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Traffic & Transit

Martino finds hope amid transit funding crisis

There is hope for Prince William County’s bus system.

County officials said it can fund the $9.2 million budget shortfall looming over the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) in fiscal year 2017, that begins July 1.

Prince William Acting County Executive Christopher Martino proposed using half of a $12 million of a pot of state money given to the county from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) for local road construction projects, to fund Virginia Railway Express.

That would leave the full pot of revenues generated in Prince William County by the state’s motor fuels tax solely for PRTC.

The commuter bus agency will continue to face a $10.5 million budget shortfall ($2.1 million each year between 2018 and 2022). The county stopped providing motor fuels tax general funding to PRTC in 2008, and the agency was forced to rely on a fuels tax reserve fund that built up when fuel prices were sky high. (more…)

Crews hitting streets before snow showers, bitter cold sets in

Snow showers should pass through the region this evening. While the showers will be light in nature, we all remember what happened last time the forecast called for “light snow.” 

The snow should move through this evening late into the afternoon rush hour. Crews with the Virginia Department of Transportation will deploy snow plows to treat the roads early this afternoon, said VDOT Northern Virginia spokeswoman Jennifer McCord. 

Crews will also monitor conditions and treat roads where necessary in the Fredericksburg region, too. Stafford County is included in this region. (more…)

Transit crisis comes as bus loads lighter, drivers leaving

Morale among bus drivers at the region’s commuter transit agency is low.

It’s the kind of mood you would expect from employees if your bosses, the heads of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation, are heard in public, and in the media talking about a “doomsday scenario” where operations as you know them could come to an end.

It’s no joke that PRTC faces a $9.2 million budget shortfall every year over the next five years. If state and local leaders don’t find the money, the transit system that thousands of residents, federal workers, and carpoolers (Slugs as they’re called in Northern Virginia) rely on could be blown up, changed, and rerouted to only ferry commuters to Metro stations.

All of this comes at a time when some drivers who trained at PRTC are leaving to make more money driving buses for other agencies. (more…)

Mark Center commuter bus begins operation

New commuter bus service from eastern Prince William County to Mark Center begins today.

Commuter buses will take riders from neighborhoods in Dale City and Lake Ridge to Mark Center, the federal employment hub in Alexandria that is the home to the Department of Defense’s Washington Headquarters Services, and other Department of Defense agencies.

Four trips in the morning and afternoon will be offered to commuters on the both the Dale City and Lake Ridge routes. (more…)

If PRTC gets a ‘floor,’ drivers would pay a ‘few pennies more’

Some relief for cash-strapped OmniRide could come in the form of legislation in Richmond.

A new bill by Sen. Frank Wagner (Norfolk, Virginia Beach) would set the gas tax “floor” at February 2013 rates. That means OmniRide’s parent agency Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission would get it’s 2.1% funding from the state’s motor fuels tax based on 2013 prices, which averaged $3.17 per gallon statewide that year. Diesel fuel averaged $3.36 per gallon statewide. 

Compare that to today’s average price at the pump: $1.68 for regular and $2 for diesel, according to today’s AAA’s Fuel Gauge report. 

The gas tax is a primary source of state funding for OmniRide, which operates heavily-used commuter buses from Prince William County and Manassas to Washington, D.C. (more…)

VDOT will review miserable commute after blizzard ends

The roads last night were treacherous across the region, as less than an inch of snow that fell quickly turned to mush, and then to ice. 

Vehicles traveling on Route 610 slipped and slid all over the roadway as drivers tried to make their way home.

I was one of the drivers that never made it home last night.

Several crashes on Route 610, as well as a jackknifed tractor trailer made it impossible to drive Route 610 west beyond Joshua Road. It was one of the more troublesome spots (especially in Stafford County, I’m told) where road conditions deteriorated quickly.  (more…)

Public hearings planned for proposed bus cuts, fare hikes

A new OmniRide budget calls for cutting services and raising fares.

