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VRE trains from Manassas stopped after pedestrian struck

121212 VRE

Update 

Police in Manasssas released the following information about the pedestrian who was struck this morning along railroad tracks in the city. 

Here’s the latest info: 

Pedestrian Struck by Train

At approximately 3:20AM on January 22, 2015, an adult male was struck by a train on the 8400 block of Kao Cir just south of Osbourn Park High School.  The victim, whose name is withheld pending notification of next of kin, was pronounced deceased at the scene.  No foul play is suspected at this time.

7:10 a.m. 

6 a.m. 

5:40 a.m. 

Riders on Virginia Railway Express from Manassas could be delayed this morning.

The transit agency stated via Twitter that it appears a pedestrian was struck by a train.

With the Metro option in place, regular VRE riders can now use their VRE ticket to board the Metro subway system to get to work. The closest Metro station near Manassas is the Vienna station on the Orange line in Fairfax County.

We’ll have more on this as it develops.

News
Woodbridge woman killed in crash on Beltway

Photo: Mary Davidson

A woman from Woodbridge was killed on the Capital Beltway this afternoon.

Here’s the latest in press release from Virginia State Police:

A Woodbridge woman was killed Sunday (January 18) in a two car vehicle crash in Fairfax County.  The crash occurred 1:10 p.m. at I-495 westbound 100 feet west of Route 613.

Virginia State Police Trooper A. M. Hoye investigated the crash.

A 2001 Nissan Pathfinder was coming onto I-495 west from the Van Dorn Ramp when the driver lost control and struck a 2007 BMW that was traveling west on I-495.  The 2001 Nissan upon impact overturned partially ejecting the driver.   

The driver of the Nissan, Dinora Del Carmen Guzman, 49, of Woodbridge, Virginia died at the scene; she was not wearing a seatbelt.  The driver of the BMW, Anthony Adams of Lorton was not injured.

Speed is being considered a factor in the crash.

News
Gas prices fall below $2 per gallon in Stafford

stafford gas 199

Gas for $1.99 – are they out of their minds?

Not in North Stafford where the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas fell below $2 on Tuesday. That’s a drop considering six months ago the price for the same was $3.55 in the same neighborhood, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Fuel Price Finder.

At some gas stations on Route 1 in Stafford, the price fell even lower to $1.97 per gallon at a FasMart and Wawa stations.

The cheapest place to buy gas in Woodbridge on Tuesday was a Wawa at Daniel Stuart Square at Route 1 and Opitz Boulevard, priced at $2.03 per gallon. The area gas price average was higher at $2.13 per gallon.

It’s important to note that the Fuel Price Finder doesn’t list prices for price clubs Costco and Sams Club that normally have cheaper gas than roadside service stations.

011315 fuel forecast

Nationally, the average price for a gallon of unleaded fuel is $2.14. It’s the lowest national average price since May 4, 2009.

Fuel prices should continue to decline, according to the short-term outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Prices will remain low, but creep back up in time for the summer vacation driving season in July to a national average of $2.33 per gallon, according to the forecast.

Consumption of fuel has increased to 9.2 million barrels of oil per day in the U.S. in December. Government officials said that the number should increase to 9.5  billion barrels per day in 2016, putting the U.S. on track to near to the all-time high of 9.6 billion barrels of oil per day not seen since 1970.

Used tires are mysterious. New Cooper Starfire Tires cost about the same

starfire-tire-3starfire-tiretoyo-tiresstarfire-tire-2

Cooper Starfire Tires offer superior life and performance for just a few dollars more than the cost of a used tire

Instead of buying a used tire that you might have to replace sooner than later, consider a new Cooper Starfire Tire.

It’s a great option for someone looking for an inexpensive tire that will help keep their vehicle on the road longer and their occupants of the car safe.

Cooper Starfire Tires are available for multiple makes and models of vehicles. They’re manufactured in Asia and designed in the U.S. to compete with premium brands without the higher price tag of comparable tires.

