WE ARE LOCAL News in Prince William, Virginia



Traffic & Transit

$5.2M VDOT safety improvement project begins in Stafford

Starting this month, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will begin construction on a $5.2 million dollar project that will provide pavement and safety improvements along Route 218.

The construction will take place on a 20-mile stretch of Route 218, and will include King George and Stafford counties.

The route has fairly high traffic volume, with about 5,000 vehicles driving on it every day, said VDOT.

VDOT stated that drivers in the area may see some increased congestion, as Route 218 will be reduced to only one lane from Mondays through Fridays – between dawn and dusk.

There will be no lane closures west of Route 301 during peak travel times, to prevent severe congestion, said a VDOT release.

According to a VDOT release, some of the cost for the project was paid for using federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funding – money used to reduce highway crashes. 

As part of the project, VDOT stated that they would be constructing new pavement markings, upgraded and new guardrails, sign upgrades, tree removal, and minor shoulder widening. 

The company in charge of constructing the road improvements is Superior Paving, based out of Gainesville.

Construction is slated for completion in December 2015.


Crash witness: ‘I thought he was gonna hit me’

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An overturned car on Prince William Parkway caught the eye of drivers Tuesday.

Especially Buddy Baker, of Woodbridge, who was sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire and witnessed the crash. Baker said a coupe was traveling on Prince William Parkway in the direction of Woodbridge, in an S curve at the intersection of Scenic Point Drive, when it crashed into a road sign and overturned in the median.

“I thought we was gonna hit me,” said Baker.

After the crash, Baker ran toward the crashed car. Other drivers stopped to help, said Baker.

The driver of the car crawled out and immediately picked up his cell phone.

“We all asked him if he was OK and if there was anything we could do and he kept saying ‘I’m alright, I’m alright,” said Baker.

Police and fire and rescue crews were at the crash scene about noon. Drivers slowed to see the spectacle of the demolished car that crashed in wet, slippery conditions.

Baker said he saw rescue crews bandage the driver’s arm. The man who Baker identified as the driver was walking around and appeared to be speaking with crash investigators.

Baker was headed to Manassas from Woodbridge when his Honda Civic popped it’s back rear tire. He called a roadside assistance car that came to help him across from the crash scene.

Lane closures to increase at Rt. 1, Rt 17. intersection in Stafford

Residents should expect to see increased lane closures in the coming months at the intersection of Route 1, Route 17 Business and Route 218 in Stafford’s Falmouth district.

The closures are a part of the $22.1 million dollar construction project being completed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), according to a VDOT release.

Construction on the intersection began back in March 2014 as part of an improvement project. Tavares Concrete, Inc is completing the project.

Currently, construction on the project is at 50% completion. The project includes building new turn lanes and travel lanes, as well as sidewalks, which will be open for use in September 2015, said a VDOT release.

According to a VDOT release, the purpose of the project is to unclog the intersection, as it is an important alternate route for Interstate 95, and local passage between Stafford County and the City of Fredericksburg.

 “We appreciate the cooperation and patience of drivers over the past year during the demolition, utility relocation, and early construction work. We look forward to wrapping up construction over the next six months to deliver this project in September,” said Michael Coffey, P.E., VDOT’s Assistant District Administrator for Construction, Fredericksburg District in a release. 

Residents should expect single lane closures near the intersection most evenings, Sunday through Thursday. VDOT stated that they will avoid lane closures during peak traffic times including rush hour on weekdays, Friday nights, and weekend days.

Commuters from Washington D.C. may experience delays due to outage

At 1 p.m., several buildings in the Washington D.C. area went dark due to a power outage.

The outages caused afternoon delays for several commuters, and the residual effects from the outage may make it difficult for Prince William, Manassas, and Stafford residents to get home this evening.

In a statement made by Pepco, the power company responsible for the outage, it occurred due to an issue with a transmission line.

“There was never a loss of permanent electric supply but the dip in voltage caused equipment at some facilities to transfer to their backup systems. We are currently working to repair the transmission equipment fault in Charles County, Maryland,” said Pepco in a release. 


According to a media spokesperson for the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), while all stations are running trains on schedule right now, 13 stations are currently only running on back-up power.

“It’s not closing any stations – it’s not disrupting our transit operations. Trains are running normally. We have several stations – about 13 – that are running on back up power. So what [commuters] will notice is the [stations] will be a bit dimmer, as not all of the lights are on,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also stated that some of the escalators and elevators were not working at the metro stations.


