Traffic & Transit

U.S. 1 an Alternate in I-95 Weekend Detour

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

DUMFRIES, Va. — Construction crews will close a portion of Interstate 95 on Friday to lay new steel as part of the 95 Express Lanes Project.

Steel beams will be lifted in place for a new flyover ramp that will carry traffic from the future 95 Express Lanes in the median of the highway to the southbound side of I-95.

Drivers headed south can expect highway closures starting 9:30 p.m. Friday, from Va. 234 to Joplin Road.

“All I-95 southbound traffic will be directed off at Exit 152A, Dumfries Road (Route 234) east to U.S. Route 1 south to Joplin Road, (USMC Quantico), Route 619 and back to I-95 south,” states the Virginia Department of Transportation in a press release.

Additionally, a lane of U.S. 1 south at Dumfries will also be closed to help accommodate the detour. The closures should last up to 20 minutes at a time, and drivers have been told to add extra time for their trip. The lanes will reopen by 7 a.m. Saturday.

Closures will continue Saturday night with lanes closing at 9:30 p.m. and reopening 9 a.m. Sunday morning.

VDOT officials said a similar detour will also be in place the weekend of July 19 as crews work to lift more steel in the area of Telegraph Road and Quantico.

New I-66 Commuter Lot Opens Monday

[VDOT]

MANASSAS, Va. — A new commuter lot on Interstate 66 will open on Monday in Manassas.

The new $5.9 million, 433-space Cushing Road commuter lot can sits near the interchange of Prince William Parkway and I-66. The lot can be accessed by using Cushing Road, just off Balls Ford Road.

There is an entrance ramp from the lot to eastbound I-66, and starting this fall PRTC buses will begin service for its Linton Hall Metro Direct route, as well as direct commuter service to Washington, from this lot.

A VDOT press release lists the features of the new lot:

· A bus loop and shelter for picking up and dropping off passengers

· Lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks, benches, bicycle racks and lockers

· Direct access for buses and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) traffic from the lot to the northbound Route 234 ramp to eastbound I-66, and an HOV enforcement area for Virginia State Police

· A new sidewalk on the western side of Cushing Road to serve the lot

· A new traffic signal at Balls Ford Road and Cushing Road

I-66 has HOV rules in effect on the eastbound portion of the highway from 5:30 until 9 a.m..

Woman Cut from Crashed Car, Witnesses said

MANASSAS, Va. — A woman was cut from a car after a four-car pile up tonight in Manassas, according to a witness on the scene.

It happened near the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Liberia Avenue just after 11 p.m. All four cars appeared to have been involved in a rear-end collision, witnesses said.

Officials reported one person was trapped but did not offer further details on the victim’s condition.

Traffic delays were reported in the area. The crash comes after a large Independence Day celebration took place today in Manassas, which draws large crowds annually.

‘Wheels to Wellness’ for Disabled and Elderly Funded Through 2014

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. — The Prince William Area Agency on Aging (PWAAA) and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) launched their Wheels to Wellness Program this spring, to provide free transit for the elderly, disabled and low-income individuals to medical appointments across the county.

Now, the transit agency announced it has received a second grant from the funding the Potomac Health Foundation to continue funding the service.

After a 2011 study conducted by the PWAAA and PRTC, it was discovered there was a need for mobility options for these groups in Prince William.

“The bus service covers more than a bit of county, but there are areas where there isn’t always service in the county. I believe there was a desire to help specifically those communities,” said PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo. “What came out of the study and what the Prince William Area Agency on Aging and the PRTC found was that there was a need for these populations, specifically for medical needs and that they needed help with their transportation.”

This spring, the Wheels to Wellness program was funded by an initial grant of $362,673 from the Potomac Health Foundation, and PRTC has received a second grant of $43, 940 from the Foundation to continue funding. This service is in addition to service on the various local and commuter bus routes PRTC provides Monday through Saturday.

“Together, those grants are expected to take us fully through FY 2014,” Rodrigo said.

In order to take part in the program participants need to fall within the established guidelines which include those who are 80 years of age or older, have a disability that is defined within the Americans with Disabilities Act, or meet a low-income level established by the program. Participants must also not be eligible for the Medicaid Transportation Program and live in zip codes within Prince William County that are covered by the Potomac Health Foundation.

