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Traffic & Transit

Today’s Obama Visit in Fairfax Brings Road Closures

(Photo: Mary Davidson)

By KJ MUSHUNG

FAIRFAX, Va. – President Barack Obama is appearing in Fairfax, Va., at George Mason University on Friday, Oct. 19. Exactly two weeks ago he spoke at the college’s Center for the Arts. This time, however, he will speak at the Recreation and Athletic Complex.

 The complex is located at 4350 Banister Creek Court in Fairfax.

The president is expected to discuss the choice facing women in this election and his commitment to giving women more control over their personal health care decisions. He is scheduled to go on at 11:45 a.m.

Virginia State Police are warning drivers to expect lengthy delays in the area of GMU today as security precautions will prompt the closure of some roads. More form state police:

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, any vehicles larger than a sport utility vehicle (SUV) will be detoured off of Route 123/Ox Road near GMU.

Such vehicles traveling north on Route 123 will be detoured around GMU as follows:

Right on Braddock Road

Left on Roberts Road

Left on Main Street (Route 236 West) to Route 123 north

Such vehicles traveling south on Route 123 will be detoured around GMU as follows:

Left onto School Street

Left onto George Mason Boulevard

Right onto Main Street (Route 236 East)

Right onto Roberts Road

Right onto Zion Road

Left onto Route 123 South

 

Twice Delayed Gas Line Relocation Starts Tonight

Crews work to relocate a gas line at Potomac Crest townhomes at Occoquan and Old Bridge roads.

OCCOQUAN, Va. – Officials hope the third time is the charm for an attempt to relocate a six-inch gas line near Occoquan.

The pipe at Occoquan and Old Bridge roads needs to be moved because it’s in conflict with a sanitary line that has been designed for a new neighborhood, the Potomac Crest condominiums and townhomes. Once the line is relocated, 76 new townhomes – some of which have already been purchased – can be delivered to their new owners.

The homes sit on a hill overlooking busy commuter route Old Bridge Road, and are nestled next to existing apartments on Dara Drive. A base model new home in this development sells for $290,000 while luxury models are priced at $300,000.

But ongoing delays to relocate the gas line has cost developer Basheer and Edgemore at least $25,000, said spokesman Mark Fields

The problematic gas line, which wasn’t originally accounted for in plans for the new neighborhood, was located May 17. Shortly thereafter, Potomac Crest developers went back to their drawing board and worked up plans to reroute their  water and sewer utility lines to avoid a conflict with the gas line. But a clash between a new sanitary line and the gas line couldn’t be avoided, and that’s when Washington Gas called in a contractor to relocate the line, said Fields.

The relocation work is scheduled to begin tonight with overnight closures of a portion of Occoquan Road occurring each night this week. It’s the third time it’s been planned, with previous unmet completion dates in August and September, said Fields.

PotomacLocal.com spoke with Washington Gas on Friday to get details about what has prolonged the work but the utility was not immediately able to provide them.

Detour signs warning drivers to tonight’s detour are posted. The closures will take place from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday night through Friday morning. Drivers will be directed to use Riverview Lane to Va. 123 to Old Bridge Road.

For Art Klos at the Virginia Department of Transportation, it’s been an ever more frustrating task to communicate to elected officials and to drivers about a detour that keeps getting pushed back.

“I regret to inform you that the night work on Occoquan Road has been postponed until next week. Hazel Construction, with the support of the Police Department, is on standby ready to proceed. Unfortunately, their work continues to be delayed due to relocation of the gas main,” stated Klos in an email to public officials.

While a portion of Occoquan Road south of Old Bridge Road carries 13,000 cars per day, the portion of the road that will be detoured carries 2,000 cars per day, said Klos.

Lane on Va. 234 at Montclair Closing Until Dec.

DUMFRIES, Va. ? Beginning Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, drivers can expect the right lane of southbound Route 234 (Dumfries Road) to be closed at Country Club Drive (Route 1450). The lane will be closed through mid-December as crews construct a retaining wall and shared-use path.

