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Traffic & Transit

No Foul Play in Death of Driver Found Behind Wheel

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — It appears no foul play was involved in the death of a man found inside a car that ran off the Blackburn Road in Woodbridge.

Here’s the latest in an unedited police report:

Death Investigation – On December 12th, following an autopsy, investigators have reclassified this incident as a death investigation. The investigation revealed that the victim was involved in a crash in which his vehicle left the roadway however an autopsy performed this morning revealed no signs of trauma from the crash or foul play. Detectives have confirmed the identity of the victim as the man reported missing from Seat Pleasant, MD on Monday. The investigation continues as investigators await toxicology results from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Identified:

The victim has been identified as Frankie Neal STEWART, 57, of Seat Pleasant, MD

 

Car Hits Embankment, Driver Killed

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The driver of a Chrysler 200 was killed Wednesday morning when his car ran off the road in Woodbridge.

More in a police report:

Crash Fatality – On December 11th at 7:17AM, police responded to the area of Jefferson Davis Hwy and Blackburn Rd for a crash. The investigation revealed that the driver, and only occupant of a 2013 Chrysler 200, was traveling southbound on Jefferson Davis Hwy in the above area when his vehicle left the roadway and crashed into the embankment.

The driver of the vehicle was pronounced [dead] at the scene. The driver’s identity will be released when positively identified by the Medical Examiner’s Office. Investigation continues.

Identified:

The driver of the 2013 Chrysler 200 was identified as an adult male

 

Lanes Closing Tonight for Sign Crews

022112 sign removal

DALE CITY, Va. — Road crews along Interstate 95 in Prince William County will be working on highway signs. That means they’ll have close down some lanes to get the job done tonight.

Where they’ll be working:

Wednesday, Dec. 11 to Thursday, Dec. 12, drivers can expect overnight lane closures on northbound Interstate 95, eastbound Route 29 and Route 50. Crews will begin setting several full-span overhead sign structures and cantilever sign structures. Lane closures are as follows:

10 p.m. – 5:30 a.m.:

Northbound I-95 will close two of three lanes from Dale City to Cardinal Drive.

Crews will also be working in two areas of Fairfax County:

8 p.m. – 5:30 a.m.:

Eastbound Route 50 will close one of four lanes from the ramp to northbound I-495 to Fairview Park Drive.

10 p.m. – 5:30 a.m.:

Eastbound Route 29 will close two of four lanes from Summit Drive to the Fairfax County Parkway.

VRE Riders Can Bring Toys for Tots on Train Wednesday

121212 VRE

Manassas, Woodbridge train stations to also serve as drop off sites Dec. 14

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Riders who use Virginia Railway Express are urged to bring a new unwrapped toy with them tomorrow to the train station.

The commuter railroad in its annual “Toys for Tots” drive will collect those toys for needy children.

More in a press release:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 11th, we will hold our annual on board “Toys for Tots” drive. On that day only, all riders are invited to bring a new unwrapped toy with them on the train (morning commute only), and leave it on their seat as they detrain. VRE “elves” will collect the toys at the end of each run. Conductors will also collect checks and cash on that day for those of you who would prefer to let someone else do the shopping. (Checks should be made payable to: Toys for Tots).

Once toys, cash and checks are collected, the U.S. Marine Corps will collect all donations.

If you know you won’t be riding VRE on December 11th, feel free to drop off a toy during our Santa Train event scheduled for Saturday, December 14th.

Participating stations include: Fredericksburg, Woodbridge, Burke Centre, and Manassas.

We have participated in the Toys for Tots program for 17 years now and it’s been incredibly gratifying to know that our riders have helped so many families share in the fun tradition of opening new gifts during the holiday season.

 

Free Rides on Saturday Prince William Metro Direct Bus Extended into Spring

OmniRide bus operator Phill Robinson is one of many PRTC drivers who ferry riders to and from their destinations.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Here’s some good news for those who take the bus from Woodbridge to the Springfield Metro station on Saturdays – the service will be extended, and it still won’t cost you a dime out of pocket.

The Prince William Metro Direct Bus that runs from Woodbridge to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station on Saturdays will continue providing free service on Saturdays only through May 17, 2014.

Bus fares are covered by the state as part of the Virginia Megaprojects program overseeing the construction of express toll lanes on Interstate 95.

Beginning in September, the Metro Direct bus, for the first time, provided service on Saturday – something bus riders in Prince William County had long requested. During its three-month trial period, the service has caught on.

