Traffic & Transit
From May 11 to May 29, CSX Transportation will be performing railroad track and switch upgrade on Virginia Railway Express’ (VRE) Fredericksburg Line.
The work will be completed just south of the Fredericksburg station, said a release.
According to a release, the project is being done to improve the speed and reliability of the trains, as well as decreasing current delays when trains are switching between the VRE’s four tracks.
This project is part of a larger initiative to create a new third track that runs from Washington, D.C. to Richmond.
VRE riders could see delays between 10 to 45 minutes during the construction, and it will impact both northbound and southbound trains.
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The man taken to an area hospital suffering burns was a stowaway inside the baggage compartment of the bus that caught fire.
Here’s more from Virginia State Police:
A 2014 Greyhound bus was traveling south on I-95 south when the driver started to see and smell smoke coming into the cabin of the bus. The driver safely pulled to the right shoulder where all 28 passengers exited without incident. Stafford County Fire and Virginia State Police discovered the fire coming from the baggage compartment below the passenger compartment.
Inside the luggage compartment was a male subject. He was flown from the scene to INOVA Fairfax Hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.
Details released by the Virginia State Police reveal that, as the 2014 Greyhound bus was traveling south on I-95, the driver started to see and smell smoke coming into the cabin. The driver then pulled over onto the right shoulder, where all 28 passengers exited without further incident, say police.
Stafford County fire fighters and Virginia State Police noticed that the fire was coming from the baggage compartment below the passenger compartment. A man was found inside the luggage compartment. He was flown from the scene to the hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries. Initial reports say he had burns.
The Virginia State Police report that a male was inside the luggage compartment of the Greyhound bus that caught fire on Interstate 95 southbound this afternoon. He was flown from the scene to INOVA Fairfax Hospital for the treatment of life-threatening injuries.
There were 28 passengers on the bus at the time, according to the Virginia State Police. The passengers were transported elsewhere via a local school bus.
No further details are available. State police are investigating the incident.
A Greyhound bus caught fire this afternoon while traveling on Interstate 95 south.
The bus caught fire near mile post 144, near Route 610 at Garrisonville. At least one person was injured, according to initial reports.
A helicopter was called to take at least one injured person to a hospital. Initial reports indicate the patient suffered burns.
The police temporarily closed all lanes of of I-95 near the crash scene around 3:30 p.m., so the MedStar helicopter could land.
Traffic on I-95 south is backed up to Quantico Marine Corps Base. Traffic congestion is also building along Route 1, which runs parallel to I-95.
School buses were called to carry passengers from the burned bus, according to initial reports.
We’ll have more on this as it develops.
Three new stations part of VRE extension plan
More than five years ago, many on the Haymarket Town Council wanted nothing to do with a planned westward expansion of Virginia Railway Express.
Then town leaders feared the traffic congestion a new VRE station could bring to the town.
Now, the town council appears to be on board with the idea of commuter rail to the tiny town.
“We’re excited about a study that will tell us more about the prospect of VRE coming out to Haymarket. We’ve had councils, in the past, that weren’t too excited, but this new council is looking forward to having VRE come here,” said Haymarket Mayor David Leake.
The process of getting VRE to Haymarket and Gainesville, both in the western portion of Prince William County, took a big step forward. The commuter railroad approved $4 million to pay AECOM Technical Services, Inc. to conduct a planning and engineering study of the planned project.
At least three new stations would be added as part of the extension — at Sudley Manor Drive, Gainesville, and in Haymarket. A fourth station at Prince William Innovation Park — home to the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus — has also been discussed.
If service is extended, the new rail line would be an extension of VRE’s Manassas line. It would run on Norfolk Southern railroad’s “B” line, which branches off from its main line at Wellington Road in Manassas. The “B” line runs parallel to Wellington Road, crosses underneath Sudley Manor Drive and then continues west underneath Prince William Parkway into Gainesville and Haymarket.