The tire offers high-performance ability, improved grip and road handling, with an improved overall tire life.

Cooper Starfire Tires are great for drivers who may have purchased a vehicle that is more costly to maintain than first thought, but are still looking for a quality tire that delivers great handling and a quiet performance on the road. With the Starfire option available, drivers should think before purchasing a used tire.

Typically, drivers have no idea what type of life the used tire had before they obtain it. Used tires could be six to eight years old, perhaps older, and have spent the majority of their life as a used tire strapped to a vehicle. While used tires may look good, the rubber can be worn down or degraded after years of sitting idle. Some used tires may also be missing tread and show signs of wear.

Purchasing a Starfire Tire costs about $30 more than what a used tire might cost, but a new tire, on average, will provide three times the life of a single used tire. The price of a Starfire Tire is up to 30% less than other newer tires.  There are many Starfire Tires produced for SUVs, trucks, and the popular Honda Civic and Toyota Camry models.

Hometowne Auto Repair and Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia is now an authorized Cooper Tire dealer and offers a full line of Starfire Tires.

News
VDOT to drivers: Delay your Monday morning commute

Roads in Northern Virginia pretreated for ice, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Drivers are urged to delay their trek into work Monday by at least a few hours to allow highway crews the opportunity to continue to treat roads during the morning rush hour.

“We ask drivers to plan ahead and to use extreme caution if they must drive,” stated Branco Vlacich, VDOT assistant district administrator for maintenance in a press release. “The pretreatment crews have laid will help, but with pavement temperatures below freezing, we will need to treat icy conditions repeatedly during this hours-long storm.”

About 1,450 trucks will be out on area roadways overnight treating roads throughout the area. The rain is expected to begin any time after midnight, and is expected to freeze on contact with the ground surface creating slippery conditions are expected during the early morning hours Monday. Much of the freezing rain is expected to changeover to all rain by late morning.

Highway crews spent time over the weekend pre-treating major roads in Prince William, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Arlington counties, in advance of the storm.

VDOT says bridges and highway on-ramps are especially prone to freezing. Ramps at the Springfield interchange, at Interstate 66 and Route 29, and at the Capital Beltway and Route 1 in Alexandria were all treated with a special mixture of magnesium chloride.

Major routes like Fairfax County Parkway, and Routes 1, 7, 28, 29, 50, and 123 were all treated with a salt brine mix.

Drivers are urged to check VDOT’s website for road conditions prior to beginning their trip on Monday

Teen wins NYC trip with “Say I Won’t” video with Manassas City Police Department

#SayIWont, manassas city police department

Captain Trey Lawler and Chief Doug Keen stand behind Mark Johnson.

In December, City of Manassas resident Mark Johnson had an idea for the #SayIWont video contest put on by Grammy Award winner Lecrae Moore and Reach Records. The video contest asked participants to make a 15 second video showing how “you’re not scared to be different.” Mark’s video featured members of the Manassas City Police Department.

Mark Johnson had the idea, in light of current happenings in other areas of the country, to show a positive relationship between the Manassas City Police Department and a City resident. His video shows him coming into MCPD Roll Call and encouraging the officers about to go out in the field.

Mark went to Osbourn High School in the City of Manassas. After a rocky start, including being expelled from school, Mark went back to Osbourn to finish high school with an advanced diploma. When asked why he chose the Manassas City Police Department to feature in his video, Mark said he remembered the great conversations he had in high school with Officer Cahill and he used that contact to make the video happen. 

On Dec. 12, while attending the Manassas City Police Department holiday luncheon, Mark received a phone call from Reach Records saying he had won the national video contest and had won a trip to New York City to accompany Lecrae Moore to a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We are honored that Mark chose the MCPD to feature in his video,” said Chief Doug Keen from the Manassas City Police Department. “Mark Johnson’s video sheds a positive light on relationships with police officers and those relationships are something we want to promote in the City of Manassas. We congratulate Mark on his award winning video.”