Two of the three travel lanes in this area will remain open at all times during peak hours.

-Press release

Person Struck, Killed on VRE Line

4:30 p.m. 

VRE train 325 will continue to Broad Run station in Manassas. VRE train 329 will stop at Burke Center station where buses will be waiting to pick up passengers.

4:20 p.m. 

OmniRide buses will honor VRE tickets presented at West Falls Church station on Metro’s Orange line. Additionally for passengers stranded on Manassas line VRE train 325: the commuter rail agency assures buses are still en route to Burke Center VRE station to offload stranded passengers.

However, VRE states it has another train available and it is approaching the stranded passengers from Manassas. That train will be able take on passengers from train 325 and bring them to Manassas.

3:30 p.m.

A male described as a trespasser who wandered onto railroad tracks near Clifton was struck and killed by a Virginia Railway Express train.

The collision happened this afternoon and, according to VRE spokesman Mark Roeber, Fairfax County police have told the commuter rail agency the person who was struck has died.

The commuter railroad has already canceled five trains that normally ferry passengers from Washington’s Union Station to Broad Run; trains 327, 331, 336, 338, and 333. VRE said trains 329,325, and 337 will all run as scheduled.

Passengers aboard train 325 were stopped at Burke Center at 2:20 p.m. after reports came in someone on the tracks had been struck. Buses have been called to pick up stranded passengers on train 325 and take them to their destinations.

The commuter railroad has urged anyone planning to use the Manassas line tonight to find an alternate route home. VRE activated its Metro option and suggested riders opt to use the subway as an alternate means of getting home tonight.

This latest incident comes after body parts that were thought to be human were found along the rail line in Manassas Park last month. An investigation halted all service along the rail line.

The found body parts were later determined not to be human.

 

2 Helicopters Called to Highway Crash Scene

QUANTICO, Va. – Two helicopters were called this morning to fly two injured patients to a hospital following a crash.

The crashed happened in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 at Quantico at 8:21 a.m., said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

All lanes of the northbound portion of the highway at the crash scene were closed so rescue crews could attend to the victims and the crash.

Two lanes were reopened at 9:19 a.m. so traffic could get by the crash, and all lanes reopened about 20 minutes later.

Details of the crash have not been released and the victims have not been identified.

 

Friendly, Breakfast-Offering Driver Fools Slug

092012-Slug-Tales

By LAURA CIRILLO

I feel like I’ve been duped.

This morning I parked at the new Telegraph Road Commuter Lot only to find there were no cars waiting to pick up slugs. I wasn’t surprised, as the lot is still very new, and in the handful of times I’ve parked there so far, I’ve yet to see any drivers waiting.

So I set off walking from the new lot to the Horner Road Commuter Lot, where I knew I’d be more likely to find a ride. As I was making the trek, an SUV pulled alongside me, and its occupants asked if I was going to Washington.

I told them that I was going to L’Enfant Plaza and they said OK, so I hopped in. The couple was really nice, and even asked if I wanted some of the breakfast they had picked up on the way. I politely declined, but thought, what nice people. They had saved me from the remainder of a pretty long walk, offered to feed me, and then were dropping me off at my destination, even though the lady mentioned she was going to the State Department.

Or so I thought.

Once we were on the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, I had to at least close my eyes – I’ve been so tired lately. Rushing as usual, I had forgotten my sunglasses in my car, but it was a bit dark and dreary this morning anyway. I dozed off almost immediately.

When I opened my eyes, we were approaching the exit for the Pentagon, but I realized the driver was getting into the left lane to exit toward the Memorial Bridge, which does not lead to L’Enfant Plaza.

“Wait!” I wanted to call out to him. “Where are you going?!”

We shouldn’t be going left! L’Enfant is straight ahead, across the 14th Street Bridge!

Instead, I said nothing, slowly realizing we must have misunderstood each other. I was assuming they would drive me where I told them I was going, and they must have assumed that I had agreed to get out near the State Department, where she was going. Well, we all know what happens when we assume.

