Traffic & Transit

HOV Closures Continue Tonight

Photo: Mary Davidson

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Traveling Interstate 95 in our area tonight? Watch out for more closures on the HOV lanes from Dumfries to Washington.

Starting at 11 p.m., the HOV lanes will close until 10 a.m. Saturday, when the lanes will reopen at the Franconia-Springfield Parkway for drivers headed south into Prince William County. The northern section of the lanes from Springfield to Washington will stay closed until 5 p.m. that afternoon, when the lanes will reopened in their entirety in the northbound direction, according to a press release from the Virginia Megaprojects office.

Traveling on I-395 between the Capital Beltway and Seminary Road in Alexandria? One left lane of that portion of highway will also close at 11 o’clock tonight and reopen at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

All of these closures will allow crews working on the 95 Express Lanes Project to install new signage, and perform work on drainage, grading, and barriers along the project corridor which extends from North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria.

Transportation officials urge drivers to expect delays and find alternate routes if possible.


Dense Fog Advisory Expires at 10 a.m.

The region is under a dense fog advisory from the National Weather Service.

Until 10 a.m., visibilities are expected to stay at a quarter a mile or less.

Traffic on area highways like Interstate 95 and 66 were moving without incident about 6:45 a.m. Thursday. The weather service still urged drivers to slow down in the face of dense fog to prevent accidents.

The sun has been absent from our area for most of the week. Thunderstorms are once again possible for today, but warmer temperatures near 80 degrees are on the way today.


$1.5 Million Awarded in Minnieville Road Widening Effort

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — A portion of Minnieville Road in Prince William County is one step closer to becoming wider.

County leaders approved a measure to give $1.5 million to Rinker Design Associates to provide plans widen a two-lane portion of the road between Va. 234 and Spriggs Road to four lanes. With the majority of the road – which connects Va. 234 and Old Bridge Road in Lake Ridge – already four lanes, this is the last portion of the roadway that is set for widening.

A series of proposals from various companies was considered by a selection committee that ultimately chose Rinker to perform the engineering services, according to county documents.

The road widening project was approved by voters in 2007. The portion of Minnieville Road that is being widened lies within the Potomac and Coles magisterial districts.


Crashed Trash Truck Makes Stinky Traffic Situation

A trash truck ran off the westbound side of Va. 610 in Stafford County on Tuesday. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — A trash truck ran off the side of Va. 610 in Stafford County on Tuesday evening.

The crash involved only the truck and happened just before the Fauquier County line.

No one was injured in the incident the closed one lane of westbound traffic on Va. 610 about 6 p.m. The truck was operated by American Disposal of Manassas.

Traffic delays in the area of the crash were minor. 


Crash Closes Portion of I-95 South in Prince William

DALE CITY, Va. — All lanes of Interstate 95 south were closed just before 2 p.m. Tuesday after a multi-vehicle crash near Dale Boulevard.

The crash happened at mile post 156, and the southbound travel lanes and HOV lanes were both closed by police as emergency crews responded to the crash.

Delays began for drivers headed south just before Dale Boulevard at Dale City.

Initial reports indicate at least 10 cars were involved in the crash.


Woodbridge Bike & Pedestrian Trail System More Than Halfway Funded

A mother leads her daughter across four lanes of traffic on a busy U.S. 1 in at Featherstone Square in Woodbridge. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]


WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Afternoon rush hours here are loud, busy, and full of both pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles. And if you’re not behind the wheel of a car, U.S. 1 in Woodbridge is not a very friendly place to be, despite portions of the road having sidewalks, several bus stops, homes, and shopping centers.

On Friday afternoon, several pedestrians could be seen schlepping backpacks, shopping bags, and pushing strollers with small children in them, all of them dodging traffic to get across the busy four-lane highway at Featherstone Plaza. Along this stretch of road over the past five years, 17 pedestrians have been killed – many of them right here at Featherstone Plaza. Another trouble spot in Woodbridge is the area around Marumsco Plaza, where many residents cross the highway to shop for groceries and other items.