“When Saturday Prince William Metro Direct service started in September, we were expecting that the service would carry about 300 riders per day at the three month mark. Happily, we’ve averaged about 400 riders per day, and the high ridership mark was set on Nov. 16 with 471 passengers,” said Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo.

The Saturday Metro Direct bus starts its day at 7:35 a.m. at the PRTC Transit Center in Woodbridge, then heading down Opitz Boulevard and then onto U.S. 1 north before merging onto Interstate 95. Its return trip from the Metro station stops at Potomac Mills Mall.

The last trip from the Transit Center leaves at 8:55 p.m., and the last trip from the Metro station is 9:25 p.m.

During the week, it costs $3.60 for a regular one-way fare, $2.90 for SmarTrip users, to ride Metro Direct.

While the Prince William Metro Direct is the only Metro Direct service to run on weekends, it is one of two PRTC Metro Direct buses that travel between Prince William and Manassas and Metro stations near the Capital Beltway. The Manassas Metro Direct ferries passengers from Manassas and western Prince William County to and from the West Falls Church Metro station.

OmniLink Bus will miss 4 Dumfries Stops Today

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]

DUMFRIES, Va. — OmniLink buses in Dumfries today will miss some stops after a tree fell onto Fuller Heights Road.

According to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, the following stops will be missed:

Missed stops:

–Fuller Heights before Kerill Rd. (northbound and southbound trips)

–Fuller Heights after Perry St. (Quantico Court Apartments)

–The Lofts at Little Creek

–Fuller Heights at Bethlehem Church Rd.

Alternate stop:

–Fuller Heights near Old Triangle Rd (7-11)

 

VDOT: Northern Virginia Roads will be ‘Treacherous’ Monday Morning

It will be a slick and icy commute for those headed to work tomorrow morning.

While the snow and sleet that fell during much of Sunday has cleared the area, the Virginia Department of Transportations says more precipitation – this time in the form of freezing rain – is headed our way.

Road crews have been out all day long treating the roads. School systems in Fairfax and Loudoun counties have already canceled classes Monday.

Here’s more on what to expect on the roads Monday morning in a press release from VDOT:

More than 2,000 salt trucks and plows are working to keep roads passable in northern Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Crews are plowing as well as heavily salting roads and will continue to do so through tomorrow morning’s rush hours.

While roads are passable, ramps, bridges and underpasses are treacherous and are likely to remain so until temperatures rise sometime tomorrow morning.

“We are urging folks to stay off the road today and to delay travel in the morning until conditions improve,” said Branco Vlacich, head of maintenance for VDOT in northern Virginia. “While crews are keeping up with the storm for now, we expect conditions to deteriorate as the snow turns into freezing rain.”

Here’s information from VDOT on conditions across the state:

T he Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews have been out in force through the weekend treating roads to keep them as safe as possible. Crews will continue to work through the night and early morning hours to treat icy areas with sand and abrasives.

Currently all major roadways are clear and open with minor to moderate conditions along the I-81corridor in the northwestern region, I-66 in the Culpeper region and I-64 in the western region of the commonwealth. There are also icy patches on portions of I-95 north of Richmond

Freezing rain is expected to continue overnight for the Salem, Staunton, Culpeper, Lynchburg, Northern Virginia, northwest Fredericksburg, and far west Richmond districts. This amount of ice may cause power line issues.

Commuters are urged to call 511 or visit 511virginia.org before they get behind the wheel to get the latest information on road conditions.

 

PRTC Rolls Out New Passenger Info System, Works Out Minor Kinks

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

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A new system will provide real-time information for local transit buses.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission on Nov. 19 deployed “Transit Now,” a new technology that replaces old tech that supported the “Rider Express” email notification system that sends service alerts to passengers. The new system will be used in the same way but is directly tied into the computer aided dispatch system used by the commission’s OmniRide and OmniLink buses.

PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo states the system is used for various of reasons:

We send a variety of messages through Rider Express. Most messages deal

with issues that affect the daily commute, such as delays because of an

accident or missed bus stops because a road is closed. Here are a few

other examples of messages that are sent through the system:

–ESP in effect because of winter weather or another type of emergency

–Holiday notices

–Public hearings about the PRTC budget

–Notification about transit studies that could impact our service area

Signing up for Rider Express is free. Those who were already registered for the Rider Express service will continue to receive notifications. 