Oh well, I thought. I’ll just have to get out by a Metro station, so that I can get to my office. At least I had made it to Washington, which was closer than I had started at the commuter lot.

Just then, I heard the couple in the front seat discussing where they were going to drop off.

“She’s going to, uh, ‘Elephant,’ I think she said,” said the lady.

“Elephant?’ Where’s that?” asked the driver.

“I don’t know where ‘Elephant’ is at. Maybe straight ahead?” she wondered. She said she’d call her friend and ask if there was a Metro nearby, to get to ‘Elephant.’

Wait a minute: they don’t even know how to get to a Metro station from here?

I started to feel uneasy; my apparent good luck this morning had run out. I’ve been desperate and taken rides to 18th Street NW before, but usually only as a last resort, since it’s so far from my office. The traffic is always backed up forever, and once I get there, the Metro stations are still six or seven stops away. So inconvenient.

But at the same time, I couldn’t complain about getting a ride. I was just frustrated with the situation in general, and I was definitely going to be late to work.

Finally, we were approaching the Foggy Bottom Metro station, but traffic was unmoving. The driver asked if I minded walking the last couple of blocks, and I thought, why not? The road was so congested that I might as well walk the rest of the way. And maybe it would help me to blow off some steam, too.

As I got out of the car, I reminded myself again that I was closer than I had started, and it could always be worse.

And maybe I wasn’t duped, but that misunderstanding certainly cost me quite a bit of time this morning!

At least I made it to work.

Safety Improvements Underway on Old Bridge Road

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – Old Bridge Road will not be widened but it will be made safer.

Work is now underway along the four-lane commuter route that slows the commutes of many during the morning and afternoon rush hours.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has listed the following projects underway or completed as of this month:

Reduce run-off-road crashes at Colby Drive

-Reduce run-off-road accidents by adding “superelevation” and modifying adverse crown on the westbound lanes and Vertical Alignment Improvements at Colby Drive.

-Project was advertised for construction in Spring 2012. Construction has started and is scheduled to be completed in late 2012.

Improved Signal at Elysian Drive

-Improve signal visibility and upgrade traffic signal at Elysian Dr.

-Project was advertised for Construction in Spring 2012. Construction has been completed.

Upgraded pedestrian facilities at Clipper Drive

-Upgrade traffic signal, improve signal visibility and provide pedestrian accommodations at Clipper Drive.

-Project was advertised for Construction in Summer 2012. Construction to proceed in 2012.

Traffic signal at Occoquan Road

-Upgrade traffic signal at Occoquan Road.

-Project was advertised for Construction in July 2012. Construction is nearly completed.

Improvements at Antietam Road

-Install Signal Display for EB and WB approaches, Relocate Bus Stop Sign, provide ADA Ramp and sidewalk to Bus Stop, and provide Guardrail End Treatment at Antietam -Road project is currently under Design Phase. Construction advertisement is scheduled for mid 2014 (looking to accelerate under regional signal contract).

Signal, pedestrian improvements at Springwoods Drive

-Extend Left Turn Lane, Upgrade existing traffic signal to Mast Arm and Install Pedestrian Crossings at Springwoods Drive.

-Project is currently under Design Phase. Construction advertisement is scheduled for mid 2014.

ADA ramps at Hedges Run Drive

-Upgrade existing Signal and install Pedestrian Crossings with ADA Ramps at Hedges Run Drive (design is being coordinated with County Sidewalk/ Superelevation project).

-Project is currently under Design Phase. Construction advertisement is scheduled for mid 2014 (looking to accelerate under regional signal contract).

Improvements at Westridge Drive

-Upgrade Existing Traffic Signal and convert span wire signal support to mast arm mounts at Westridge Drive.

-Project is currently under Design Phase. Construction advertisement is scheduled for mid 2014 (looking to accelerate under regional signal contract).

Turn lanes, ramps at Mohican Drive

-Upgrade Signal to Mast Arm Design, Install Ped. Crossings w. ADA Ramps; Construct/ Offset WB Left Turn Lane on Old Bridge Road at Mohican Drive (design is being coordinated with County Sidewalk/ Superelevation project).