“We typically see most of the pedestrian accidents where we have a high concentration of homes that meets retail shopping areas,” said Prince William Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank J. Principi.

He’s been working for the past five years to improve the U.S. 1 corridor with not only helping to greenlight roadway improvements — including work that’s about to begin to widen portions of the highway from four to six lanes from Neabsco Creek to Featherstone Road and from Mary’s Way to the Occoquan River — but to also build a new network of pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and trails.

It’s been dubbed Woodbridge’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Network, a project Princpi has often called “fixing Woodbridge’s sidewalks to nowhere.” Of the 34 sidewalk and trail projects that have been identified as needed improvements at an estimated cost of $25 million, 22 of them now have a dedicated funding source that totals $17.5 million, Principi announced Friday afternoon.

The top five projects include:

— U.S.1 at Powell’s Creek Bridge – $710,000

— Dale Boulevard from Neabsco Mills Road, across U.S. 1 and along Rippon Boulevard – $1.8 million

— Opitz Boulevard from WaWa to Neabsco Mills Road $1.5 million

— Blackburn Road from Rippon Boulevard to the Cow Branch Bridge – $500,000

— Blackburn Road from Reddy Drive to Featherstone Road – $600,000

Overall, the new network of sidwalks and trails when depicted on a map resembles something like a network of roadways, but these paths will allow those on foot or bike to travel alongside major throughfares. Smaller spoke routes depicted on the map branch further into neighborhoods like Belmont Bay, Featherstone Shores, Harbors of Newport, North Woodbridge, and River Oaks.


For Henry Hiltpold who used to live in Washington and now rides his motorized scooter to a bus stop and relies on OmniLink for a ride around town, a more pedestrian-friendly network sounds appealing.

“The sidewalks are narrow, and it would be easier for me if traffic would move along here slower than it already does, but I don’t guess that is going to happen,” said Hiltpold, referring to the hustle and bustle of U.S. 1 when it’s not congested with morning or afternoon commuters.

The pedestrian network announcement comes as the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments launched their “Street Smart” campaign. Principi, who serves on the MCOG Board, drew the Street Smart campaign to Woodbridge on Friday to highlight the dangers both pedestrians and bicyclists face.

Last year in the Washington area there were more 3,000 crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Of those, 70 of them were fatal. In Prince William there were fatal crashes involving bicyclists or pedestrians, according to Street Smart statistics.

Picture 1 of 4

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi and resident Carleen Atkinson watch as pedestrians run across a busy U.S. 1 in Woodbridge [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

1 Seriously Injured in I-95 Crash that Caused Highway Closure, 8-Mile Delay

One person was flown to a hospital with life-threatening injuries following a crash on Interstate 95 in Dale City. The highway was closed for about an hour while rescue crews treated the patients on the scene. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

DALE CITY, Va. — One person was flown to a hospital for treatment after being involved in a crash on Interstate 95.

The crash closed all northbound lanes of the highway just after 3 p.m. at Dale City, resulting in a backup for more than eight miles delaying traffic as far south as Stafford County.

Of the two unidentified victims, one was flown to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, and the other was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, said Dale City Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Steve Chappell.

Virginia State Police are investigating the incident. Volunteer fire and rescue units from Dale City, Woodbridge, and Dumfries-Triangle were called to the scene.

The highway was reopened to traffic shortly after a helicopter lifted off the ground to take the patient to a hospital. The conditions of the patients have not been released.

Some drivers reported being stuck in Saturday afternoon’s back up on I-95 for more than two hours.


HOV Work to Bring Weekend Delays on I-95 / 395

DUMFRIES, Va. — The HOV lanes on Interstate 95/395 from Va. 234 in Dumfries to Washington, D.C. will close at 11 p.m. Friday. The lanes will remain closed until 10 a.m. Saturday, when crews will reopen the lanes in the southbound direction, from the Springfield Interchange to Dumfries.