The Cedar Rapids, IA-based company Trapeze, contracted to provide the Transit Now service, is still working out the kinks. A limit on the number of characters that could be included in a message needs to be relaxed. And, those using the Internet Explorer browser to use the Rider Express System will be prompted to download Java, according to PRTC documents. These modifications were expected to be made by Dec. 5.

The transit agency sent out the following notice to passengers informing them about the change and urging them to customize their accounts for more pinpointed information: 

Am I Still Registered to Receive Messages?

If you signed up for Rider Express messages in the past, you are now registered in the new system to receive messages for all routes and categories. However, if you subscribed only a phone number and did not provide an email address, you will still receive messages but you will not be able to log on to the new system to customize your account. In order to customize and take advantage of new features, those who subscribed only with a phone number should send an email to Omni@OmniRide.com (type Rider Express in the subject line) and list the phone number you previously registered and the email address that you would like to add to your account. PRTC will contact you once your account has been updated.

What do I Need to Do Now?

PRTC recommends that you customize your account to receive messages only about the routes you use. This will also allow you to take advantage of some new features that are now available! Please visit the Rider Express page on our website and follow these instructions:

• On the user login page, click “Generate New Password.” (Your password was not saved in the old system and therefore, could not be exported to the new system.)

• Enter your previously registered email address and click “Submit.”

• Open the email that will be sent to the address you previously registered and use the computer-generated password to log on to the new Rider Express site.

• Click the “Change Login Credentials” icon and follow instructions to change your password.

• NOTE: If you previously registered more than one email address, you now have more than one account and will need to follow these steps to register each email address.

• After establishing a new password, you can customize the types of alerts you want to receive and the time periods when you receive them.

• If you bookmarked the old Rider Express page, you will need to do so again to capture the new page.

Why was the Rider Express System Changed?

Because eventually, this new system will provide you with real-time data so you can more efficiently plan your trips and know exactly when your bus will arrive! PRTC anticipates that real-time data features will be available by Fall 2014.

What New Features are Available Now?

• Find the identification numbers for the bus stops you frequently use – If you know the identification number for your bus stop, you can set up alerts and get information about that location. If you don’t know the identification number, simply enter an address or nearby intersection and you will see a map with information about all nearby bus stops.

• Receive stop-based alerts – Let’s say you want to catch a bus at 4:05 p.m. at a particular bus stop. If you activate an alert for that bus stop, you will receive an email and/or text message at 3:55 p.m. reminding you that your bus is scheduled to arrive in 10 minutes. The alert also will inform you of the scheduled arrival times for the next two buses serving that bus stop. At first, this feature will be based on scheduled arrival times; later, when real-time information is available, the alerts will be based on up-to-the-minute data.

• Get information on all routes that serve a particular bus stop – From the main Rider Express page, you can select the bus stops you use most frequently and see a listing of all buses on all routes that serve that location, including scheduled arrival times.

• See links to PRTC’s Service Updates – When you visit the Rider Express page on our website, not only will you see the features already discussed, but you also can have easy access to the most-up-to-date service advisories at a glance in the panel on the right side. Eventually this feature will also push out real-time alerts about your preferred routes via email and text message.

Virginia’s New License Plate Law Benefits Military, RV & Motorcycle Owners

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

A new law taking affect Jan. 1 will allow drivers to keep license plates on recreational vehicles, as well as those that are not driven all-year-long.

Before the law, drivers had to surrender license plates for vehicles not in use.

More in a press release from Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Starting January 1, 2014, customers who operate Virginia-registered vehicles for only part of the year may temporarily deactivate their license plates and cancel the insurance without having to surrender the plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This new law will be beneficial for owners of seasonal vehicles such as motorcycles and RVs and active duty members of the military on deployment, if the vehicle is not being used.

Customers can easily deactivate and reactivate license plates online at www.dmvNOW.com or by calling DMV at (804) 497-7100.

To reactivate the plates, customers must:

• have no outstanding tax obligations on their motor vehicle

• provide insurance policy information or pay the unisured motor vehicle fee

• pay a $10 reactivation fee (if the registration has not expired)

“This new law will be of tremendous benefit to thousands of Virginians, including our military men and women deployed overseas,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb. “It will save customers a trip to DMV by allowing them to simply go online and deactivate their plates without having to surrender them to DMV. Customers can retain their plates and reactivate them when they are ready for the vehicle to be used.”

