering project.

“If you think as citizens we are uninformed or just don’t understand the rationale for this project, you’re right. Public involvement has been minimal and highly orchestrated by the proponents [of the project],” said Barry Kline.

More than just residents, Delegate Bob Marshall, R – Manassas, also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, and warned Prince William residents of increased truck traffic if the highway is built, not only near Manassas but also in the Coles and Potomac districts and at Dumfries.

“This “North-South outer beltway” was missing from December publications from VDOT. Last year, the publication did not specify the names of any roads affected, communities or postal areas that would be affected or that were mass presented to the public. You’ve got public assimilation, not public information,” said Marhsall.

The Delegate urged for improvements along I-66 and Va. 28, especially where the two roads meet in Fairfax County, as an alternative to building an outer beltway.

After Marshall left the podium, Stewart disappeared from view. When he came back nearly an hour later, he said state legislators should answer more questions about the proposed project and not leave locally elected officials twisting in the wind.

“…they want us to save them from themselves. It’s a state road, and, no offense, frankly, we need better representation at the state level and we’re not getting it right now… in both parties,” said Stewart.

Still licking political wounds from last weekend’s Republican Convention in which he lost his bid for Lt. Governor to Bishop E.W. Jackson, of Chesapeake, in what almost seemed like a campaign speech, Stewart reminded residents about a $800 million transportation bill that could mean higher taxes for those living in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. He also urged residents to question politicians  about why the Tri-County Parkway – a highway proposed in the early 2000s that was to traverse Prince William, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties — was defeated by some of the the same Republicans who now oppose this road project, said Stewart.

“Every one of those elected representatives from the state who is opposed to the road, and are not offering an alternative, is a coward,” said Stewart.

A public hearing on the proposed highway is scheduled on Monday, June 3, at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. A presentation will begin at 7 p.m. followed by a question and answer session where those who sign up to speak will be given two minutes each to make their case for or against the road.

Supervisors will once again take up their list of preferred road projects — which includes widening I-66 between U.S. 29 and U.S. 15, widening U.S. 1 in  Woodbridge, and building a parking garage at a new Potomac Nationals baseball stadium planned to open in 2015 —  until after a meeting of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board next month.

Dumfries Serves as Bike to Work Day Pit Stop

DUMFRIES, Va. -- Brian Gudmundson rode his bike to work on Friday from his home in Frederickburg to his office in Quantico. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

DUMFRIES, Va. — Brian Gudmundson rode his bike to work on Friday from his home in Frederickburg to his office in Quantico. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

DUMFRIES, Va. – Brian Gudmundson rode his bike to work on Friday.

It was Bike to Work Day in the Washington area, and he rode his all the way from Frederickburg to his office at Quantico. Along the way, he rode into a rest stop at the Dumfries Community Center next to Town Hall where water, snacks, and goodies like free “Bike to Work” t-shirts and water bottles were waiting for him.

It took Gudmundson about an hour and a half to reach Dumfries before heading to the office. He took U.S. 1, which is built for cars, not bikes.

“It was a good ride, but contending with all of the other cars along the road can be a little unnerving,” said Gudmundson.

A total of six people came to the Bike to Work Day pit stop in Dumfries where they were welcomed by Councilman Charles Brewer and Dumfries Business Association President Daniel Cosner. Cosner had his bicycle chained up to a fence post Friday while Gudmundson visited, while Brewer pointed his preferred mode of transportation – his pickup parked nearby.

The pit stop in Dumfries was organized by Community Services Coordinator Cydny Neville.

There were seven Bike to Work Day pit stops in Prince William County (including the stop in Dumfries) and one in Manassas, in Old Town’s Virginia Railway Express station. More than 10,000 commuters were expected to take part in the special annual event.

 

4 Vehicles Collide on Garrisonville Road

051713-4vehiclecrash-MDavidson600pixels

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – An accident involving a dump truck, a mail delivery vehicle, a Ford Taurus and a Nissan pick-up truck snarled traffic on Garrisonville Road and Green Acre Drive during rush hour today. A Stafford County deputy talks with both the truck drivers.  [Mary Davidson / PotomacLocalNews.com]

Truck Hauling Corrosive Material Crashes Closing I-95

1 p.m.

All lanes of Interstate 95 are open following the crash.

9:30 a.m. 

STAFFOR

D COUNTY, Va. — It’s been a mess all morning long on Interstate 95 south in Stafford County. It will remain closed at mile post 133 just before Fredericksburg until at least noon today following a HAZMAT spill.

More in a press release from Virginia State Police:

At 5:12 a.m. Friday (May 17), Virginia State Police were called to the scene of a two-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 south of Exit 133/Falmouth in Stafford County. Two southbound tractor-trailers collided with one another. The two tractor-trailers came to a stop on the right shoulder of I-95. Both tractor-trailers are upright and neither driver was injured.

 One of the tractor-trailers is hauling barrels of an organic, corrosive, liquid material. The impact of the crash caused several barrels to fall off the tractor-trailer and land in the right southbound lane. Stafford and Fredericksburg HazMat crews are on scene working to contain and clear the minor leakage from at least one of the damaged barrels.

 The southbound lanes of I-95 are estimated to remain closed until approximately noon Friday.

Crash remains under investigation at this time.

Due to the crash, traffic is being rerouted onto nearby roads, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation:

All southbound traffic is being detoured at Exit 133 to southbound Route 17 Business, and then  onto southbound Route 1. Traffic can return to southbound I-95 at Exit 130/Route 3 or Exit 126/Spotsylvania.  

Due to the additional traffic, heavy congestion is expected on southbound Route 17 Business and southbound Route 1 this morning in the Fredericksburg area.

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