Johnson traveled to New York City in December.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

News
Woodbridge Route 1 power line plan buried? Supervisors to vote again on controversial issue

U.S. 1 at Occoquan Road in North Woodbridge.

Measure would move $12 million away from project, killing it

 

Spend $12 million to bury power lines in Woodbridge? Not so fast.

Prince Willaim Count officials in late 2013 approved funds to bury power lines lines along Route 1 in Woodbridge, between Mary’s Way and the Occoquan River. The lines would be placed underground in conjunction with an effort to widen that same portion of the road from four to six lanes.

The $12 million was taken from two pots of surplus money in county government coffers.  The big idea: make the gateway to the heavily populated, traditionally more blue collar eastern section of Prince William County more aesthetically appealing to drivers entering it from Northern Virginia juggernaut Fairfax County.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, At-large, in October praised the effort. “No other jurisdiction on the east coast from Maine to Florida has put more money into the revitalization of Route 1,” said Stewart.

On Jan. 6, more than a year after deciding to bury the power lines, The Board of Supervisors will once again vote to stay the course and put the lines underground or to reallocate funds elsewhere.

Leading the charge is Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland, who said the Board needs to “reprioritize its spending plans to accommodate revenue constraints, resulting from the current lagging local economy,” according to a resolution in Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting agenda. It’s the latest move from a Republican who often says local government spends too much, and enacts taxing plans that are too burdensome for the county’s middle class residents.

“The economy doesn’t listen to our five-year plan. The people sitting around doing their budgets, their paychecks don’t listen to our five year plan, and we’re still seeing this economy struggle,” Candland said.

Candland has continually criticized his Board’s vote in late 2013 to bury the lines.  The Supervisor’s Gainesville District in western Prince William has residential and retail subdivisions that are only a fraction as old as what sits in Woodbridge. Most if not all power lines are buried in Gainesville.

The ball is already rolling on the plan to bury the lines as engineers have designed working plans to get the job done. The development of those plans also stalled the effort to widen Route 1.

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi says Candland has rehashed this issue too many times, and he equates the debate over the burial of the power lines to Congressional Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare.

“We’ve already spent $2 million in engineering funds on the project. If we turn back, that would be a stupid policy and budgeting decision, and it would require significant delays in Route 1 widening project,” said Principi. “We’ve already put off widening Route 1 for a year to accommodate the design of the underground power lines.”

Corey Stewart still supports burying the lines and suspects Candland won’t have the votes he needs to reverse course.

“We’ve spent 25 years revitalizing Route 1. If we don’t bury them, the power lines will be there forever, and underground forever if we do bury them. To not bury them is being pennywise and pound foolish.”

Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe agrees though he first voted against the project because he didn’t approve of the funding sources.

“Now that’s it’s underway, we can’t stop it now,” said Nohe.

News
Arrest made in fatal Woodbridge crash

Dumfreis, crash, traffic

Richard T. Stewart, 57, of Germantown, Maryland is charged with failure to yield right of way after a fatal crash in Woodbridge.

Stewart was driving a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and was making a left turn from Chesapeake Drive to Route 1 south when it crossed paths with a Yamaha motorcycle traveling north on Route 1. The crash occurred Dec. 2, 2014.

The 31-year-old motorcyclist, of Dumfries, died.

A passenger on the bike suffered serious injuries.

Picture your art here to win

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 10.54.19 AM

Winning artwork to be featured on light poles in Manassas

Have you seen the banners that hang on the light poles in the Historic Downtown area of the City of Manassas and in other cities? If you are an artist or aspiring to be one, the art you create could be hanging on one of those light poles.

Historic Manassas, Inc. and the City of Manassas have launched an art contest to fill the banners in Historic Downtown with original pieces of art. The contest will be juried so that one artist will be awarded a grand prize of $1,000 and there will also be “people’s choice award” of $500. The contest deadline has been extended to Feb. 1, 2015.