Customers should contact DMV when vehicle liability insurance is canceled during the registration period or may face stiff penalties if the vehicle is subsequently found uninsured.

For more information, visit www.dmvNOW.com.

 

Renting a Car for Thanksgiving Travel? It’ll Cost More in Our Area

Long lines of cars streamed down U.S. 29 in Gainesville on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, as many travelers were headed out of town to reach their Thanksgiving destinations. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

GAINESVILLE, Va. — The Thanksgiving breakaway is underway. In Gainesville this early afternoon, U.S. 29 south is increasingly congested as drivers make their way from Interstate 66 onto the thoroughfare that runs to Charlottesville and to points further south.

Today is widely considered the busiest travel days of the year in the U.S. AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates 960,000 people in the Washington area – nine out of 10 — will travel by car to their holiday destination. A recent round of winter weather for the Northeast, and rain for our area, hasn’t made the trip any easier.

But for traveling using a rental car, many were in for sticker shock as car rental rates were up as much as 40% at area airports this Thanksgiving. Drivers are expected to pay an average of $71 in weekend daily rental rates, up $22 from last year.

All of this comes as rental rates in other areas across the country actually cost less than they do here. Here’s more in a press release from AAA Mid-Atlantic:

After all, the size of the nation’s car rental fleet grew to 1.85 million vehicles during 2012, according to market research by auto rental analysts. That’s on par with 2007, before the industry was beset by the Great Recession, and the industry’s inventory of cars, vans, SUVs and luxury cars shrunk. Mid-way through the Great Recession, the car rental industry, which was reeling from the economic downturn and “yo-yo spikes and decreases in fuel prices,” trimmed its fleet. The industry sold more than 400,000 vehicles to the used car market in 2009, according to news reports. That, in turn, spawned a shortage in the available rolling stock of rental car units, causing caused rental prices to increase.

Last year, the traditional car rental industry staged a comeback as operators added new inventory, and is now a $24 billion a year business in the United States, industry bloggers say. Yet the big three car rental behemoths “control about 95 percent-plus” of the car rental marketplace across the United States, industry watchers say. Savvy travelers will always shop around for the best possible rental rates, and so should you, advises AAA Travel. In fact, “the number of car rental operators increased sharply by 10% in 2012, driven by low-priced independent operators,” industry analysts say.

Overall, AAA Mid-Atlantic says renting a vehicle can make some holiday trips easier, and they’ve provided some tips on how to save some cash in the process:

• Book early and research any available discounts. Don’t wait until the last minute.

• Shop around by visiting websites and talking to a travel agent to find the best rental rates.

• Look for pre-paid rate offers that may save you on the daily rate.

• Factor in both the base rate and total price, including all taxes and fees.

• Use a discount coupon and specify discount memberships and other non-standard car rental options.

• Do your homework on car insurance options.

• Take a deep dive into your car rental contract. Look out for hidden costs in the fine print.

• Return the rental vehicle with a full tank. so you are not assessed any extra charges.

• Before driving away from the car rental site, inspect your rental car and note any existing damages such as dents, scratches and any broken items.

• Take advantage of one-way car rental options that let you pick up and drop off a car at different local and airport locations, including different states.

 

Early Winter Storm Could Snarl Thanksgiving Travel: Tips on Being Prepared

Image: AccuWeather.com

Over the river, through the woods, to grandma’s house we go – maybe. An early winter storm is bearing down on the east coast and it could make Tuesday – one of the busiest travel days of the year leading up to Thanksgiving – a nightmare in the Northeast.

Snow, ice, rain, and wind are all expected as part of the storm that’s moving east.

Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, a wintery mix is expected to impact our area, with heavy rains along the Interstate 95 corridor on Wednesday. With outside temperatures already unseasonably cold, the mercury is not expected to rise above the lower 40s on both days with lows in the 30s, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm may begin as freezing rain for our area on Tuesday and then change over to rain, and continue as rain throughout Wednesday, according the weather service.

The storm is expected to clear the area by Thanksgiving Day, but the cold air is here to stay as forecasted temperatures are listed in the 30s.