Trains headed west from Washington to Haymarket would service the train station in Downtown Manassas but not the Broad Run station at Manassas Regional Airport, as Manassas line trains do today.
Today, the “B” line is used by freight trains. Those trains would continue to use the line alongside VRE trains. A new bridge that carries cars on Route 28 over Wellington Road in Manassas was built wide enough to accommodate a second set of railroad tracks that could be built as part of VRE’s westward expansion.
Prince William County taxpayers continue to be one of the transit system largest funding sources. Officials like the idea of expanding a popular commuter rail system with a major presence in their backyard.
“I think this would be a great step forward for the Brenstville District,” said district supervisor Jeanine Lawson. “It’s the ideal transportation solution to the traffic congestion we have on I-66.”
Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland said riders that have embraced using VRE had helped to decrease the number of cars on I-66. He vows to work with other local officials, as well as residents, to gather input on the project.
“Tere are obviously a myriad of challenges that exist with such projects, including traversing wetland areas, impacts on existing communities, traffic and parking issues at a station, and the disruption on the quality of life for homeowners that would potentially be negatively impacted by the construction of a VRE extension in their community,” said Candland.
The planning and engineering phases of the project are slated to last through the end of 2017. Final design of the new phase is expected two years later. If construction were to begin in 2021, the expansion could open the following year, according to VRE spokesman Bryan Jungwirth.
Founded in 1992, VRE is Virginia’s only commuter rail system. It carries nearly 20,000 average daily riders on its two lines – Manassas to Washington and Fredericksburg to Washington.
Motorists traveling through the intersection of Route 1, Carter Street and Route 218 (Butler Road) in Stafford County can expect some delays this week due to ongoing construction work to improve the Falmouth intersection. Flaggers and/or electronic signs will direct motorists through the work zone.
Route 1 southbound will be reduced to a single lane at the Falmouth intersection so crews can place traffic signal poles at the intersection corners, today and tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Overnight, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., traffic will be periodically shifted to the northbound or southbound side of the road for waterline installation. During the traffic shift there will be one lane open in each direction on either the northbound or southbound side of Route 1.
Carter Street will closed to traffic overnight, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., today and tomorrow between Butler Road and Gordon Street. Residents will be provided access to their homes during the closure.
Motorists will be restricted to one lane on the westbound side of Butler Road at Carter Street now through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
For real-time updates on lane closures and work zones, please visit VDOT’s 24-hour traffic information website, www.511virginia.org or download VDOT’s 511Virginia free mobile app. Motorists can also access 511Virginia by calling 511 from any telephone in Virginia.
Residents of the Meadowbrook Woods neighborhood on busy Route 234 near Manassas for many years have wanted a traffic signal at the entrance to their neighborhood.
“Almost since the beginning,” said Janice Valdez, a member of the Meadowbrook Woods Homeowners Association.
However, county and state officials have deemed a traffic signal inappropriate.
Cars turning out of the neighborhood often encounter other vehicles that sit in the median on Route 234. Those drivers are attempting to turn into Meadowbrook Woods.
Drivers turning into the neighborhood can make for dangerous driving conditions as drivers exiting the neighborhood those sitting in the median.
Al Gabrois, a longtime resident of Meadowbrook Woods, said that “coming into the neighborhood, I think the people are desperate to get out so they’ll take the right of way…if I had to make a left everyday out of here to go to work that would be trouble”.
Marc Cioffi, a traffic engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), said the agency hasn’t marked the neighborhood entrance as dangerous. Cioffi added that he has not received one request for a traffic light at that intersection.
“Every request is handled the same way. It doesn’t matter to us if it’s submitted to us by an individual, or a community or hundreds of people, we address each request the same way,” Cioffi said. (more…)
Traffic Need a VRE ticket? Tap the app
You’ll soon be able to tap your phone to purchase a Virginia Railway Express ticket.
The commuter railroad on May 15 will roll out its first-ever mobile ticketing system. Riders will be able to purchase any VRE ticket – single ride, two ride, five-day pass, monthly ticket, Amtrak Step-Up ticket – with the push of a button on their mobile device.