-Project is currently under Design Phase. Construction advertisement is scheduled for mid 2014.

Traffic signal at Smoketown Road

-Upgrade existing traffic signal from Span Wire to Mast Arm at Smoketown Rd.

-Project is currently under Design Phase. Construction advertisement is scheduled for mid 2014 (looking to accelerate under regional signal contract).

Sidewalk from Hedges Run to Festival at Old Bridge

-Construct sidewalk and improve the cross section to provide more “superelevation” on north side of Old Bridge Road, from Hedges Run toDillingham Square/Cricket Lane.

-VDOT Safety project was combined with County sidewalk project for improved coordination and accelerated construction. Project scheduled to be advertised for construction fall 2012.

Visibility improvements at Harbor Drive

-Offset left turn lanes to improve sight distance and signal visibility at Harbor Drive.

-Project was advertised for construction in Spring 2012. Construction has started and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2013.

Sidewalk between Titania and Cricket lanes

-Construct sidewalk, handicap ramps, crosswalks, and install pedestrian signals at specific intersections from Titania to Cricket Lane

-Project was advertised for construction in October 2011. Construction has been completed.

Drivers should expect to see orange cones in the area for the foreseeable future as these projects continue, and most of the daytime work will take place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to avoid the height of the rush hour periods, said Prince William Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May.

May said commuters have called him to report instances of slow traffic, and at least one instance where construction crews forgot to remove equipment from the road.

More from may in a emailed statement to his constituents:

“When completed, these projects should improve safety and promote better traffic flow along Old Bridge. However, in the meantime, you will see construction equipment and activity and it will have some impact on travel conditions from time to time.”

“In fact, about two weeks ago on Friday afternoon at about 5:00 p.m., my office received a phone call from a concerned constituent who mentioned that VDOT had forgotten to remove the barriers from the construction project between Rolling Brook and Harbor before rush hour began.”

“As a result, we alerted the county police and officers were immediately dispatched to move the barriers in order to increase the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, as many of you commuting that day probably realized, the traffic situation had already become a disaster,” stated May. 

 

Modern Day Marine Brings Traffic Changes

042312 Quantico Flag

QUANTICO, Va. – The roads in and out of Quantico Marine Corps Base this week may be jammed thanks to the annual Modern Day Marine exposition.

Modern Day Marine takes place Tuesday through Thursday. Quantico officials will be busy shuttling exhibitors on and off the base, and drivers in the area can expect longer than normal delays between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. each day.

Quantico officials say they will put an extensive traffic management plan into effect for the base during the event.

The event will take place on the base’s Lejeune Field. Officials said Floyd/Engineer Road to Buffalo Pond Road will remain open so drivers can access U.S. 1 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. each day of the event.

Founded in 1981, Modern Day Marine was moved to Quantico in 1993 at the invitation of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

 

HOV Ramp Closing

Beginning on or about October 1, the I-95 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) slip ramp from the southbound HOV lanes (south of the Fairfax County Parkway) to the general purpose lanes will close permanently to allow for construction of an additional travel lane for the 95 Express Lanes Project.

Motorists will transition from the HOV lanes to the general purpose lanes using the left exit ramp marked: Route 286 Fairfax County Parkway/Newington/ Ft. Belvoir. The next opportunity to exit the southbound HOV lanes will be at Route 1, Exit 161.

View a map of the Lorton slip ramp closure. The Project is scheduled to be complete in late 2014.

 

-Press release

Friend Saves Day after Parking Lot Amnesia

092012-Slug-Tales

By LAURA CIRILLO

I love it when I walk out to the Slug Line right outside of my office building and get a ride right away.

I hate it when I realize halfway there that I’m not parked in the commuter lot where the driver is going to drop me off.

The week before school started again, I found myself in this very predicament. I left my office right at 5 p.m, walked out to the Slug Line and found a line of cars sitting idle, with no slugs waiting in line. Because I had plans that evening to attend a concert, I was thrilled to be in a car and heading back towards home so quickly.