This contest is part of an effort to promote art and tourism in the City of Manassas. The winning 50 pieces will be featured on the light pole banners and in a walking tour brochure that includes information on the piece and the artist. Information about the contest can be found at visitmanassas.org/banner-art-project.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

News
I-95 EZ-Pass Express tolls begin Monday, temporary carpool waiver offered

[Submitted photo]

[Submitted photo]

All drivers on the Interstate 95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes must have an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex electronic tolling transponder starting Monday.

Drivers who have  ordered an EZ-Pass Flex and have not received it may sign up for a special one-week grace period with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Here’s more in a press release:

Monday, December 29 and all carpoolers need an E-ZPass Flex to use the lanes toll-free.  The carpool transition program will give regular carpoolers the opportunity to register for a week of HOV only, toll-exempt travel on the 95 Express Lanes if they have taken the necessary step of ordering their E-ZPass® FlexSM but have not yet received their transponder.

It can take up to seven days for carpoolers to receive their E-ZPass Flex when they order online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at 877-762-7824.  Carpoolers who indicate that they plan to carpool with three or more people on the 95 Express Lanes can register to be added to a seven-day HOV, toll-exempt travel list to ensure they can use the Express Lanes while they wait for their E-ZPass Flex to arrive. 

Carpoolers may designate up to one license plate for each E-ZPass Flex transponder ordered.  Customers who order an E-ZPass Flex by 5 p.m. will have their license plates registered for HOV only use on the 95 Express Lanes by 6 a.m. the following business day. 

Carpoolers who wish to have their E-ZPass Flex in-hand sooner can visit one of 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Virginia DMVs and Giant Food Stores, Tysons Corner Center or at E-ZPass Customer Service Centers.

The toll exemption applies to the 95 Express Lanes only – the 495 Express Lanes and other area toll roads are not part of this program. 

The EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 extend from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Alexandria. The lanes will be tolled 24-hours per day, seven days a week.

News
Tips to prevent road rage following bloody incident in Stafford

Leaving earlier, calming music, paying it forward can prevent aggressive driving 

One man was stabbed Sunday in an apparent incident of road rage outside a Walmart in North Stafford.

Two vehicles were sitting at a red light at the intersection of Mine Road and Greenspring Drive when one person got out of the car and stabbed another, according to a Stafford sheriff’s office spokesman.

The Stafford sheriff’s office was called to the scene, but no charges have been filed in the case. Photos of the bloody incident scene were taken by passersby.

Authorities washed away the traces of blood on the street following the investigation.

This latest road rage incident follows an incident in California caught on camera where a woman used her truck and attempted to run another car off a highway.

A majority of road crashes in the U.S. are caused by aggressive driving.

It’s no secret the holidays can be a stressful time for many. Shopping, traffic, mounting credit card bills are just some of what people associate this time of the year with.

There are many things drivers can do to reduce the likelihood of road rage. Listening to calming or inspirational music while behind the wheel, leaving the house earlier to have more travel time, or “paying it forward” by allowing someone to go ahead of you can go a long way in preventing road rage.

“When someone does give their signal and butts in front of you, pay it forward. It’s a random act of kindness. It’s amazing how much that will dispel rage,” said Sharon Killian, clinical services director at Rappahannock Community Services Board.

The Board operates anger management classes and frequently helps people overcome anger issues.

Sometimes, people prone to road rage can be nicer when not behind the wheel.

“Those people who do that, when they’re calm, usually say something like ‘I know I shouldn’t have done that, I’m so impatient,” said Killian. “Usually, people know it’s something that they have to work on inside themselves.”

Drivers in our area are no strangers to traffic. Many have to deal with jammed roadways each day, and it’s important for them to pack their patience.