According to Christine Rodrigo, PR specialist for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), there was an assessment of bus services made, but there are no anticipated service delays at this time.


The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) experienced delays earlier this afternoon, but according to Bryan Jungwirth, Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations for the VRE, stated that all late afternoon and evening trains should be running on schedule.

“There was about a 45-minute outage…it did cause our two early afternoon trains to run about 20 and 30 minutes late. But everything is good for this afternoon – the power has been restored. There shouldn’t be any effect on our train services this afternoon,” Jungwirth said.

The original VRE delays occurred when Union Station lost power and signals, which caused the 301 train to be 30 minutes late, and the 325 train to be 10 minutes late.

Potomac Local will keep you up to date on the latest information about the impact on commuting out of Washington D.C.


Driver collides with guardrail on Prince William Parkway

Emergency crews work to repair a damaged guardrail on Prince William Parkway.
A car collided with a guardrail on Prince William Parkway and then drove into a median.

Emergency crews were called to assist a driver that collided with a guardrail.

These photos were sent in to us from a Manassas Local reader who happened to be in the area of the crash, near the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Interstate 66.

The witness told Manassas Local a driver exiting I-66 onto Prince William Parkway east collided with the railing and then drove into the median of the Prince William Parkway.

Rainy conditions have prevailed for much of the day and roads are slippery out there.

Send us photos when you see news happen.

Here’s how the Bi-County Parkway could still happen

Highway would link Prince William, Loudoun counties  

You may count the Bi-County Parkway down, but don’t count it out.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is no longer seeking federal funds for the 10-mile highway that would link travelers on Interstate 95 in Dumfries to I-66, and ultimately to Dulles Airport in Loudoun County.

The project must now undergo a statewide review process mandated by House Bill 2, also known as the “HB2” process, where highway projects that are not fully funded funnel through a state review process.

“This is a new prioritization process we’re still developing where projects will be screened and scored based on their ability to improve traffic congestion and highway safety,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tamara Rollison.

Projects that will go through HB2 screen have yet to be identified.  The HB2 scoring rubric is expected to be finalized in June, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board in Richmond could select their first projects for review by fall. 

The Commonwealth Transportation Board may be review projects  at urging of a local board of supervisors or a metropolitan planning organization.

“The big difference between the HB2 process versus the old process is that, for the first time, [the review process is mandated] in legislation. This administration is trying to take politics out of transportation as much as possible. It’s about taking limited dollars in within the state to meet as many transportation needs as we can,” added Rollison.

VDOT notified Northern Virginia Delegate Tim Hugo by letter it was no longer seeking federal funds for the project. That letter also addresses the HB2 process.

Politicians said that notice is a sign of defeat for a once contentious project. Two years ago, a debate over the Bi-County Parkway had highway officials, business leaders, politicians, and residents who live along the Route 234 corridor up in arms. 

On Tuesday, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart released this statement: (more…)

‘Drive to Donate’ program raises over $78K for fire and rescue departments

The Drive to Donate program, hosted by Transurban, raised over $78,000 for area fire and rescue departments on March 21. 

More than 20,000 drivers took to the 495 and 95 Express Lanes to participate the in the program. All of the toll money collected by these drivers on the toll lanes was donated to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, Prince William County Fire and Rescue, and Stafford County Fire and Rescue.

According to a Transurban release, each of the fire and rescue departments received over $26,000 to help them purchase equipment and continue to protect area residents. 

“We are pleased that so many drivers chose to travel on the 495 and 95 Express Lanes on March 21 to help us support a great cause. As safety is the top priority on the Express Lanes, it was important to us to support our local fire and rescue organizations. This donation is one way we can thank our local heroes for keeping the communities surrounding the Express Lanes corridor safe each and every day,” said Jennifer Aument, North American Group General Manager for Transurban in a release.

All three fire and rescue departments were grateful for the donation from drivers that participated in the program.

“The Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue is grateful for the support provided by those drivers who traveled the Express Lanes on March 21 and to Transurban for supporting both driver safety and local fire and rescue departments through the Drive to Donate program,” said Prince William County Assistant Chief, Lance McClintock, in a release. 

The Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department will use some of the raised funds for their Operation Warm Coats for Kids Program.

“Thanks to the Drive to Donate campaign, we believe we will be able to provide a warm coat to every Stafford County student who needs one this coming fall and winter,” said Stafford County Fire and Rescue Chief, Mark Lockhart in a release, continuing, “This incredible donation will move us closer to that goal.  Every child should have a coat to keep them warm; we are grateful that the Drive to Donate program will help us take care of Stafford’s children.” 