Flightmare

The storm is expected to cause major delays from Virginia up through the Northeast. AAA Mid-Atlantic provided some tips to those flying home for the holidays this holiday on how not to get stuck in an airport:

Know your rights

Check with your airline regarding cancellation policies for your specific type of ticket. In advance your departure date, travelers should research whether their tickets are refundable and, if not, whether the ticket can be used at another time. Travelers making changes to their reservations in advance should research what types of fees will be associated with the changes and whether any short-notice changes will cause the loss of the ticket value. Carry a printed copy of the contract of carriage with the airline, so you know what to expect should your flight be cancelled.

Mind the weather

Watch for weather forecasts for every airport you will pass through. The weather may be warm and sunny where you begin your trip, but severe weather in any layover city or at your final destination may cause significant delays. The Federal Aviation Administration maintains flight delay information for general airport conditions, but make sure to check with your individual departure airport as well.

Know how to be contacted

Make sure you have included a cell phone number with your travel reservation so you can receive automated alerts while you are at the airport. Also, make sure to turn your phone back on during layovers to receive the alerts. In advance of your trip locate the social media accounts for your airlines. If phone lines are busy with other callers trying to re-book flights, sending messages by social media is an additional way to contact the airline. Some airlines have dedicated social media accounts solely to help passengers with travel related difficulties. Tweeting for assistance may help you re-book a flight if the phone lines are jammed or disconnected.

Formulate a backup plan

Travelers should research back up modes of transportation, such as other carriers, rental cars, rail or bus service should your flight get cancelled. Driving, taking a bus or taking a train may get you through the last portion of your trip should flights be booked.

Check your traveler’s insurance policy

Read over your traveler’s insurance policy if you have purchased one for your trip. As a general rule, AAA Travel strongly recommends trip cancellation insurance, which reimburses monetary losses if cancellation must be made due to illness or death of passenger or immediate family.

Unaccompanied minors

Research your airline policy for unaccompanied minors. Some airlines will not allow unaccompanied minors to travel on flights that may be cancelled due to inclement weather.

Delays

Delays. Delays. Given the forecast, be prepared for delays. Once you check your baggage you won’t be able to access it to retrieve items very easily, if at all. Always keep any medication in your carry on. Also, pack an extra change of clothes in your carry on for each family member for any extended delay. Make sure you also keep your battery charger for your phones as well. While at the airport, make sure to check in with the airlines at the gate for last minute changes.

On the roads

Virginia State Police say this is one of the busiest travel times of the year and that paying attention to safety will help you arrive alive:

Last year, 14 individuals died in 13 traffic crashes on Virginia’s highways during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – the highest number of fatal crashes since 2009 when 16 motorists lost their lives.* With the most heavily-traveled holiday next week, the Virginia State Police are strongly encouraging motorists and their passengers to focus on safe driving behaviors.

“Every year our goal is to have no fatalities to report from a holiday weekend, unfortunately it’s not the reality of the situation,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “It’s critically important for drivers and passengers to make smart and safe choices, to include buckling up and driving distraction-free, when getting behind the wheel or riding in a vehicle. We want everyone to make it to their Thanksgiving destination and return home safely.”

Of the 14 motorists who died during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday, 11 individuals were not wearing a seatbelt. Virginia State Police will increase patrols and traffic enforcement efforts in order to prevent traffic deaths and injuries as part of the state police’s participation in Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Combined Accident Reduction Effort. Operation C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored, national program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints. Motorists can expect to see an increase in troopers throughout the Commonwealth beginning Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, at 12:01 a.m., and continuing through midnight, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013.

No lane closures

To help speed your trip on the roads, the Virginia Department of Transportation will lift all lane closures on state highways from noon Wednesday until noon on Monday, Dec. 2. Of the 43 million people who will travel this holiday, about 90% of them will do so by vehicle, according to VDOT.

The state agency released a map that shows, historically, where drivers can expect the most congestion over the holiday.

Here’s what VDOT says you can expect in Northern Virginia:

• High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) restrictions on interstates 66, 95 and 395 will be lifted on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 28. Normal HOV restrictions will be in place on Wednesday, Nov. 27, and Friday, Nov. 29.

• Direction schedule for I-95/I-395 reversible lanes: Lanes will be southbound from 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, until midnight Thursday, Nov. 28. Lanes reopen northbound by 2 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 28, and will remain northbound through 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 29. Lanes will reopen southbound by 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, and remain southbound through 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30. Lanes will reopen northbound by 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, and continue northbound for the remainder of the weekend.

I-95 Express Lanes construction: VDOT will restrict lane closures on I-95 in the Express Lanes work zone from 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26, to Monday, Dec. 2, at noon.