“People who live in congested areas in Northern Virginia, in congested places like Stafford, they have to practice those skills every day,” said Killian. 

Those who wish to seek help for their anger issues can call the Rappahannock Community Services Board 24 hours a day at 540-373-6876.

News
John Jenkins will have a locomotive named after him

John Jenkins, Sharon Bulova, and Paul Milde all serve on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. [Submitted photo]

All aboard the John Jenkins Express.

Jenkins, the longest currently serving Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is recognized for his participation on the Virginia Railway Express Operations Board. He and eight other VRE Board members who played key roles in the development of the commuter railroad since its founding in 1992 will have their names affixed to the front of VRE locomotives.

Here’s a full list of names that will soon appear on commuter trains:

  • Edwin King – Prince William County (Original Member)
  • James Hugh Payne Sr. – City of Manassas (First Elected City of Manassas Member)
  • Bernard Cohen – VA House of Delegates (Original Member)
  • Bob Gibbons – Stafford County (First Elected Stafford Member)
  • Sally H. Cooper – VDOT (Original Member)
  • Sharon Bulova – Fairfax County (Original and Continuously Serving Member)
  • John Jenkins – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Hilda Barg – Prince William County (Long Serving Member)
  • Elaine McConnell – Fairfax County (Long Serving Member – previously recognized)

The operations board approved adding the names to the locomotives at their monthly meeting this morning.

“Naming locomotives to honor those who helped establish or ensure the success of VRE is a small token of the appreciation we have for the foresight and public service these Board Members have provided in creating VRE,” said  VRE Operations Board Chairman Paul Milde in a press release.

The names that will be affixed to the locomotives belong to those who “played a key role in establishing VRE service, were early or long-tenured members, or whose extraordinary efforts contributed to its success, will be honored by having their names placed on the front of VRE locomotives.”

Virginia Railway Express trains carried more than 320,000 riders in November. Over the past year, the commuter railroad carried 2 million riders.

News
I-95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes offer smooth ride to Stafford

We took a drive on the new Interstate 95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes this afternoon.

The lanes were free to drivers before 3:30 p.m. today, as the lanes are operating under the old HOV rules that require vehicles to have three or more occupants 6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Beginning Dec. 29, all vehicles will need an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex (carpoolers will should use this to not be charged a toll) to use the lanes.

We wanted to drive the new portion of the lanes, from Dumfries south to the Express Lanes’ terminus at Garrisonville Road.

We got on the lanes near Potomac Mills mall, near milepost 156 Dale Boulevard. Midday traffic was light, and we had no issues traveling the stretch of lanes.

The old HOV exit at Route 234 in Dumfries, where all HOV traffic used to merge with the travel lanes of I-95, has been closed. Drivers now proceed about a half mile south to a new flyover exit ramp that carries drivers back to the highway travel lanes as well as connects them to an exit for Joplin Road, Quantico Marine Corps Base, Quantico National Cemetery, and Prince William Forest Park.

We continued south to terminus of the lanes at Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. All drivers are forced to merge into a single lane before transitioning into an exit flyover ramp that carries drivers back to the main lanes of I-95, or connects them to Garrisonville Road.

The I-95 E-Z Pass Express Lanes carry drivers north to Washington in the mornings and then south each afternoon. Officials say the drivers should remain popular with slugs or carpoolers, who ride together in vehicles of three or more occupants for a faster commute to work. Drivers in vehicles with two or fewer occupants will have the option to pay a toll of about $6 to $8 per 1o to 12-mile trip on the lanes, said express lanes spokesman Micheal McGurk. 

The total length of the lanes is 29 miles from Garrisvonville Road to Esdall Road in Alexandria.

 

News
Car burns on I-66 between 234, Prince William Parkway

car on fire 66

Updated

Fire and rescue crews called to the scene extinguished the blaze. 

Prince William fire and rescue Assistant Chief Thomas Jarman said the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived. The driver had fled the scene but later returned.