Usually, my ride home is spent either napping or tweeting commuter-related traffic alerts on Twitter to keep my fellow slugs updated during rush hour, but that afternoon, I was eagerly texting my friends to let them know that I was on my way to meet them… until I realized that I wasn’t.

All of a sudden, like a ton of bricks, it hit me: I was being driven to the Horner Road Commuter lot in Woodbridge, and I was not parked there.

During the summer, I had been able to park at the Horner lot almost every day, so I had become used to getting in the returning Slug Line. However, I had to make a stop on my way in that morning, which set me back and forced me to park at the commuter lot at Va. 123, near Occoquan, where I could take the last OmniRide bus.

It was the first time in a long time that I had parked there, and it had totally slipped my mind. Just as panic began to set in, I started to think – how could I get from one lot to the other?

When picking up Slugs, the driver calls out their destination, and unless requested otherwise, that is where the Slugs will be dropped off. It is understood that neither slug nor driver will ask later along the ride to be dropped off somewhere completely different or out of the way.

And since there’s always another passenger in the car, I would have to assume that they are most likely going to be dropped off at the same location. I certainly couldn’t ask at that point for the driver to take me somewhere else, regardless of what hardship it might cause me.

The lot was definitely too far for me to walk. I wondered if I should call a cab. Would I have time? I had places to go, people to see! Did I even have cash? Ugh.

I sent a flustered text message to one of my friends whom I was meeting up with that night, knowing that she’d be coming down the highway from work as well, hoping that the timing would work so that I could ride with her.

And luckily, the timing worked out perfectly. My friend came and saved the day; she picked me up at the commuter lot and we both made it on time to the concert with the rest of our group.

When we got home after the concert that night, still on a high from the music and dancing, my friend turned to me and asked, “So, where is your car?”

After all of the excitement, I had completely forgotten to go back to pick up my car that night. Oops…

Let’s just say I’m a lot more careful now to remember where I’ve parked each day!

 

Found Human Remains Halts VRE Commute

UPDATE 

VRE says it will run regular service on its Manassas line Thursday. An announcement will be made at 4:30 a.m. if that decision changes. 

MANASSAS PARK, Va. – Human remains were found today along railroad tracks in Manassas Park.

The discovery has prompted all service along Virginia Railway Express’ Manassas line to halt at Clifton as police investigate the situation.

VRE Manassas train 321 has stopped in the small Town of Clifton in Fairfax County, while other trains have been halted at VRE’s Burke Center Station. At least 21 OmniRide commuter buses have been dispatched to carry passengers who have been offloaded at these two stations, said VRE spokeman Mark Roeber.

Manassas line train 337 that was on its way to Manassas has returned to a VRE station in Alexandria where riders will depart the train and have an option to board Metro or use a taxi cab to get home.

A body part was found in a suspicious black package alongside the railroad tracks. VRE was tipped off about the discovery about 6 p.m., and railroad officials then called Manassas Park police who were already investigating the discovery, said Roeber.

Afterward, service on the Manassas line halted. Service on VRE’s Fredericksburg line which serves Stafford and Woodbridge has not been affected.

 

Carpooling Urged for Woodbridge Obama Rally

President Barack Obama gets fired up at a rally in Leesburg, Va., on Aug. 2, 2012. (Photo by: KJ Mushung)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Signs warning of potential traffic delays are posted near the Prince William County Government Center in Woodbridge.

They’re there to warn drivers to expect delays Friday as President Barack Obama and his motorcade descends onto on Richard G. Pfitzner Stadium – home of the Potomac Nationals minor league baseball team – for a political campaign rally.

The stadium is nestled behind the county’s government center, and doors there open for the rally at 9:30 a.m. with the president scheduled to speak sometime afterward.

Prince William police in a statement today said pack your patience if you plan to drive in the area:

*TRAFFIC* President Obama will be campaigning at Potomac Nationals’ Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge on Friday. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. at 7 County Complex Ct. Woodbridge, VA 22192.