Those enrolled in the program receive a rechargeable card, similar to a debit card that allows them to make trips by taxi to medical facilities in their area, which is meant to serve as a supplement to the PRTC bus transit lines, which may not reach an individuals medical facility.

“They can use this card to pay for trips that are related to medical needs. Say for example someone needs to see a doctor, but the doctor is not along one of the bus routes – it would be very inconvenient for a person, maybe because of their medical condition, or because the bus doesn’t come close enough to that particular location…,” Rodrigo said.

The amount that participants are allowed to spend is determined during the eligibility process with PRTC, and a monetary and trip limit is set based on the needs of the applicant.

“A patient who is receiving dialysis – that typically happens three times a week – and so a person who needs dialysis treatment would be preapproved for more trips a month than someone who is not receiving dialysis,” Rodrigo said of the types of determinations made to set a limit on a participants monthly trips.

Despite the fact that the program has just begun, there have already been some positive changes in the community, according to Rodrigo.

“There are 152 people now who have determined that they qualify for the program. It’s helping them to not only save money, but quite a few people that I’ve talked to have mentioned that they’re happy to be able to do things on their own,” Rodrigo said.

For those interested in applying for the Wheels to Wellness program, there are forms that must be sent or faxed to PRTC that are available at the PRTC center in Woodbridge and other government agencies such as the PWAAA and on the PRTC website, prtctransit.org.

For more information on the program or eligibility, contact Project Manager Karen Mills at 703-580-6177.

 

VRE Searching for Coffee Vendor at Quantico

121212 VRE

QUANTICO, Va. — Want to run your own coffee shop and sell train tickets? There may be an opportunity for you at the Quantico Virginia Railway Express station. The commuter railroad wants to talk to interested people about setting up shop at the train station that sits just outside the “crossroads of the Marine Corps.”

VRE is looking for a company to run a full-service coffee shop, offer food, sell train tickets, and maintain the restrooms, between 5 and 9:30 a.m., and between 3 and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on holidays when the trains don’t run.

The contract for the current vendor at the station, the Coffee Club Cafe has been there since 2008, and their contract later extended.

“The 2010 extension is set to expire this year and that is why we are taking it back on the street again to solicit interest in this operation,” said VRE spokesman Mark Roeber.

Vendor service at the station dates back to 2005 when the Whistle Stop Cafe opened at the Quantico Station. Similar vendor service is also offered at the Woodbridge station, and it too is operated by the same people who operate the Coffee Club Cafe in Quantico, said Roeber.

Whether or not the business is profitable, the rent is affordable.

“As to profitability, I can’t really speak to that because I don’t know the actually amount of business going through the doors on a daily basis. I will say that the rent we charge is so minimal, and we then provide revenue commission to the vendor based on their tickets sales at the station so there clearly is the opportunity to make money,” said Roeber.

Applications for potential vendors at Quantico are due to VRE no later than 1 p.m. July 24.

Drivers Beware: Virginia Toughening Stand on Drunken, Distracted Driving

Drivers on Interstate 95 south pass under Telegraph Road in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

The penalties for drinking and driving or texting and driving will change Monday, July 1.

Currently, texting while driving is considered a secondary offense, meaning the offender must be stopped for another, separate offense in order to be charged for texting and driving. Under the new law, it will become a primary offense, allowing police to stop drivers suspected of texting or reading text messages while driving.

A first time offender will pay a $125 fine and $250 for subsequent offenses, an increase from the current penalties of $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. A texting while driving conviction can also result in three points on a person’s driving record. Additionally, the new law imposes a mandatory $250 for any person convicted of reckless driving if found to be texting at the time of the offense.

More than 20 percent of all crashes in Virginia were attributed to driver distractions in 2012. More than 28,000 crashes resulted in 174 fatalities and 16,709 injuries, and many involved drivers using cell phones. Most of those distracted driver crashes involved drivers between the ages of 21 and 35 years old, and occurred at the end of the week, between Thursday and Saturday afternoons, according to a press release by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

DWI penalties also changing

Penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) will also change next week. Under current law, a DWI conviction is not considered a felony unless it is the third DWI conviction within 10 years. As of July 1, any DWI conviction will also automatically become a felony, with a minimum fine of $1,000 and one year in prison, if the offender has a prior conviction of involuntary manslaughter or DWI maiming while operating a motor vehicle or watercraft.