State police are now investigating what led to the fire.

Original post 

A car was seen burning on Interstate 66 about 9 a.m.

The car was pulled to the side of the eastbound lanes, between Prince William Parkway and Sudley Road (Route 234 Business).

Fire and rescue crews had not yet made it on scene and flames could be seen underneath the car, says a witness who submitted photos of the blaze to Manassas Local.

News
No VRE service Dec. 26

Virginia Railway Express will not operate service the day after Christmas.

Federal workers were granted leave for that day.

The commuter railroad issued the following statement about their adjusted holiday schedule:

December 24, 2014 – “S” Schedule

December 25, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Christmas

December 26, 2014 – No VRE service

December 29-31, 2014 – “S” Schedule

January 1, 2015 – No VRE service in observance of New Year’s Day

January 2, 2015 – “S” Schedule

January 19, 2014 – No VRE service in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“No VRE service” is easy enough to figure out but if you are new to our service, we operate an “S” Schedule on certain days. The only trains that will operate on those days are those that are marked with as “S” next to its train number on the schedule. (We also implement this reduced schedule when inclement weather warrants it.) 

News
What to know ahead of I-95 EZ-Pass lanes opening

Potomac Local continues its effort to keep you informed ahead of the opening of the EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 from North Stafford to Edsall Road in Fairfax County. 

Here is the latest information provide to us about the switch over from HOV lanes to express lanes, which begins Sunday afternoon. The information comes to us via the form of a media briefting from EZ-Pass Express Lanes operator Transurban:

Opening Preparations

Beginning tomorrow, December 12 through Sunday, December 14, we will unveil all Express Lanes signage.  All HOV lanes will be closed starting the evening of Friday, December 12 until the evening of Sunday, December 14.

Roadway Opening

The evening of Sunday, December 14 the new roadway improvements will open including:

  • Nine-mile extension from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road
  • Third lane from Prince William Parkway to the vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395
  • All new entry and exit points

From December 14 – 28, when the new capacity is open, HOV rules will continue to be in effect.  The HOV regulatory signs will remain in place and dynamic message signs (DMS) will communicate the HOV rules. 

The new lane use management system and the variable speed limit system will be turned on.  Drivers should follow the speed posted on the variable speed limit signs. The lane use management system will alert drivers if a lane is closed to traffic.  If a red “X” is displayed above, drivers should exit that lane as soon as it is safe to do so.

For two weeks, until Sunday, December 28, the Express Lanes (new capacity and new entries/exits) will be toll-free to allow travelers to benefit from the additional capacity during the holiday season.  Standard HOV rules apply (with the exception of holidays).

Gate Operations

Transurban will assume gate operations along the entire I-95 and I-395 corridor on Sunday, December 14.  Gate transition time on the HOV and Express Lanes facilities is expected to increase due to the nine mile southern extension and new gates.  Drivers should expect delays in the afternoon transition to reverse the flow of the traffic southbound.  Ultimately, the gates transition will return to standard times experienced today.

On Monday, December 15, the gates will begin to close at 10:30 a.m. instead of 11 a.m.  This will help accommodate southbound traffic in the afternoon.

Tolling Begins

Tolling begins Monday, December 29.  All drivers will need an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex (carpoolers) to use the Express Lanes.

News
I-95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes open Monday

Photo By Trevor Wrayton/VDOT

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe cuts the ribbon on the 95 Express Lanes project with Senator Mark Warner, U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, Senator Tim Kaine and other elected officials on December 10 at a ceremony at Transurban’s operation center in Alexandria. The new ramps and lanes on I-95 will open Sunday, Dec. 14 to allow motorists to benefit from the lanes during the holiday season without having to pay a toll. Standard HOV rules will continue to be in effect during rush hour until tolling begins on December 29. [Submitted photo]

I-95 EZ-Pass Express Lanes tolling begins in 2 weeks

Update

Drivers will not need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 when they open Monday. The lanes will operate under old HOV lanes rules that require vehicle to have three or more occupants between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3:30 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The lanes will be open to traffic at all other times.