“We’re working on a way for people to avoid ticketing and vending machines, and to makes rides easier for our customers,” said VRE spokesman Brian Jungwirth.
Riders will also be able to use transit benefits with the new mobile service.
Users must download an app to their phone that will allow them to use a credit card to buy their tickets. When it’s time to validate the ticket, a train conductor will ask to be shown riders’ cell phone screens, where the ticket will be displayed. Jungwirth said the screen would have an animated background and a QR code, so conductors know the difference between an actual mobile ticket and a computer screenshot counterfeit version.
Mobile ticketing has been in the works for years at VRE. A request for proposals to vendors who could deliver the service went out in 2013. In September of that same year, VRE awarded a $3.2 million contract to Portland, Ore.-based Globe Sherpa to deliver the ticketing system.
A similar mobile ticketing system is being used at TriMet, a public transit system in the Portland area, according to VRE meeting minutes from September 2013.
VRE users were excited about the prospect of mobile ticketing. More than 600 users signed up to beta test the new system in the first hour after VRE made a request for testers, Jungwirth said.
Moblie tickets will not replace paper tickets, according to VRE documents.
Traffic Nokesville truss bridge closed
The Virginia Department of Transportation will close the historic Aden Road bridge over Norfolk Southern Railroad Friday, after an inspection has revealed further deterioration of the 132-year-old structure. Read more at Bristow Beat.
When one solution to traffic congestion opens, another problem can appear.
In this case, a new backup has formed on Interstate 95 north on weekday mornings. Just before the entrance to the 95 Express Lanes, there is major congestion as drivers slow to read all of the signs warning them they need an E-ZPass to enter the toll lanes.
Drivers also need to merge left to enter the lanes – a move that’s counterintuitive as many drivers are used to entering and exiting highways from the right.
“VDOT is aware of congestion that has developed on Interstate 95 northbound on weekday mornings in Stafford County, leading up to the new Express Lanes entrance just north of Exit 143/Aquia and Garrisonville. This is a new congestion pattern that has developed after the opening of 95 Express Lanes in December 2014,” said Kelly Hannon, Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
We were tipped off about the new delay when we spoke with commuters at the newly expanded Staffordboro Commuter Lot just off Route 610 in North Stafford. They told us drivers now use back roads in Stafford County, from Route 17 to get to Route 610, to avoid the congestion on I-95. Once on Route 610, they pull into the Staffordboro lot, park, and then catch a ride to work.
“We are concerned about the congestion and are discussing long-term solutions that could reduce this queue in the future. However, any reduction will likely require new vehicle capacity and construction, and would take time to develop,” added Hannon. (more…)
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will be holding a public hearing for the Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) on April 30 in Fredericksburg.
The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Germanna Community College location in Fredericksburg.
The SYIP outlines road improvements that VDOT plans to support in the area from fiscal years 2016 to 2021, said a VDOT release.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board released their draft of the SYIP on April 15, which outlines almost 3,000 transportation projects to be completed over the 6-year period – totaling $12.9 billion.
According to Prince William County Police spokesperson Jonathan Perok, the driver in the vehicle that crashed into the utility pole in Triangle has been charged with a DUI.
A resident stated that the power had been out since 2:30 a.m.
Two outages in Triangle have left more than 1,900 customers without power.
According to Dominion Power, the energy supplier for the area, there are two outages in the Graham Park area.
The first outage has effected 1,902 customers, due to a vehicle accident, said Dominion Power’s outage map. The expected restoration time for the outage is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The second outage has effected 21 customers, due to emergency work on the scene, according to Dominion Power’s outage map. The expected restoration time from the outage is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Workers from Dominion Power are on the scene at the intersection of Olde Port Lane and Graham Park Road, replacing two power poles that were down.
— Dominion VA Power (@DomVAPower) April 27, 2015
Prince William County Public Schools experienced bus delays at several schools in the area due to the road closures where Dominion Power was fixing the downed lines.