Fares could increase by 5% starting in July to offset a $9.2 million budget shortfall for Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, the agency that operates OmniRide commuter, and OmniLink local buses. The fare increase is on top of fares that have already increased by 30% since 2009.

Under the proposed fare increase, new one-way fares would be: (more…)

Gas line relocation begins Monday in Manassas Park

Construction crews will begin relocating gas lines in Manassas Park on Monday.

The work will take place at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Manassas Drive, and is being done in advance of roadwork to occur in the area.

The work is expected to take place through February, and will occur at multiple locations around the intersection.

Here’s more in a press release:  (more…)

Aden Road bridge to be trucked to Florida

It’s time to remove the old Aden Road bridge.

The one-lane wrought-iron truss bridge will be removed from its perch over the Norfolk-Southern railway on Tuesday.

Remediation work to remove lead paint will be performed on the bridge, and then it will be trucked to Florida for a complete restoration. The bridge is 133 years old.

“It’s a community cornerstone,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis. (more…)

Mike’s 610 Diner in path of a wider Road

Mike’s 610 Diner has been described as a “cheers” of Stafford County.

The small eatery caters to a mostly breakfast crowd, and a stream of regulars — all on a first-name basis — stream in all morning long.

“I love this place… great food,” said Chirs Caldwell, of Aquia Harbour.

The diner may be served a condemnation notice due a road construction project. Stafford County will spend $13 million to widen Garrisonville Road to six lanes between Onville and Eustace Roads. (more…)

VDOT treats roads ahead of snowflakes

The threat of a jest a few flakes falling from the sky overnight was enough to get Virginia highway crews out to treat roads.

Crews were spotted laying down a salt-brine solution on Interstate 95 this morning. 

Here’s more in a press release about what the Virginia Department of Transportation is doing ahead of a Alberta Clipper, that could bring some conversational snowflakes to the region today:  (more…)

Mark Center ramp opens Monday, then new commuter bus service begins

Commuters bound for Mark Center in Alexandria will soon have a two new buses to take them there.

A new ramp from the HOV lanes on Interstate 395 to Seminary Road will open tomorrow afternoon, according to a Virginia Department of Transportation press release.

The new ramp will allow commuter buses to ferry passengers from Dale City and Lake Ridge to the Mark Center federal building. The service will be funded entirely by Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and will be operated by OmniRide.

The Dale City bus will begin picking up passengers at the Dale City Commuter Lot at Gemini Way, then travel Dale Boulevard to Interstate 95. (more…)

OmniRide short on cash; doomsday scenario unveiled

There’s a lot of hope in the newly approved budget put forward Thursday night by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.

Hope that Prince William County will magically find $6 million to help make up some of an annual $9.2 million budget shortfall, every year over the next five years. Hope the Virginia General Assembly will enact a gas tax “floor” to help the agency recoup and additional $3.5 million it lost when gas prices dropped.

If a floor is not found, there’s also hope that Prince William County will make up the entire budget shortfall, each year for the next five years. Prince William County residents are the majority users of the commuter bus service, while the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park don’t pay for the commuter bus service but do have residents that use it.

If those monies don’t come, transit officials spelled out a doomsday scenario. All OmniLink local bus service in Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park would end. All OmniRide commuter buses to destinations like Washington, D.C., Arlington, and the Pentagon would be converted to serve only as shuttle buses to area Metro stations. (more…)

Pedestrian struck, flown to hospital with serious injuries

A pedestrian was struck this morning in front of a Walgreens pharmacy on at Smoketown and Old Bridge roads in Lake Ridge. 

Here’s more in a police press release: 

Accident Investigation | Eastern PWC: Officers are currently investigating an accident involving a single vehicle and a pedestrian in the 12600 block of Smoketown Rd in front of the Walgreens. One lane of NB Smoketown Rd toward Old Bridge Rd is currently closed at Beaver Pond Rd. The pedestrian was flown to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Please use an alternate route and follow police direction. Old Bridge Rd is not affected.

Police reopened all lanes of Smoketown Road at about 9:30 a.m. following their investigation.

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