Staring Dec. 29, all drives will need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the lanes, and the lanes will be tolled at all times. Virginia State Police are required to enforce the new rules.

Original post

The new reversible EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95 will open to traffic Monday.

The opening marks the culmination of a 2-year, $990 million effort to convert the existing HOV facility on I-95 from Dumfries to Edsall Road to new lanes that will all be electronically tolled. New tolled lanes were also built from Dumfries south to Garrisonville Road in North Stafford.

All drivers will need an EZ-Pass to use the lanes as there are no toll booths on the lanes. Drivers who carpool will need an EZ-Pass Flex that will allow them to flip a switch on the device that tells the all-electronic toll booths not to charge if there are three or more people in the vehicle.

The lanes will continue to carry motorists north in the mornings and south in the evenings.

Click here to get a map of the new lanes and see how to use them

 

Tolling on the lanes will begin Dec. 29. That will give drivers time to learn the layout of the new lanes, and construction crews and additional two weeks to continue working on the finishing touches to the lanes.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement:

“The 95 Express Lanes are an investment in Virginia’s economy,” Governor McAuliffe said.  “Not only did the project create thousands of jobs during construction and put more than 500 businesses to work, the new infrastructure will also support future economic development and job growth in the region.  The improved mobility and new access that will be provided by the project will help ensure that Virginia remains a great place to live and do business. My team and I are working every day to build a new Virginia economy, and this important project will help us advance that important goal.”

Those words came after state and local officials gathered Wednesday for a ribbon cutting ceremony to herald the opening.

Drivers using the lanes will notice variable tolling, and will be charged one price per mile of distance they travel on the lanes. While a driver’s EZ-Pass locks in the toll rate when the vehicle enters the lanes, prices to use the lanes will rise as more cars enter the lanes, and will fall as fewer cars on the lanes.

The lanes were built and will be maintained through a public-private partnership with Virginia and Transurban, an Australia-based company that will operate and profit from the lanes for nearly 100 years. Transurban also constructed and maintains EZ-Pass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road, where four new lanes, and 14 new bridges were added to that portion of the Beltway to accommodate an increase in traffic.

  • The governor also distributed key points about the project identified as benefits for commuters:

  • An expanded system from two to three lanes for 14 miles between Prince William Parkway to the vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395

  • Improvement of the existing HOV system for six miles from Route 234 to the Prince William Parkway

  • A nine-mile extension from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to alleviate the bottleneck where the HOV lanes end today

  • Improved system performance through enhanced enforcement and incident response

  • New access points offering more direct connections

The new EZ-Pass Express Lanes on I-95 will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, tolling will be in effect at all times.

Under the rules of the old HOV lanes, drivers were required to have three or more occupants inside their car 6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Drivers were then able to use the lanes freely at all other times.

 

 

 

News
Crews erecting overhead sign closing portion of I-95

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

Road crews needing to install a new overhead sign on Interstate 95 near Dumfries must close a northbound portion of the highway late Wednesday night / early Thursday morning.

Here’s more in a press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation: 

Weather permitting, all northbound lanes on I-95, (near the truck-weigh station, mile marker 154.1, just north of Dumfries Road/Route 234), will close between midnight, Wednesday, Dec. 10 and 5 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 11, for the installation of an overhead sign structure.
 
This closure will last up to 15 minutes, and may be repeated a second time. Single lane closures will begin in this area of I-95 North on Wednesday night, starting as early as 9:00 p.m. Message signs will be posted in advance of the work so that motorists can plan accordingly.

The closures are part of VDOT’s project to add auxiliary lanes and enhance the safety shoulder along north- and southbound I-95 in Prince William County. These improvements are expected to be completed by summer 2015.