Stafford will be moving forward with a $1.5 million project to realign a section of Centreport Parkway, near Ramoth Church Road.
As part of the project, the road will be realigned at the intersection of Centreport Parkway and Ramoth Church Road, shifting it 250 feet to the west, according to the county website. Additionally, there will be new asphalt pavement that will connect the roadway.
Funding for the project came from Stafford County’s Secondary Six Year Plan and funding from the state, said Public Information Officer Shannon Howell.
“Currently, the northern most section of Centreport Parkway is located within a public access easement. The project will reconstruct approximately 500’ of roadway onto state-owned right of way and widen Centreport Parkway to provide dedicated left and right turn lanes onto Ramoth Church Road. A right turn lane from Ramoth Church Road onto Centreport Parkway will also be constructed as part of this project,” said Howell.
Howell also states that construction will likely be started in June, and be completed early next year.
During construction, the parkway will remain open normally, while the realigned section is being completed.
According to Howell, drivers may see some lane closures on Ramoth Church Road between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, while the right turn lane on Ramoth Church Road is being constructed.
There may also be some infrequent lane closures on Centreport Parkway when the new section of the road is tied in to the existing parkway.
Starting this month, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will begin construction on a $5.2 million dollar project that will provide pavement and safety improvements along Route 218.
The construction will take place on a 20-mile stretch of Route 218, and will include King George and Stafford counties.
The route has fairly high traffic volume, with about 5,000 vehicles driving on it every day, said VDOT.
VDOT stated that drivers in the area may see some increased congestion, as Route 218 will be reduced to only one lane from Mondays through Fridays – between dawn and dusk.
There will be no lane closures west of Route 301 during peak travel times, to prevent severe congestion, said a VDOT release.
According to a VDOT release, some of the cost for the project was paid for using federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funding – money used to reduce highway crashes.
As part of the project, VDOT stated that they would be constructing new pavement markings, upgraded and new guardrails, sign upgrades, tree removal, and minor shoulder widening.
The company in charge of constructing the road improvements is Superior Paving, based out of Gainesville.
Construction is slated for completion in December 2015.
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An overturned car on Prince William Parkway caught the eye of drivers Tuesday.
Especially Buddy Baker, of Woodbridge, who was sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire and witnessed the crash. Baker said a coupe was traveling on Prince William Parkway in the direction of Woodbridge, in an S curve at the intersection of Scenic Point Drive, when it crashed into a road sign and overturned in the median.
“I thought we was gonna hit me,” said Baker.
After the crash, Baker ran toward the crashed car. Other drivers stopped to help, said Baker.
The driver of the car crawled out and immediately picked up his cell phone.
“We all asked him if he was OK and if there was anything we could do and he kept saying ‘I’m alright, I’m alright,” said Baker.
Police and fire and rescue crews were at the crash scene about noon. Drivers slowed to see the spectacle of the demolished car that crashed in wet, slippery conditions.
Baker said he saw rescue crews bandage the driver’s arm. The man who Baker identified as the driver was walking around and appeared to be speaking with crash investigators.
Baker was headed to Manassas from Woodbridge when his Honda Civic popped it’s back rear tire. He called a roadside assistance car that came to help him across from the crash scene.
Residents should expect to see increased lane closures in the coming months at the intersection of Route 1, Route 17 Business and Route 218 in Stafford’s Falmouth district.
The closures are a part of the $22.1 million dollar construction project being completed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), according to a VDOT release.
Construction on the intersection began back in March 2014 as part of an improvement project. Tavares Concrete, Inc is completing the project.
Currently, construction on the project is at 50% completion. The project includes building new turn lanes and travel lanes, as well as sidewalks, which will be open for use in September 2015, said a VDOT release.
According to a VDOT release, the purpose of the project is to unclog the intersection, as it is an important alternate route for Interstate 95, and local passage between Stafford County and the City of Fredericksburg.