Lane closures on I-95 in Stafford tonight

Two lanes of northbound and southbound Interstate 95 traffic will be closed tonight for bridge joint repair work at the Route 17 overpasses in Stafford County, just north of the Rappahannock River bridge at Exit 133/Falmouth. 

Work will begin on the northbound overpass. When work is complete, all northbound lanes will be re-opened, and crews will shift to the southbound I-95 overpass.

Lane closures will occur on the following schedule:

  • 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. – Two northbound I-95 lanes closed
  • 10 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.? Two southbound I-95 lanes closed

All lanes will be re-opened by 4:30 a.m.

Crews are performing bridge deck repairs on the overpasses, which have had temporary pothole repairs recently.

For real-time updates on lane closures and work zones, please visit VDOT’s 24-hour traffic information website, www.511virginia.org.

Motorists can also access 511Virginia by calling 511 from any telephone in Virginia, or downloading VDOT’s 511Virginia free mobile app.


VDOT conduct ‘slugging’ survey in Stafford

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is conducting a slugging survey to look at the HOV carpooling patterns at the expanded Staffordboro commuter lot just off Route 610 in North Stafford.

Slugs are those who hitch rides in vehicles with three or more occupants to ride free on the EZ-Pass Express Lanes with an EZ-Pass Flex transponder in the vehicles.

According to a VDOT release, they are concerned about congestion that’s been seen at the slugging pick-up line at the Staffordboro lot during weekday mornings.

In addition to an online survey VDOT is asking riders to fill out, there are plans to send VDOT staff out to the slug line to speak with commuters, according to a release.

The survey is being conducted for the next month, according to Kelly Hannon, a Communications Manager with VDOT.

“This is an unscientific, convenience sample, but we wanted to do as much as we could to ask the people using these features for their ideas,” said Hannon.

Potomac Local spoke with area commuters and found that the expanded Staffordboro and the extended EZ-Pass Express Lanes on Interstate 95
from Dumfries to Route 610 has been a relief for many.

“It’s a little easier,” said Beulah Williams, Stafford. “I feel like I get about 20 minutes more at home every day.”

The majority of the construction of the lanes wrapped in December when the lanes opened to traffic. Every driver on the lanes needs an EZ-Pass to use them, and vehicles with two or fewer occupants are charged tolls to use the lanes. (more…)

Gas leak in Manassas, Sudley Road closed


The closed section of Sudley Road has now been reopened, according to a Prince William police release.

Original post

Due to a gas leak in Manassas, Sudley Road will be closed in both directions, from Bulloch Drive to Route 29, according to a Prince William police release.

Additionally, there is restricted access for drivers attempting to access Sudley Road from I-66.

The area of closure for the gas leak extends near the Manassas Northern Virginia Community College Campus and the Manassas Battlefield Visitor Center. 

There is currently no estimated time for repairs to be completed at this time.

Potomac Local will keep you up to date on the latest information about this gas leak.

More from a Prince William police release:

*TRAFFIC ALERT: Gas Leak | Manassas;

Sudley Rd will be closed in both directions between Bulloch Dr and Lee Hwy (RT.29) near the NVCC Campus and Manassas Battlefield Visitor Center. Access to Sudley Rd from I-66 is restricted. Unknown ETA for repairs.Use caution and follow police direction.

Express Lane drivers confused by E-Z Pass, survey says

The 95 Express Lanes opened three months ago, and while the lanes have seen support in the area, there is still some confusion about using the lanes and the E-Z Pass tolling devices.

A February survey, conducted by Transurban, including 1,266 area drivers, showed that many drivers knew how to enter and exit the Express Lanes.

But the survey also showed there are some major sources of confusion relating to keeping funds on their E-Z Pass, where to mount the device, and the requirement that their license plate be linked to their E-Z Pass account.

“We are pleased that drivers are experiencing the benefits of the 95 Express Lanes, such as faster travel, less congestion and more reliable travel times. Using the Express Lanes is easy but some drivers still have questions about how the Lanes work and how to properly use E-ZPass,” said Nic Barr, Vice President of Operations for Transurban, in a release.

Those that have never driven on the 95 Express Lanes, or those that are confused about their E-Z Passes, can seek out tools and information online, said Transurban.

In a release, Transurban stated that drivers can go to the Express Lanes website and use their trip planning tool.