“These new laws address and raise awareness about some of the biggest dangers drivers face every day,” said DMV Spokesperson, Sunni Brown. “Drinking and driving and distracted driving lead to crashes and these laws aim to keep drivers safe as well everyone else sharing the road. That’s especially important with the upcoming Fourth of July holiday as there will be increased traffic on Virginia’s roadways.”

Every year prior to July 1, all sworn Virginia State Police employees are briefed on all new laws related to public safety, including the new texting while driving legislation. Both Prince William County Police as well as deputies at Stafford County Sheriff’s Office have also received training on the new laws.

Police must see you texting

According to Virginia State Police officials, the texting while driving legislation will be enforced just as any other primary offense. The trooper must observe the illegal conduct of the vehicle’s operator, thus providing the trooper with the reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop on that vehicle. Further investigation determines what, if any, offense(s) the driver will be cited for by the trooper.

“Drivers should be prepared for checkpoints during the upcoming holiday,” said First Sgt. Kim Chinn, of the Prince William County Police Department. “We also hold checkpoints throughout the year, not just on holidays.”

Fortunately, cell phone carriers and others in the telecommunications industry are working together to help stop motorists from texting when driving. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have all banded together to create the “It Can Wait” campaign, to educate people – especially teens – about the dangers of texting and driving. In addition, several providers offer free mobile apps, available for Smartphones, which allow users to lock their screens while driving, activate auto-reply messages for texts and calls or utilize hands-free options.

 

HOV Lanes Closing in Intervals This Weekend

Several new lane closures are planned this weekend as part of the 95 Express Lanes Project on Interstates 95 and 395 in Northern Virginia.

The closures will impact the entire stretch of HOV lanes from the Washington, D.C. line to Va. 234 in Dumfries, from 11 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Satruday, and then again 11 p.m. Saturday until 10 a.m. Sunday.

More details now in a press release from Virginia Megaprojects:

1. Saturday morning, June 29 by 10 a.m.:

HOV lanes open in south direction from Washington, DC to the Turkeycock exit (Edsall Road) where all motorists must exit the lanes and merge onto the I-395 south general purpose lanes.

HOV lanes closed between Turkeycock (Edsall Road) and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway (Route 289).

HOV lanes open to southbound traffic south of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway to Dumfries Road (Route 234).

Traffic can re-enter the HOV lanes just after the Franconia-Springfield Parkway via a left lane slip ramp.

During this work, there will be no direct access to I-95 south HOV lanes via the Franconia-Springfield Parkway.

2. Saturday afternoon, June 29, by 2 p.m.: HOV lanes will be closed for reversible operations.

3. Saturday afternoon, June 29, no later than 4 p.m.: HOV lanes open to traffic heading north from Dumfries (Route 234) to Washington, D.C.

4. Saturday night, June 29, by 11 p.m.: HOV lanes will close from Dumfries Road (Route 234) to Washington, D.C.

5. Sunday morning, June 30, by 10 a.m.: Entire HOV lane facility will open northbound.

Transportation officials said the closures will only take place is weather permits.

Dumfries Overlooked by Bi-County Parkway Planners

Dumfries Mayor Calls for Transportation Summit 

DUMFRIES, Va. — If a Bi-County Parkway is built linking Interstate 95 to Dulles Airport, the highway would start and stop in Dumfries.

Initial plans for the major thoroughfare, which would run in the 45-mile “North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance” between I-95 and Va. 7 in Loudoun County, show Va. 234 (which intersects with I-95 and U.S. 1 in Dumfries) being converted into a limited access highway.

But as Dumfries residents, and drivers who commute through the area already know, the area is heavily congested. Right now, there are no plans that are apart of the “North-South Corridor” study that include improving road conditions in Dumfries.

“There are several long term plans for Prince William Parkway, Route 123, and Route 234, but we’re not planning on doing anything for 234 for the long term right now,” said Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton.

The secretary, who lives in nearby Triangle, is aware of how bad traffic can back up here.

“It’s so important for us from a regional and statewide mobility perspective, because Route 1 and 95 are so close together, whenever there is a problem on 95 everyone moves over to Route 1,” he added.