News
Minor injuries in Prince William Parkway pedestrian crash

A pedestrian involved in a crash this morning on Prince William Parkway suffered minor injuries.

The crash occurred on the parkway, between Route 1 and Interstate 95. The closure prompted some delays for morning commuters in the area.

The road was closed for a police investigation following the crash. The road was reopened at 7:15 a.m., said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

News
Hit and run crash damages pillar at shopping center, witness says

crash, woodbridge, potomac mills

A hit and run crash damaged a pillar at the Potomac Festival shopping center in Woodbridge. [Submitted photo]

A driver hit a post inside the Potomac Mills Festival shopping center in Woodbridge.

The hit and run crash happened Monday night, according to Sarah Wyatt, who posted a photo of the damaged pillar to her Facebook page.

Never a dull moment. Watched a truck do this before my very eyes and then drive off, only to find out later he crashed into 2 more vehicles and crashed into a wall by Outback.

-Sarah Wyatt, photographer 

According to Wyatt, the crash happened near Swim Kids. As soon as the vehicle hit the pillar, the vehicle sped away, she added.

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Should Prince William raise taxes to fill $17.7 million bus budget gap?

Average tax bills could rise by $80 to offset budget shortfall

Commuter bus service in Prince William County is heading toward a fiscal cliff.

A budget deficit of $17.7 million is looming for OmniRide commuter buses and OmniLink local buses. The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission or PRTC — the agency that operates the buses — asked Prince William leaders to help make up a budget shortfall that could lead to 1/3 of all PRTC to be slashed, starting in 2018.

PRTC expects the state to provide 10% fewer dollars than it last year. Additionally, a surplus of monies collected in the 2.3% motor fuels tax — a tax on every gallon of fuel purchased in the county — is expected to run out by 2018.

With the drop in fuel prices, and newer cars getting more miles per gallon, gas tax revenues are expected to be flat over the next several years despite Prince William’s growing population, said PRTC Executive Director Al Harf.

Prince William County is the largest funder of PRTC, as 86% of riders live in the county. The county gave $15.2 million to both PRTC and Virginia Railway Express this year, while Virginia provided $16.2 million, and the Federal Government $2.7 million.

The bus system now wrangles with the costs of maintenance, purchasing new buses to replace old ones, and has seen fewer dollars than expected from last year’s landmark transportation bill that increased sales taxes to generate an estimated $880 million in new revenue for transportation and transit. Harf says the linger affects of the recession, the impact of sequestration, and lower fuel costs are all to blame for the lower funds.

Prince William leaders have the option of footing the entire $17.7 million bill, placing the tax burden on the backs of county taxpayers.

“We would need a significant amount of funding from the general fund to accomplish this,” Prince William County Budget Director Michelle Casciato told officials in September.

Total funding would lead to an $80 increase to the average property tax bill paid by county residents. Because of a revenue sharing agreement between the county government and its public school system, education funding would automatically be increased by the move.

County leaders also have the option of diverting monies already allocated toward traffic improvement projects, such as widening Minnieville, Balls Ford, Neabsco Mills, and Vint Hill roads, and using the dollars to fund the transit service. That option would push back construction completion dates on the road projects by up to 10 years and, due to inflation, would mean the projects could cost more in the long run.

If the county picks up only some of the cost, about $13 million, then PRTC warns local buses and buses that service Metro stations in Springfield and Vienna would run less frequently. Riders could also expect large annual fare increases, rising as much as 42%, beginning in 2016.

“Once you lose a rider, you’ve lost them,” said Harf. “More people would rely on family and friends, and they would be carpooling where they are not carpooling now.” 

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors will begin working on the fiscal year 2016 budget in earnest after the 1st of the year.

Manassas and Manassas Park residents also use the bus service, but those independent cities do not contribute funding to PRTC. If the cities did, it would help to close the budget gap by $2 million, said Harf.

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