“We appreciate the cooperation and patience of drivers over the past year during the demolition, utility relocation, and early construction work. We look forward to wrapping up construction over the next six months to deliver this project in September,” said Michael Coffey, P.E., VDOT’s Assistant District Administrator for Construction, Fredericksburg District in a release.
Residents should expect single lane closures near the intersection most evenings, Sunday through Thursday. VDOT stated that they will avoid lane closures during peak traffic times including rush hour on weekdays, Friday nights, and weekend days.
Traffic backed up on Center Street in Downtown Manassas today.
Road crews are paving streets around the new Old Towne Square townhomes. Prescott and Fairview avenues, and Zebedee, Maples, and Quarry streets are all being paved.
The project is slated to wrap up this week.
At 1 p.m., several buildings in the Washington D.C. area went dark due to a power outage.
The outages caused afternoon delays for several commuters, and the residual effects from the outage may make it difficult for Prince William, Manassas, and Stafford residents to get home this evening.
In a statement made by Pepco, the power company responsible for the outage, it occurred due to an issue with a transmission line.
“There was never a loss of permanent electric supply but the dip in voltage caused equipment at some facilities to transfer to their backup systems. We are currently working to repair the transmission equipment fault in Charles County, Maryland,” said Pepco in a release.
According to a media spokesperson for the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), while all stations are running trains on schedule right now, 13 stations are currently only running on back-up power.
“It’s not closing any stations – it’s not disrupting our transit operations. Trains are running normally. We have several stations – about 13 – that are running on back up power. So what [commuters] will notice is the [stations] will be a bit dimmer, as not all of the lights are on,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also stated that some of the escalators and elevators were not working at the metro stations.
According to Christine Rodrigo, PR specialist for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), there was an assessment of bus services made, but there are no anticipated service delays at this time.
The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) experienced delays earlier this afternoon, but according to Bryan Jungwirth, Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations for the VRE, stated that all late afternoon and evening trains should be running on schedule.
“There was about a 45-minute outage…it did cause our two early afternoon trains to run about 20 and 30 minutes late. But everything is good for this afternoon – the power has been restored. There shouldn’t be any effect on our train services this afternoon,” Jungwirth said.
The original VRE delays occurred when Union Station lost power and signals, which caused the 301 train to be 30 minutes late, and the 325 train to be 10 minutes late.
Potomac Local will keep you up to date on the latest information about the impact on commuting out of Washington D.C.
Emergency crews were called to assist a driver that collided with a guardrail.
These photos were sent in to us from a Manassas Local reader who happened to be in the area of the crash, near the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Interstate 66.
The witness told Manassas Local a driver exiting I-66 onto Prince William Parkway east collided with the railing and then drove into the median of the Prince William Parkway.
Rainy conditions have prevailed for much of the day and roads are slippery out there.
Highway would link Prince William, Loudoun counties
You may count the Bi-County Parkway down, but don’t count it out.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is no longer seeking federal funds for the 10-mile highway that would link travelers on Interstate 95 in Dumfries to I-66, and ultimately to Dulles Airport in Loudoun County.
The project must now undergo a statewide review process mandated by House Bill 2, also known as the “HB2” process, where highway projects that are not fully funded funnel through a state review process.
“This is a new prioritization process we’re still developing where projects will be screened and scored based on their ability to improve traffic congestion and highway safety,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tamara Rollison.
Projects that will go through HB2 screen have yet to be identified. The HB2 scoring rubric is expected to be finalized in June, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond could select their first projects for review by fall.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board may be review projects at urging of a local board of supervisors or a metropolitan planning organization.
“The big difference between the HB2 process versus the old process is that, for the first time, [the review process is mandated] in legislation. This administration is trying to take politics out of transportation as much as possible. It’s about taking limited dollars in within the state to meet as many transportation needs as we can,” added Rollison.
VDOT notified Northern Virginia Delegate Tim Hugo by letter it was no longer seeking federal funds for the project. That letter also addresses the HB2 process.