A spokeswoman from the Virginia’s Department of Transportation’s Megaprojects office said the northern section of the lanes will remain closed until 10 a.m. Sunday, when the entire system will reopen to carry traffic in the northbound direction.

Additionally, one left lane of I-395 will be shut down in the southbound direction between Seminary Road and I-495 from 11 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday and then again from 9 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday.

Crews working on the 95 Express Lanes Project will be conducting work on sign structures, drainage, and foundation work, according to VDOT. Drivers are told to expect longer than normal travel times and delays this weekend along the I-95/395 corridor.

VDOT states signage is posted along the highway to let drivers and travelers know about the lane closures and ongoing work.


Prince William Students on Buses Involved in I-95 Crash

Photo: Mary Davidson

DUMFRIES, Va. – Students from Mary Williams Elementary School aboard charter buses headed back to the school this afternoon were involved in a crash on Interstate 95 south of Fredericksburg, according to Prince William schools officials.

No students were injured, but one parent on the bus was taken to a hospital with an arm injury.

Parents are asked to pick up their students at the school about 4:50 p.m. when the buses are expected to return to the school.

The buses were involved in a chain-reaction crash on I-95, and were headed back from the Richmond Science Center, said schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer.

Virginia Department of Transportation officials reported a crash at mile post 119 on the northbound lanes of the highway just before 3 p.m. It’s not clear if this is the same crash the buses were involved in.

More as we have it.

3 Crashes Snarl Traffic, Motorcyclist Left Seriously Injured


The victim in an early morning crash on Interstate 95 remains unidentified this lunchtime as police try to reach his family.

The crash happened at 5:45 a.m. on the northbound lanes of I-95 at mile post 148 at Quantico in Stafford County, where a 2007 Chrysler station wagon failed to stop in time and rear-ended and a 2012 Honda that has stopped for congested traffic.

Then, a 2009 Harley-Davidson motorcycle rear-ended the station wagon, and the impact caused the cyclist to slide into another car, and was thrown from the bike in the opposite direction where he collided with a tractor-trailer, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Then, to avoid the motorcyclist, three cars collided in the northbound lanes causing a third crash, said Geller.

The only person injured was the motorcyclist, who was flown to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Sandra T. Wilson, 47, of Ruther Glen, was the driver of the station wagon and was charged with following too closely, said Geller.

The lanes were reopened to traffic by 7 a.m.

7 a.m. 

QUANTICO, Va. — All lanes of Interstate 95 are reopened at mile post 148 at Quantico following a multi-vehicle crash this morning.

Police said the crash happened at 5:45 a.m. on the northbound lanes of the highway. A medical helicopter was called to fly one victim suffering life threatening injuries to a hospital. All of the northbound lanes were closed following the crash.

No details on what caused the crash, or who was involved have been released by police. Drivers should expect delays on I-95 this morning.

This incident follows a fatal crash on Tuesday that took the life of a Dumfries man riding his motorcycle. In that crash, the motorcyclist crashed and then was struck by a tractor-trailer. The driver of the truck did not stop and police asked anyone who many have more information about the truck to come forward.


Prince William Elected Leaders Voice Opposition to Beltway Bypass

022112 sign removal




PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Elected leaders Monday said a plan to build a new highway threatens Prince William’s coveted Rural Crescent.

Known officially at the “North-South corridor,” it’s also been dubbed the Tri-County Parkway, and by some as an Outer Beltway or Capital Beltway Bypass. Whatever you call it, Virginia Senator Richard H. “Dick” Black, Delegate Tim Hugo, and Prince William Gainesville District Supervisor Pete Candland say they don’t like the road project. They called it a “billion dollar road” that’s “ill-conceived,” and said it would only benefit cargo traffic headed in and out of Dulles International Airport.

Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland.

Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland.