Out to Expose Bad Drivers, Video Shows Truck Knocking Over Stafford Highway Sign

Exclusive

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Smile. You’re on candid camera from behind the wheel.

New video obtained by Potomac Local News shows a tractor trailer knocking over what the Virginia Department of Transportation calls a chevron sign on Interstate 95, at mile post 143 in Stafford County. The sign denotes an exit number, and, at six minutes into the video, a tractor trailer that has seen consistently swerving on the highway is crashes into the sign, knocking it over, and then continues on with its drive north.

The incident was caught on tape by a videographer who told Potomac Local News they wish to remain anonymous. The video is branded with a logo that states “bad drivers exposed.”

In an email conversation, the videographer stated the video was shot with a dashboard-mounted camera similar to what police officers use in their patrol cars. It’s also simlar to a camera used to capture footage of a meteor falling to earth over the skies of Russia earlier this year.

The video was obtained by Potomac Local on Wednesday, and VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said the sign was replaced the day before. The video was shot sometime between 7 and 8 o’clock in the morning, the videographer stated.

With its own YouTube page, this is “bad drivers exposed” 27th video posted to the site. It is the first “bad drivers” video to be shot in Virginia. The videographer used to produce bad drivers videos shot during a commute when the videographer lived in North Carolina.

“I started after one of my neighbors was killed by an irresponsible driver… Basically, even the nicest people can become animals when they’re driving as long as they think they’re anonymous,” stated the videographer in an email. “My intent is to remove anonymity, publish license plates, and shame people into driving safer.”

The videographer chooses to remain anonymous to protect family members, the email stated.

“Removing anonymity is a means, not an end. My aim is safety. If people drive safely; they remain anonymous. If I remain anonymous, my family remains safe,” the videographer stated in an email.

The video begins as the videographer’s vehicle is traveling in Fredericksburg and ends when the videographer exits I-95 at Aquia. A male voice can be heard on the video calling police and reporting the driver of the swerving tractor trailer. It’s unclear if the driver of the tractor trailer was ever stopped by police.

 

 

Ribbon Cutting for Expanded University Boulevard set for Friday

[Image: Google Maps]

PRINCE WILLiAM COUNTY, Va. — The road that will link Sudley Manor Drive with Hornbaker Road near the FBI’s Northern Virginia Bureau off Va. 234 will open on Friday. Prince William County officials will hold a ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the new $20 million dollar roadway expansion near Manassas.

Here’s more in a press release:

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 22 at 10 a.m. to open the University Boulevard extension. The event will be held on University Boulevard at the intersection of Hornbaker Road. Following the ceremony, the road will be open to the public.

The $20 million-dollar University Boulevard extension project is part of the 2006 Bond Referendum, and was completed under budget and ahead of schedule. The project is a 1.32 mile facility, which includes a one mile section of a new four-lane roadway between Sudley Manor Drive and Hornbaker Road and the remaining 0.32 mile half-section (eastbound lanes) on University Boulevard from Hornbaker Road to the Prince William Parkway. The project also includes a pedestrian sidewalk, asphalt bike path, two storm water management ponds, a single-span bridge over the Broad Run tributary, underground utility duct banks, and a 30” waterline funded by the Prince William County Service Authority.

“The opening of this road is critical to improving traffic flow in western Prince William County,” said Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors Corey A. Stewart. “This project is part of a half a billion dollar commitment to transportation in the county as we strive to strengthen our road network and increase the quality of life for our residents.”

The project was administered by Prince William County’s Department of Transportation with the assistance of the Virginia Department of Transportation. This Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) project was constructed and designed by the team of Shirley Design/Build, LLC and Dewberry.

Paving Crew Working on Bristow Road, Completion Expected Monday

BRISTOW, Va. — Paving crews will be working on a portion of Bristow Road near Va. 28 this week.

The road work is to pave a portion of Bristow Road near Manassas. The work is expected to be completed by Monday, stated Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Joan Morris.

Prince William police today posted the following message about the paving to warn drivers in the area:

Bristow Rd (Route 619) will be closed between Nokesville Rd (Route 28) and Chapel Springs Rd from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, Nov 4th through Saturday, Nov 8th and next Monday, Nov 11th for VDOT operations. Motorists use caution when driving in the area.