Parking on site is limited and guests are encouraged to carpool when possible. Motorist not attending the event, may consider alternate routes.

HOT Lanes Prompting Stafford Noise Rule Changes

Crews clear some of the first trees at Triangle to make way for new High Occupancy Toll lanes on Interstate 95. (Virginia Department of Transportation)

STAFFORD, Va. – Officials are slated to make an emergency exception to noise rules for high occupancy toll lane construction on Interstate 95.

Stafford County officials tonight will vote on a proposed amendment to the county’s noise ordinance that limits daytime noise to 65 decibels, 55 decibels at night. Work to extend two express lanes down the center median of I-95 from Dumfries to North Stafford will exceed 80 decibels, according to a county report.

The solution: make an exception for the construction because it will provide overall traffic relief for commuters in the area, the report states.

A resolution outlining the change is already written and awaiting approval by a final vote from the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, which meets tonight.

Without this amendment to the noise code, the builders of the High Occupancy Toll lanes dubbed 95 Express Lanes, Fluor-Lane 95, LCC, would be in violation of the county’s noise order. Officials said due to the nature of the work it would be impossible for Fluor-Lane, LLC to ever be in compliance with current rules.

Stafford County officials note a letter they received from the Assistant Attorney General of Virginia noting Fluor-Lane, LCC, and any road crew working for the Virginia Department of Transportation, are exempt from any local noise ordinance.

When complete in 2014, the 95 Express Lanes will carry traffic from North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria, allowing single drivers to pay a toll to avoid traffic congestion or allow vehicles with three or more occupants to ride free with an approved E-Z Pass transponder. A variable toll rate will be used to charge drivers per mile for the use of the lanes, and tolls will go up or down depending upon how many cars in using the lanes.

 

VRE Chief Hired Amid Salary Debate

TRANSIT >> VIRGINIA RAILWAY EXPRESS 

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The man who will lead Virginia Railway Express for the next 20 years comes to the region from Austin, Texas.

Doug Allen was picked from a field of contenders to lead Virginia’s only commuter rail service. Prior to VRE, Allen was the Executive Vice President of Capital Metro where 32.4 million people boarded their buses and light rail line in 2011.

So far this year, VRE clocked its highest passenger ridership day on July 24 with nearly 21,000 passenger trips.

“The Operations Board felt that Mr. Allen’s background and his previous experience made him a perfect fit for moving VRE ahead in the years to come,” said VRE Chairman Wally S. Covington.

But Allen’s hiring did not come without some controversy, as some of the commuter rail’s Operations Board tried to block the hiring.

The Washington Post reports Prince William County Delegates Richard Anderson and Jackson Miller, Stafford County Board of County Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson, and Spotsylvania Supervisor Benjamin Pitts – who all serve on the VRE Operations Board — voted against hiring Allen during closed door session of the Operations Board meeting. At issue was Allen’s $230,000 annual salary, $30,000 for moving expenses, $30,000 in deferred compensation throughout the life of his contract, and health insurance included, according to the Post.

Allen is the permanent replacement for former CEO Dale Zehner who left VRE in June after nearly 20 years of growing the commuter rail system into the growing system it has become.

VRE operates two lines between Virginia and Union Station in Washington: One line from Fredericksburg, and another from the Manassas Regional Airport to Washington, D.C.

 

Wife Wishes Slug Driver Would Put Up Car Windows

To roll the windows up or down when riding with Slugs? That is the question.

When cruising solo or with familiar people, that question is more easily answered. But when driving Slugs up and down the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, it could be a bit trickier.

Sure, the weather has been beautiful, and who doesn’t love the fresh air? Problem is, Slugs don’t usually have a say in opening or closing the windows, or adjusting the heat or air conditioning – and technically, Slugs are supposed to remain “seen and not heard.” So, what’s a Slug to do when the driver decides to go full speed ahead with the windows down if they’re not comfortable?