Officially, there is no official cost estimate for the road, but some have suggested early estimates of $1.2 billion. The proposed highway’s path lies between Dumfries and Dulles Airport. If built, Va. 234 would be converted to a limited-access highway, and a combination of newly constructed lanes and the conversion of smaller roads between Manassas and Loudoun County would provide a direct connection between Interstate 95 and Dulles.

But landowners say the highway will mean the loss of local streets, and officials point out an agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation that will allow for the closure of portions of U.S. 29 and Va. 234 Business that currently run inside Manassas National Battlefield Park before a long talked about Battlefield Bypass is built.

“If the North-South corridor is built, resulting the closure of Route 29, commuters in Fairfax, Prince William and Fauquier counties will be sitting on I-66, missing their children’s events, missing dinners, and watching their quality of life deteriorate,” said Delegate Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax, Prince William, who called his opposition to the highway the “new Battle of Manassas.”

State transportation officials named the North-South route a primary transportation priority in the state, one of 12 “corridors of statewide significance” outlined by VDOT. At number 12, it was added to a list of 11 other priority corridors shortly after 2010 that include all major interstates in Virginia, U.S. routes 460, 17 and 13 on the Eastern Shore. The planned highway’s reemergence (plans for the highway were tossed aside years ago as it was deemed then as unnecessary) took many by surprise, and the roadway has been dubbed the “zombie road.”

The highway was the focus of debate last Thursday night in Manassas, where supporters of the highway said it’s needed to spur economic growth in the region and throughout the state. Opponents on Thursday said the highway would hurt property values and do little for job growth in Prince William County.

Peter Candland on Monday said he “stands shoulder to shoulder” with Hugo.

“My concern is that we have not seen sufficient economic forecasting that is needed to determine if the [Tri-County Parkway] is the best transportation solution to speed access to and from Dulles Airport, or that it will create high-paying jobs here in Prince William County,” said Candland.

The proposed highway comes as taxpayers are already on the hook for the heavy rail extension of Washington’s Metro system to Dulles International Airport at a cost of nearly $6 billion. Toll on the Dulles Toll Road, which takes drivers from I-66 directly to the airport, were also raised in order to finance the new subway line.

But the proposed highway could also have a toll on Prince William County’s Rural Crescent – a tract of land that, on a map resembles a crescent, was protected by county leaders in 1998 as a haven for farmland and agriculture. Challenges to the land use come almost yearly from churches that want to connect to sewer water and golf courses that want to build on the land.

“…This road will destroy the Rural Crescent, land that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors has pledged to protect; will take property from over 100 land owners just in the Gainesville District, and will siphon monies away from critical transportation needs such as I-66,” said Hugo.

Many of the most vocal landowners opposed to the project live on Pageland Lane in Prince William County. According to project documents, if the highway is built, a portion of the rural street could be closed to traffic to accommodate the Capital Beltway Bypass. Many of them, after making their voices heard Thursday night, have taken to social media and Facebook, creating a “Say No to the Tri-County Parkway” group.

Dumfries Man Killed in Fatal Crash, Tractor-Trailer Flees Scene

Photo: Mary Davidson

Update 11:30 a.m. 

A man from Dumfries was killed this morning after he lost control of his motorcycle, and now police hope witnesses will provide information on the tractor-trailer that struck him.

Timothy E. Halpin, 68, was killed this morning when he lost control of his motorcycle, a 2001 BMW 1200, while traveling on the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 near Lorton. Halpin’s bike crashed and slid into the left shoulder of the roadway, but Halpin slid into to the center travel lane and was struck by a tractor-trailer, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Halpin died at the scene, but the tractor-trailer failed to stop, and witnesses were not able to provide enough information to police for them to be able to locate the truck.

Anyone with information on the tractor-trailer is asked to call Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026.

7 a.m.  

A motorcyclist was killed this morning in a crash involving a tractor trailer, and traffic is severely delayed on Interstate 95 in Prince William County.