 

Gainesville OmniRide Begins, Service at Manassas Kmart Ends

Dozens of OmniRide busses are lined up ready to go out on the afternoon runs at PRTC in Woodbridge.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — It’s a new day for bus riders in Gainesville area as new service from the Cushing Road commuter lot to Washington officially began this morning.

The Cushing Road lot sits near the intersection of Prince William Parkway (Route 234 Bypass) and Balls Ford Road, and provides drivers with direct access to Interstate 66 east. The service will be free to riders between today and Friday to give commuters a chance to try the service and familiarize themselves with OmniRide Gainesville.

More in a press release: 

Locally, the new Gainesville OmniRide route will pick up and drop off passengers at the Cushing Road Commuter Lot at I-66 and Prince William Parkway. Destinations include the State Department, stops along 14th Street including the Commerce Department, and L’Enfant Plaza. There will be four trips to D.C. in the mornings and four return trips to Gainesville in the afternoon/evenings. See the map and timetable for Gainesville OmniRide buses.

PRTC currently offers the Linton Hall Metro Direct service, which connects Gainesville residents to the West Falls Church Metro Station where passengers can board a Metro train to complete their commutes. PRTC surveys have shown that some Linton Hall Metro Direct passengers will choose to ride the Gainesville OmniRide service instead. As a result, one Linton Hall Metro Direct morning trip and one afternoon trip will be eliminated as of November 4. See the new map and timetable for Linton Hall Metro Direct buses.

With the change, buses will no longer serve a nearby commuter lot at Kmart store on Sudley Road in Manassas. A parking agreement between commuter bus operator PRTC and the owners of the property on which Kmart sits was not renewed and drivers should instead park at a nearby commuter parking lot on Portsmouth Road, said PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo.

Kmart announced earlier this year the store on Sudley Road would close.

The changes mean the Manassas OmniRide bus that has been providing service between Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. will have one less stop. Those who have been driving to Manassas to park and catch the bus can now drive to the Cushing Road commuter lot and ride the new Gainesville service, said Rodrigo.

The cost to PRTC of leasing 295 parking spaces at Sudley Manor Square has increased by 57% over the past three years. The Portsmouth Commuter Lot, which is owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation, is just 1.3 miles away and has more than 550 unused parking spaces.

Now that some passengers will be parking at Cushing Road to catch the new Gainesville OmniRide service, PRTC has concluded that termination of the Sudley Manor Square lease is appropriate, saving $44,000 annually. The Portsmouth lot is already served by Manassas commuter buses, and PRTC will reroute afternoon/evening trips on Manassas OmniRide buses to serve the Portsmouth Lot prior to serving Manassas Mall.

The commuter bus service also announced the following changes  as part of their annual fall service change:

· Dale City-Navy Yard OmniRide – PM trips renumbered to incorporate a trip added in June;

· Montclair OmniRide – AM and PM trips rescheduled to incorporate new trips added in June;

· Woodbridge-Lake Ridge OmniLink – Minor timetable changes;

· Dale City OmniLink – Minor timetable changes;

· Dumfries OmniLink – Minor timetable changes; and

· Manassas Park OmniLink – Timetable changes

For more information about PRTC’s transportation services, call (703) 730-6664 or visit PRTCtransit.org.

Holiday Ridership Low, VRE Opts for No Veterans Day Service

121212 VRE

Virginia Railway Express is working to determine which on federal holidays to offer limited service.

A recent test on Columbus Day has yielded no service this upcoming Veterans Day. The state’s only commuter railroad issued an explanation to its riders via email:

We previously communicated to our passengers that we would run an “S” schedule on Columbus Day and from there, based on ridership, determine if we would run an “S” schedule on Veterans Day (Monday, November 11, 2013). Ridership for Columbus Day was extremely low and as a result we will not operate on Veterans Day.

We will continue to look for other soft holiday opportunities where ridership may allow us to provide a limited (“S” schedule) service.

VRE lists 11 holidays on its operations calendar where limited or no service is offered, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

VDOT Taps Nelson to Oversee Stafford, Regional Operations

Sean Nelson will lead the Virginia Department of Transportation’s efforts in its Frederickburg region, to include operations in Stafford County.

Here’s more in a press release:

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has named Sean Nelson, P.E., to the position of Fredericksburg Residency Administrator.

Nelson will oversee highway maintenance, emergency operations and snow removal along 2,244 miles of state-maintained roads in the counties of Caroline, Spotsylvania and Stafford. He will also serve as the primary local government liaison for all VDOT transportation programs.