To the non-commuter, this topic may seem silly; however, as a Slug that has experienced this very situation more than once, I can tell you, it’s nothing to joke about. Rolling the windows down at 70 mph or more can be a very serious issue.

Back when I used to Slug from Potomac Mills mall, I once rode with a gentleman who pulled up to the Slug line with all four windows rolled down. I remember the weather was beautiful that morning, in the 70’s and not a cloud in sight. It was the kind of day that you might be tempted to call in sick, just to stay outdoors and soak up the sunshine, rather than being stuck in the office all day. But I digress…

I was first in line, so I hopped in the backseat while another passenger sat in the front passenger seat, and off we went.

Drivers normally roll the window down to call out their destination when they approach the Slug line, but generally speaking, all windows are up and the heat or AC is running once they’re on the highway.

At first, the breeze felt nice and I daydreamed about staying out and enjoying it all day. Then came the hardcore heavy metal, which was quite unexpected, coming from this 30-something professional (driving a hybrid, by the way). But, whatever. Music choice is not something that bothers me either way, but it was VERY loud.

When we got onto the HOV lanes, I assumed that the windows would go up, the AC would be circulating, and the music might be turned down a bit. The really crazy screaming part of the song had just kicked in, and I began to accept that my morning nap was not going to happen that day. Not to mention, my hair was whipping around in the wind, getting more and more tangled by the second.

I decided at that point that rules were meant to be broken, at least some of the rules are, and it was time to roll my own window up. However, I was still new to the Slugging world, and not yet comfortable complaining to the driver. Instead, I used my phone to record the part of the ride, and jokingly sent it to some friends. Welcome to my world, I told them. The wonderful world of Slugging!

A few weeks later, I rode from the same commuter lot one morning with a lady I’d never met before. As we waited in the lot for another passenger, her cell phone rang, and she said it was her husband. They hadn’t realized that they were both driving to work on the same day, and he told her that they should have planned to ride together.

Shaking her head and laughing as she hung up the phone, she exclaimed, “I can’t ride with him! I can’t stand his music, and he insists on leaving all of the windows down, even with Slugs in the car!”

Hmmm, I thought… her husband couldn’t possibly be the same man I’d ridden with just a few weeks earlier, could it?

Just as the thought ran through my mind, there was the same 30-something hybrid driver, music cranked and windows down, pulling in right behind us in the Slug line.

His wife waved at him in the rear view mirror, and again, shook her head.

“I hope he at least turns the music down when people get in,” she wondered out loud.

I wanted to tell her, no. No, he won’t turn the music down.

And he won’t roll those windows up, either.

Bus Overhaul Project Nearly Halfway Done

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

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – New life is being breathed into the rides of many commuters.

A total of 61 OmniRide commuter buses are in the process of being overhauled. The transit agency is nearing the halfway point of the project with the 29th bus completed last month, and the 30th bus that needs an overhaul is ready to be placed in the shop.

The bus overhauls will extend the life of transit buses used weekdays by commuters headed from Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park into parts of Northern Virginia and Washington.

The overhauls come as five new buses were delivered last month to OmniRide’s parent agency, the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.

With the new buses in place, the transit agency plans to auction off nine of the oldest buses in its fleet dating back to 1993. The buses will be auctioned off one at a time by a professional auctioneer to maximize return for PRTC, according to a report from agency director Alfred H. Harf.

The new arrival of the new buses also means PRTC will have more flexibility when it comes to pulling another bus out of service and placing it into the overhaul program.

Last year, PRTC had 135 buses in its fleet and carried 3.3 million passengers.

 

Fire Department Warns of Traffic Delays

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Funeral services for Woodbridge Occoquan Lorton VFD Fire Chief Richard Arrington will be held Saturday, and local roads will be impacted by a funeral procession.

After the ceremony at First Baptist Church on at Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road in Woodbridge at noon, a motorcade will leave the church for Fairfax County.

The volunteer fire department warns drivers to expect delays along the following routes:

1) Minnieville Rd. and Prince William Parkway

2) Minnieville Rd. and Old Bridge Rd.