The crash happened on the northbound lanes just after 5:30 a.m. at mile post 165 in Fairfax County, just past the exit for Lorton. All of the lanes were reopened to traffic at 6:45 a.m. and had been closed for the investigation, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

The victim in the crash has not been identified, and we don’t what led to the crash.

Delays on I-95 extend from the crash scene in Fairfax County to near Dumfries. U.S. 1, which runs parallel to I-95, is also experiencing massive delays this morning ad drivers use it as a bail out route.

More on the crash as we have it.


Coal Train Derails in Stafford County, Closes Caisson Road

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A coal train derailed on a secondary track in Stafford County about 3 p.m.

Fire and rescue spokesman Mark Doyle said no one was injured, and added the train was traveling on a secondary track and the derailment would not impact service on either Virginia Railway Express commuter trains or Amtrak.

A portion of Caisson Road where it crosses railroad tracks, near Ferry Farm, is expected to to be closed through tomorrow morning for clean up. It’s not yet clear what caused the derailment, but we’re told an investigation is underway.

More as we have it.

Outer Beltway Through Prince William Debated



MANASSAS, Va. — Supporters and opponents of an outer beltway in Prince William County spoke out last night. At times, it seemed whoever spoke loudest appeared to win the debate.

The controversial road aims to convert Va. 234 between Interstate 95 in Dumfries and I-66 in Manassas into a limited access highway and then extend it to Dulles International Airport.

Once known as the outer beltway, officials now call it the North-South Corridor. But some who live in Prince William’s Gainesville District near Manassas Battlefield National Park and on Pageland Lane where roads will be closed to accommodate the new highway, say it’s a bad idea.

About 30 people who sat in the audience at Thursday night’s meeting of the Prince William Committee of 100, which met at a hotel near where this road would be built, cited traffic concerns, increased noise and a loss of a serene countryside synonymous with the U.S. Civil War.

But the area is expected to grow by 55 percent, employment to rise by 74 percent, and daily trips made by vehicles are excepted to rise a whooping 123 percent, all by 2035.

Bob Chase, with the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, said the outer beltway already has support from local leaders, and will have the least impact possible on nearby neighborhoods, parks and flood plains when it’s built.

But it could take anywhere between 10 and 15 years to for construction to begin and, like other proposed road projects, there’s no money in the budget for it.

“Prince William residents waste more time in traffic than the average U.S. resident,” said Chase. “The way to attract new jobs is to build new roads for better connectivity.”

Supporters said the new road would help Manassas Regional Airport attract new private jets to the region and spur a life sciences center at George Mason University’s Prince William campus.

Chase went on to say the new road would help protect Manassas Battlefield, and then some members of the audience groaned. The battlefield, and the National Park Service that manages it, will play a large roll in the construction of the new road. They have agreed to close a portion of Va. 234 that splits the park between the campus of Northern Virginia Community College and Featherbed Lane.

Va. 234, along with U.S 29, bisects the battlefield. In exchange for the road closure, the outer beltway will be built over a small portion of the park. A resolution passed by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board has Va. 234 being closed prior to the construction of another long talked about but unfunded road – the battlefield bypass. That, said Cary Garczynski who sits on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, as well as many residents opposed to the highway who spoke last night, goes against an original agreement signed in 1988 stating that Va. 234 cannot be closed until a battlefield bypass is built.

The North-South Corridor is one of 12 “corridors of statewide significance” where state transportation officials make funding, upkeep and construction a priority. An outer beltway is nothing new, as many who spoke last night said this road was talked about 20 years ago, but the idea was tossed out. Today, opponents said it’s a “zombie” road that’s come back to life that will help transport workers to Dulles Airport and freight and goods form the international hub through their backyards, but will do little to bring new jobs to Prince William.

“We’re a colony in Prince William, and it’s not in Prince William’s best interest to export workers out of the colony to work in other places,” said Charlie Grymes, head of the Prince William Conservation Alliance.