U.S. 1 is being improved, but it’s being done in pieces. The project to widen the road from four to six lanes has already been completed in Triangle near the National Museum of the Marine Corps just outside the Town of Dumfries, and a new six-land bridge has been built over the Neabsco Creek near Neabsco Mills and Blackburn roads in Woodbridge. Now Prince William County and state officials will begin widening U.S. 1 in Woodbridge from four to six lanes from Neabsco Creek to Dale Boulevard, and from Mary’s Way to the Occoquan River, respectively.

Dumfries is still left out in the cold, and with the planned nearby addition of 3,000 new homes at Potomac Shores, and a new parkway of the same name that will also intersect U.S. 1 and Va. 234, improvements here are desperately needed.

“You have Potomac Shores Parkway coming through the Town of Dumfries, you have the Route 1 widening project just north of here, and now you have the ‘North-South Corridor’ coming through the town of Dumfries,” said Mayor Gerald Forman. “All these projects are going to take place in the next five years.”

While there are some plans to help mitigate traffic at the busy U.S. 1 / Va. 234 interchange, they are unpopular with town residents. They call for preventing right turns at the intersection, building jersey walls, new service roads, and routing drivers through an expanded commuter lot to get where they’re going.

“We have to have a transportation summit, and getting the right people in the room is – [the Virginia Department of Transportation, Prince William County, and Potomac Shores,” said Foreman. “This is a local fix… together with Prince William County we can move forward.”

 

Large Truck Burns at Dale City Exit

DALE CITY, Va. — A large truck caught fire tonight on Interstate 95 in Dale City.

The fire was reported to be near the car rest area at mile post 156 near the exit for Dale Boulevard at Potomac Town Center at Stonebridge.

Fire crews responded to the scene, charged their lines, and doused the blaze.

No one was injured in the blaze, and the call about the fire came into 911 at 10:43 p.m., said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

The truck stopped at the 156 mile post in the northbound shoulder I-95 where the fire rapid spread to another vehicle and quickly engulfed the trailer.

Two northbound lanes were closed following the fire and were expected to be reopened by midnight, said Geller.

 

Dudenhefer Makes Case for Wider U.S. 1 to Featherstone

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A local State Delegate has made his case to sufficiently fund the widening of a portion U.S. 1 in Woodbridge.

Mark Dudenhefer, R-Stafford, Woodbridge, penned a letter to Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton to provide “sufficient funding” for widening the major thoroughfare from Featherstone Road to Mary’s Way, from a four-lane to a six-lane road. Prince William County transportation officials estimate that project will cost $53 million.

Another project, the effort to widen U.S. 1 between Mary’s Way and the Occoquan River to six lanes has already been greenlit by the state. And, widening at U.S. 1 to Featherstone Road is already on a list of preferred projects by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a group of elected officials that will decide where to place some $190 million of new transportation revenues generated by higher sales taxes starting July 1 as part of the Virginia’s transportation reform passed in February.

“This is vital step toward seeing the real improvements need for the Second District and the region,” stated Dudenhefer in his letter.

Further south on U.S. 1 in Woodbridge, work to widen another portion of U.S. 1 in Woodbridge from four to six lanes, from Neabsco Creek to Featherstone Road, has already begun. A $38 million contract was awarded last year to Lane Construction Corporation to widen the road from what a bridge that crosses Neabsco Creek that’s already six-lanes wide, to Featherstone Road.

Motorcyclist Charged after Colliding with Cars on Prince William PKWY

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A motorcyclist fell to the ground Tuesday evening while traveling on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge.

Police said the rider, a 61-year-old man from Woodbridge, sideswiped two other cars before falling to the ground. He was charged with reckless driving and suffered minor injuries, said Prince William spokesman Jonathan Perok.

The crash was reported to police at 6:48 p.m., and it happened on the westbound lanes of Prince William Parkway prior to Minnieville Road.

At the nearby intersection of Prince William Parkway and Smoketown Road, police consider this a “high risk roadway” area as 147 summons were issued there, and 18 crashes happened at that intersection last year, according to annual police statistics.

There were 4,198 crashes reported in Prince William County last year. That’s a 2.1% decrease than the year before.

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

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.

 

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