3) Old Bridge Rd. and Gordon Blvd.

4) Ox Rd. and Braddock Rd.

5) Braddock Rd. and Burke Station Rd.

 

Sara Jones, of Woodbridge, Killed in Crash

FATAL CRASH 

 UPDATE Friday 2 p.m. 

The driver of the Kia, Sara M. Jones, 29, of Woodbridge, Va., died at the scene.

UPDATE

At 11:27 a.m. Thursday (Sept. 6), Virginia State Police Trooper J.A. Adams was called to the scene of a two-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 at the 163 mile marker.

According to witnesses, a Kia was merging into the southbound lanes of I-95 from Lorton Road when it pulled into the path of a southbound tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer swerved to the left in an attempt to avoid the merging passenger car. But the two vehicles still collided and ran off the right side of the road. The Kia came to rest at the edge of the right shoulder. The tractor-trailer went down an embankment and jackknifed.

The female driver of the Kia died at the scene. State police are still in the process of locating and notifying her next of kin.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 49-year-old Chesterfield, Va., man, was transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. He was wearing a seat belt. The tractor-trailer was loaded with 20,000 pounds of carpet.

The Virginia State Police Fairfax Division Crash Reconstruction Team is assisting with the investigation into the cause of the crash.

As of 3:27 p.m., all southbound lanes were re-opened to through traffic.

-Virginia State Police 

ORIGINAL POST 12:45 p.m.

LORTON, Va. – Police are on the scene of the fatal crash on Interstate 95 in Lorton.

The crash happened about 11:30 a.m. near mile post 163 in Fairfax County.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the crash involves a tractor trailer and a smaller automobile.

We’ll bring you more on this as we get it.

 

New Commuter Lot Opens

A new commuter lot on Telegraph Road in Woodbridge is scheduled to open next month. (Laura Cirillo/PotomacLocal.com)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – A new commuter lot on Telegraph Road in Woodbridge opened today with little fanfare and few commuters.

Prince William County transportation officials that built the new lot said they will install new signs to direct drivers to the new lot.

“I’m surprised nobody used it but, as we have learned, commuting patterns change very slowly,” said Prince William Transportation Department Director Thomas Blaser in an email.

The $2.4 million lot has 700 new parking spaces and was designed to provide commuter relief for the Horner Road Commuter lot, which is already the largest commuter lot in the state with 2,300 commuter parking spaces.

The Horner Road lot is also popular with carpoolers and transit bus riders. The new Telegraph Road lot sits near the intersection of Telegraph and Caton Hill roads, near Interstate 95.

Va. Rest Stops Now Geico ‘Safe Phone Zones’

Did you travel Virginia’s interstate highways this weekend and notice a green gecko staring back at you? The Geico insurance company, known for its gecko advertising pitchman, has sponsored the state’s 43 rest areas. Signs with the reptile’s face have been placed along the roadside near the stops guiding them to rest stops, noting them as safe places to use your cell phones.

The sponsorship will help defray some of the operating costs associated with the rest stops, and it is the first time state rest stops in Virginia have been sponsored. It also comes after the 2010 reopening of many of the rest stops which had been closed during the previous year to save $9 million.

“My administration has moved aggressively to find innovative solutions for maintaining and operating Virginia’s rest areas and welcome centers, which provide a safe place for travelers to rest and gather information about the many attractions and services Virginia has to offer,” said Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell. “By partnering with the private sector, we are not only keeping our rest areas open, but we are making our roads safer by discouraging distracted driving.”

McDonnell announced in March 2011 that he wanted to secure sponsors for the rest stops.

“A three-year contract was awarded to CRH Catering Co., Inc. based in Connellsville, Pa., (with locations in Richmond and Norfolk) to develop and manage a new program to generate additional revenues that will help offset operating costs of the commonwealth’s rest areas and welcome centers, which total approximately $21 million annually. The contract requires CRH to pay VDOT approximately $2 million annually in revenue generated by the ongoing vending program and the new GEICO sponsorship,” a press release stated.

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