Grymes balked at an estimated $1.2 billion price tag for the outer beltway and said there were other transportation projects that should be funded, like widening I-66, expanding the Virginia Railway Express and building a proposed light rail system from Manassas to Dulles.

Garzynski disputed the estimated price tag and said no costs have been finalized. He added that there is no cash on hand to design the road even after officials decide to move forward. A public hearing on the matter, complete with a public question-and-answer session with officials, will be scheduled for June.

HOV Lanes Closings as Work Continues in Pr. Wm., Stafford

Virginia Megaprojects 

At 11 p.m. Friday, April 26, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will close the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on Interstate 395/95 from the Washington D.C. line to the end in Dumfries (Route 234) until 10 a.m. Saturday, April 27 when the HOV lanes will re-open from the Springfield interchange to Dumfries.

The HOV northern section between Washington and Springfield will remain closed until 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28, when the entire HOV system opens northbound.

Additionally, VDOT will close one left-lane on I-395 south between Seminary Road and the Capital Beltway (I-495) at 11 p.m. Friday night, April 26 to 9 a.m. Saturday morning, April 27 and again on Saturday night from 9 p.m. until 10 a.m. Sunday morning. April 28.

These closures will allow crews to drill foundations for sign structures, drainage work along with grading, and barrier work as a part of the 95 Express Lanes Project. Motorists can expect slower travel along the corridor and should add an additional 15 minutes to their trip. VDOT advises motorists to plan for night and weekend construction work throughout the summer and fall months along the 29-mile 95 Express Lanes construction work area. Signs and message boards are posted along the corridor to inform motorists of construction activities. Police will be onsite for motorist’s safety.

On the local scale, work continues in the Prince William County area as well. In the next couple of weeks, motorists will see work at Joplin Road, as crews set the bridge foundation and the piers to support the future 95 Express Lanes ramp to the general purpose lanes of I-95 and Joplin Road. Girders to support the lanes over I-95 will be set in the May or June time frame, so motorists on I-95 South can expect to see lane closures at that time.

At Telegraph Road in Stafford County, crews will be pile driving for the rest of this month and into May as well. Telegraph Road is scheduled to reopen next winter.

Seminar to Explore Commuting Programs for Prince William Businesses

OmniRide bus operator Phill Robinson is one of many PRTC drivers who ferry riders to and from their destinations.

News from Content Partner PRTC 

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) is holding a free business seminar and luncheon for employers in Prince William County on April 24, 2013. The seminar — entitled “Financing Commuting Programs with Federal Tax Benefits and Other Incentives” — is being offered as part of PRTC’s Omni SmartCommute Program. George Mason University is hosting the event at its Prince William Campus in Manassas.

“Many Prince William County employers may be unaware of the programs that are available to save their employees money on their commute when they use transit, carpools or vanpools,” said Al Harf, PRTC Executive Director. “Federal tax benefits have been increased recently so that employees who use transit services or vanpool to work can save up to $1,000 or more annually on their commute and employers save on payroll taxes too. We have put together a program that will help employers learn how to take advantage of these easy-to-use programs.”

The seminar will feature a keynote address by Marty Nohe, Chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and PRTC board member. The seminar will include expert panels on federal tax benefits, and vanpool, carpool, bicycling and telework incentive programs. Local employers will talk about their benefit programs. A networking event will follow the half-day event.

PRTC’s Omni SmartCommute Program provides free assistance to local employers and their employees to help ease the stress and cost of commuting while helping to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. Omni SmartCommute offers help with using transit, forming carpools, starting a vanpool program and telework, among other commute alternatives.

For more information on the seminar and to register, contact Avram Ramage at or call 703-468-4675. Registrations received by April 19, 2013 will be entered into a drawing for a $75 VISA gift card.