Politicians said that notice is a sign of defeat for a once contentious project. Two years ago, a debate over the Bi-County Parkway had highway officials, business leaders, politicians, and residents who live along the Route 234 corridor up in arms.
The Drive to Donate program, hosted by Transurban, raised over $78,000 for area fire and rescue departments on March 21.
More than 20,000 drivers took to the 495 and 95 Express Lanes to participate the in the program. All of the toll money collected by these drivers on the toll lanes was donated to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, Prince William County Fire and Rescue, and Stafford County Fire and Rescue.
According to a Transurban release, each of the fire and rescue departments received over $26,000 to help them purchase equipment and continue to protect area residents.
“We are pleased that so many drivers chose to travel on the 495 and 95 Express Lanes on March 21 to help us support a great cause. As safety is the top priority on the Express Lanes, it was important to us to support our local fire and rescue organizations. This donation is one way we can thank our local heroes for keeping the communities surrounding the Express Lanes corridor safe each and every day,” said Jennifer Aument, North American Group General Manager for Transurban in a release.
All three fire and rescue departments were grateful for the donation from drivers that participated in the program.
“The Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue is grateful for the support provided by those drivers who traveled the Express Lanes on March 21 and to Transurban for supporting both driver safety and local fire and rescue departments through the Drive to Donate program,” said Prince William County Assistant Chief, Lance McClintock, in a release.
The Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department will use some of the raised funds for their Operation Warm Coats for Kids Program.
“Thanks to the Drive to Donate campaign, we believe we will be able to provide a warm coat to every Stafford County student who needs one this coming fall and winter,” said Stafford County Fire and Rescue Chief, Mark Lockhart in a release, continuing, “This incredible donation will move us closer to that goal. Every child should have a coat to keep them warm; we are grateful that the Drive to Donate program will help us take care of Stafford’s children.”
Submitted News Lane closures on I-95 in Stafford tonight
Two lanes of northbound and southbound Interstate 95 traffic will be closed tonight for bridge joint repair work at the Route 17 overpasses in Stafford County, just north of the Rappahannock River bridge at Exit 133/Falmouth.
Work will begin on the northbound overpass. When work is complete, all northbound lanes will be re-opened, and crews will shift to the southbound I-95 overpass.
Lane closures will occur on the following schedule:
- 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. – Two northbound I-95 lanes closed
- 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.? Two southbound I-95 lanes closed
All lanes will be re-opened by 4:30 a.m.
Crews are performing bridge deck repairs on the overpasses, which have had temporary pothole repairs recently.
For real-time updates on lane closures and work zones, please visit VDOT’s 24-hour traffic information website, www.511virginia.org.
Motorists can also access 511Virginia by calling 511 from any telephone in Virginia, or downloading VDOT’s 511Virginia free mobile app.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is conducting a slugging survey to look at the HOV carpooling patterns at the expanded Staffordboro commuter lot just off Route 610 in North Stafford.
Slugs are those who hitch rides in vehicles with three or more occupants to ride free on the EZ-Pass Express Lanes with an EZ-Pass Flex transponder in the vehicles.
According to a VDOT release, they are concerned about congestion that’s been seen at the slugging pick-up line at the Staffordboro lot during weekday mornings.
In addition to an online survey VDOT is asking riders to fill out, there are plans to send VDOT staff out to the slug line to speak with commuters, according to a release.
The survey is being conducted for the next month, according to Kelly Hannon, a Communications Manager with VDOT.
“This is an unscientific, convenience sample, but we wanted to do as much as we could to ask the people using these features for their ideas,” said Hannon.
Potomac Local spoke with area commuters and found that the expanded Staffordboro and the extended EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95
from Dumfries to Route 610 has been a relief for many.
“It’s a little easier,” said Beulah Williams, Stafford. “I feel like I get about 20 minutes more at home every day.”
The majority of the construction of the lanes wrapped in December when the lanes opened to traffic. Every driver on the lanes needs an EZ-Pass to use them, and vehicles with two or fewer occupants are charged tolls to use the lanes. (more…)