“Sean Nelson has an outstanding record of excellence at VDOT, and I look forward to the energy, enthusiasm and experience he will bring to leading the Fredericksburg Residency,” said Quintin Elliott, VDOT’s Fredericksburg District Administrator. “Since arriving at the Fredericksburg District in 2010, Sean led a dramatic improvement in interstate and primary pavement conditions. He has high expectations for everything he undertakes, and I know he will deliver results for Fredericksburg area motorists.”

Most recently, Nelson was named Assistant Fredericksburg Residency Administrator in August 2012.

 

Updated: Ruptured Gas Main Repaired

Update 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 31

A ruptured gas main near Manassas has been repaired.

Here’s more in an email statement from a Washington Gas spokesman:

Washington Gas crews repaired the line close to midnight last night.

Washington Gas crews were on site at 9 a.m. this morning to conduct the relights for those customers who’s natural gas service was interrupted, the majority of which are commercial buildings.

Ruben Rodriguez

Director, Corporate Communications

Washington Gas

Update 7:20 p.m. 

Crews are digging up a portion of Balls Ford Road in Manassas after a gas main was struck.

A contractor stuck a six-inch main late this afternoon in the area of Balls Ford Road and Coppermine Drive, said Washington Gas spokesman Ruben E. Rodriguez.

“We responded immediately and turned gas off at 6:08 p.m., and we currently have 36 outages,” he said.

Those outages are all located in “close proximity” to where the gas leak is. The affected portion of Balls Ford Road remains closed.

Stay with us for updates.

5:34 p.m.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Balls Ford Road in the area of Coppermine Drive, near Sudley Road and Manassas, is closed, police report.

Construction crews in the area struck a gas line and police have been called to the area to help direct traffic, according to police.

Police report that it’s unclear how long it will take to make repairs on the gas main. The incident scene is near the busy intersection of Sudley Road and Interstate 66.

This incident comes as water crews remain on the scene of a water main burst this morning near Dumfries. Police reported this morning crews expected to have the main repaired by 10 p.m. Potomac Local News requested information from the water company, Prince William Service Authority, but those calls were not returned.

 

Updated: Broken Water Main Repaired

Update 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 31

The broken water main that snarled U.S. traffic near Dumfries is fixed.

The water main was repaired about 10 p.m. Wednesday and water was flowing again, and the hole that was dug to access the break was back filled by 1 a.m. Thursday, said Prince William County Service Authority spokesman Keenan Howell.

About eight customers were without water as a result of the break.

Traffic on U.S. 1 north in the area was slow for much of the day as crews closed one lane of the four-lane road to repair the break.

Update

103013-water-main-break01
Picture 1 of 6

A slide show of photos taken Wednesday afternoon as crews worked to repair a burst water main. Several attempts to gain information from the Prince William Service Authority, the water company in charge of repairs, went unanswered.

10:45 a.m. 

[Submitted photo]

[Submitted photo]

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — It will take hours to finish repairs on a water main break in Dumfries, police said.

The break occurred early this morning along U.S. 1 at Wayside Drive, near a Walmart shopping center,  the Town of Dumfries, and the Southbridge neighborhood.

Here’s the latest message from Prince William police:

*TRAFFIC ALERT: [UPDATE] Repairs to the water main break at RT1 near Wayside Dr is expected to last well into the evening hours. Repair time is now estimated to be around 10:00PM. Only 1 lane northbound is being affected at this time.

We’re working on getting an update from the Prince William Service Authority, the agency that maintains the water lines, on the cause of the break.

 

Gas Line Inspectors to Close Ramps, Lanes on I-95

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

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Road crews will close two lanes of Interstate 95 Thursday and Friday nights so they can inspect gas lines.

Crews will inspect gas lines at the Va. 610 overpass at I-95, at mile post 143, and that means two lanes of the highway will close to traffic at the overpass, and traffic on eastbound Va. 610 headed toward U.S. 1 will not be able to enter I-95 north at the entrance ramp.

Drivers can instead use the on-ramp from U.S. 1 to I-95 to access the highway, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

On Friday night, two southbound lanes of I-95 will close as crews continue their gas line inspections. Traffic from Va. 610 west will not be able to enter the highway via the entrance ramp, while drivers on Va. 610 east will be able enter I-95 via the southbound on ramp, according to VDOT.

Detour signs will be in place to guide motorists, VDOT states.

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