Poor Pay More to Fund Roads, Report Says

Traffic headed south on U.S. 1 toward the Falmouth intersection frequently backs up due to a traffic signal where U.S. 1, U.S. 17, and Va. 218 converge. (Photo: Jim Lawrence/For

Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia’s multibillion-dollar transportation funding package will put a heavier burden on lower-income households than on more affluent families, according to a Richmond-based think tank.

“The tax increases in the package would require low- and moderate-income Virginians to pay a bigger share of their earnings for transportation than wealthier households,” the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis said in a recent analysis of House Bill 2313.

The General Assembly passed the legislation this year to create a long-term source of revenue for road construction and maintenance and mass transit.

The plan, which Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law this month, raises the state sales tax from 4 percent to 4.3 percent. At the same time, it eliminates Virginia’s 17.5-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax, which McDonnell notes has been producing less revenue because of more fuel-efficient cars. The plan also imposes a 3.5 percent tax on the wholesale price of fuel.

The Commonwealth Institute, which describes itself as a nonpartisan group especially concerned about low- and middle-income Virginians, said the tax overhaul will hit lower-income Virginians the hardest.

“On average, a median-income household in Virginia, earning about $51,000 annually, will pay roughly $80 more a year – around 0.2 percent of its income – in the new taxes included in the transportation package,” the report said.

“Households in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution (earning less than $21,000) will pay between three and six times more of their income than the top one percent of households (earning at least $509,000).”

Suppose, for example, that a family scraping by on $15,000 a year pays an additional $60 in sales tax; that would represent 0.4 percent of its income. In contrast, if a household earning $500,000 a year pays an additional $500 in sales tax, that’s just 0.1 percent of its income.

The Commonwealth Institute cites another factor why Virginia’s poorer households bear a heavier burden when sales taxes rise: “Low-income families also spend most or all of their earnings on goods subject to the higher taxes.”

Besides the increase in the statewide sales tax, residents of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will face an additional sales tax of 0.7 percent to fund transportation and transit projects in those areas. The regional taxes will generate about $1.5 billion for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Fund and $1 billion for the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.

According to the Commonwealth Institute, low-income households in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will pay a portion of their income that is up to eight times more than the portion paid by the richest 1 percent of households.

“The legislation includes no measures to make the funding responsibility more equitable,” the report said. It suggested that Virginia use tax refunds or rebates to offset the impact of higher sales taxes on low-income families.

The institute also criticized the transportation funding plan because “it shifts the cost of paying for highway improvements and routine maintenance away from drivers, who benefit the most from better roads. Less than 10 percent of the package resources come from driving-related revenues.”

Even so, car owners will feel some impact from the transportation funding law. It raises the sales tax on motor vehicles from 3 percent to 4.3 percent over the next four years. And the annual registration fee for hybrid, electric and alternative fuel vehicles will increase from $50 to $64.

When a bipartisan majority of legislators passed the transportation bill, they acknowledged that it was a difficult compromise.

“This transportation bill isn’t perfect, but it will fund the construction and maintenance we need to reduce gridlock, grow our economy and improve Virginians’ quality of life,” Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria, who chairs the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a recent press release.

A fellow Democrat, Delegate Vivian Watts of Fairfax, agreed.

“It is an important step in moving Virginia forward. Virginians have waited too long for a long-term transportation funding plan, but now we have a plan that provides much needed revenue to fix and build Virginia’s transportation infrastructure,” said Watts, a former state transportation secretary.

Besides providing money for roads, the new law also will create nearly 40,000 construction jobs, proponents say. Moreover, it will make Virginia the first state with a dedicated revenue source for intercity passenger rail.

“Without this bill, Virginia was at risk of losing nearly 60 percent of its intercity passenger rail service,” said Danny Plaugher, executive director of Virginians for High Speed Rail. “Now the commonwealth is at the forefront in advancing a true multi-modal solution to easing congestion on our roadways and runways.”

Still, the concerns raised by the Commonwealth Institute resonate with many Virginians.

Lauren Arcudi, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University from Reston, said she is relieved to see efforts to improve the transportation system especially in congested areas like Northern Virginia.

But she added, “The sales tax increase is definitely going to affect me because I am a student and I don’t make much money.”

Arcudi said the tax burden for the transportation program should be distributed more fairly. “The fact that bothers me the most is that the people with the less money have to pay more,” she said.

Overturned Vehicle on Joplin Road Leaves 1 Hospitalized

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Prince William police said one person is being flown to a hospital after their car overturned on Joplin Road.

The crash was reported just after 2 p.m. at mile post 17 on the two-lane road that connects Quantico with Independent Hill in Prince William County.

The extent of the driver’s injuries were unknown, police said.

Updated: Man Walks in Front of Truck, Dies



Police said the victim in this afternoon’s fatal crash on I-95 in Stafford County walked right in front of a tractor trailer.

More in an updated press release:

At 1:11 p.m., Virginia State Police were called to the 146 mile marker in the southbound lanes of I-95 in Stafford County on Thursday (April 18, 2013). A southbound 2007 Ford Focus pulled off onto the right shoulder of I-95 and parked. According to numerous witnesses, the driver of the Ford Focus stepped out of his vehicle and directly into the path of a southbound tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer was not able to avoid striking the man. The adult male subject died at the scene.

State police are still in the process of notifying the man’s next of kin.

The tractor-trailer driver was not injured in the crash.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, Stafford County Fire & Rescue, Quantico Fire & Rescue, and VDOT assisted state police with traffic control and detours. The southbound lanes were reopened to through traffic shortly after 3 p.m.

3 p.m. 

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – One person is dead after crash on Interstate 95 this afternoon.

As of 3 p.m., all lanes of I-95 south in Stafford County were closed.

More in a press release from Virginia State Police:

At 1:11 p.m., Virginia State Police were called to the southbound lanes of I-95 at the 146 mile marker in Stafford County for a vehicle crash. There is one confirmed fatality.

 Motorists are advised to seek alternate travel plans as two southbound lanes are closed at this time. Southbound traffic is being detoured off I-95 at Exit 148 at Quantico Marine Corps Base. Motorists are to expect delays. State police are working to clear the scene and re-open the lanes to through traffic.

The Virginia Department of Transportation reports the lanes should be reopened by 3:30 p.m. 

An aerial image of the crash posted to Twitter from @NewsChopperBrad

An aerial image of the crash posted to Twitter from @NewsChopperBrad

Traffic is backed up for at least eight miles as a result of the crash. Delays on I-95 south begin at in North Stafford and extend back to Prince William Parkway.

To ease delays, planned lane closures for the 95 Express Lanes Project between Va. 234 and Joplin Road were cleared.

This is the second accident on I-95 south near Quantico in as many days. On Wednesday, one person had be pulled from an overturned car that collide with another vehicle near the 148 mile marker.


Mega Mike: New Website Shows Drivers How to Get Around

Virginia Megaprojects 

As the 95 Express Lanes Project construction increases this summer, travelling on I-95 and on 395 from the Beltway towards Duke Street may be challenging. To deal with the impacts, consider carpooling, vanpooling or using transit. The folks at Megaprojects are aware of the challenges that come with a large project like the 95 Express Lanes, so they’ve come up with– a new website for commuters in Northern Virginia that looking for alternatives to I-95. is a one-stop shop for commuters offering different transit options that are available to get just about anywhere in Northern Virginia. Options are available for a variety of situations, whether it’s a difficult schedule, an attempt to keep expenses down or someone seeking an environmentally friendly commute. has links to:

• Bus

• Commuter Rail (click to learn about the new step-up fare between VRE and Amtrak)

• Park-and-ride lots (click for a map of lots in PW Co.)

• Ride sharing

• Bicycling

• Reward systems

• Employers Solutions

• Military Solutions

• Additional Regional services

Although this stand-alone site resembles the Virginia Megaprojects website, has a separate photo gallery and ticker bar for current transit focused news.

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