Additionally, they can learn about properly using the E-Z Pass device, as well as sign up for text or email alerts about the toll prices. The toll prices on the Express Lanes change every 15 minutes, according to real-time traffic.

And if drivers make a mistake with their E-Z Pass, Transurban offers a forgiveness program and customer service assistance, according to Transurban spokesperson Mike McGurk.

“If you take the 95 Express Lanes without an EZ-Pass, what you can do is you can either call our customer service center or go online and if it’s within five days of your trip, you can actually search for your trip and settle the cost of your tolls…Look, if it’s your first time getting an invoice – maybe you didn’t know you needed an EZ-Pass, maybe you didn’t have funding on your EZ-Pass – if you call us after getting that invoice, and it’s your first time, we’ll waive all of the fees and just take payment of your toll,” McGurk commented.

VDOT says this bridge over I-95 in Stafford County is still safe to use

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Bridge showing signs of deterioration

Traveling on Interstate 95 in Stafford County, it’s easy to spot the deficiencies on the bridge that carries traffic on American Legion Road.

Reinforced steel bars or rebar, is exposed on two one of the concrete pylons that support the two-lane bridge. There are cracks along other portions of the concrete.

The bridge remains open, and hundreds of thousands of cars continue to pass underneath the bridge when traveling the east coast, from Maine to Florida.

“This bridge is safe for travel. VDOT would not hesitate to make emergency repairs or close a bridge if there was any concern for motorist safety,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelly Hannon. “Visible rebar is a sign that concrete patching is required. There is no plan to change the bridge’s weight posting, which sets the maximum weight for vehicles crossing the bridge. Right now, vehicles meeting all legal load limits in Virginia are allowed to cross the bridge.”

The exposed rebar is a sign of deterioration, probably due to moisture, said Hannon. Moisture can cause the steel to rebar to rust and then expand, causing the concrete to deteriorate from the inside out.

The bridge was built in 1964, and exposed rebar is more common among these types of bridges, said Hannon.

The bridge, like most in Virginia, is inspected every two years. The exposed rebar was noted in the bridge’s last inspection report in November 2013. 

The bridge is scheduled to be inspected again this year. In the meantime, VDOT says it’ll replace the damaged concrete.

“The rebar will be cleaned and repaired, if necessary. Concrete will be replaced at the location where it has deteriorated. We have an upcoming maintenance contract for bridges in VDOT’s 14-county Fredericksburg District to include routine repairs to bridges. A date has not been scheduled,” said Hannon.

Virginia has more than 20,000 bridges to inspect statewide.

Express Lanes used for leisure travel more than commuting, data shows

A study conducted in February of 1,266 area drivers has provided information on the ways that the 95 Express Lanes are changing the commute and general travel for Virginia drivers.

The 95 Express Lanes opened at the end of December last year. Transurban, the company that currently operates the Express Lanes, conducted the study.

While the Express Lanes have been able to alleviate some of the area’s commuter traffic, the survey found that a majority of drivers using the lanes (41%), were using them for visiting family and friends.

According to the data, only 34% to 36% of drivers are using the lanes for commuting to and from work.

In order to access the Express Lanes, drivers need to have an EZ-Pass device mounted in their car, and money loaded on it in order to use the lanes. The fees for using the toll lanes changes about every 15 minutes, using real-time traffic data to calculate the toll charge, said Mike McGurk, a spokesperson from Transurban.

According to Transurban’s online survey, more females (53%) used the lanes than their male counterparts (47%), and that the average age for Express Lane drivers was 40 years old.

A large percentage – 70% – of the commuters that used the 95 Express Lanes also merged on to use the 495 Express Lanes, the first of the Express Lane projects in Northern Virginia.

Another interesting finding was that a majority of area residents – whether they used the Express Lanes or not – thought that they would benefit the area and traffic flow.

And this has been fairly accurate, as the data collected from Express Lane users showed that they’re seeing half the congestion they would see on the general-purpose lanes and that they’re saving about 20 minutes per average on their trip.

Transurban intends to continue to collect data on the new 95 Express Lanes, to help better understand how it is changing the roadways in Northern Virginia.

Historic bridge to undergo $5 million in repairs, expansion in Nokesville

The Aden Road Bridge, located just east of Route 28 in Nokesville, will undergo extensive repairs and expansion as part of a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) improvement project this summer.

The project will cost $5.77 million dollars, according to VDOT.

Built in 1882, the bridge was owned by the Keystone Bridge Company, and was later purchased by the Norfolk Southern Railroad, who transferred the ownership rights to VDOT last year.

The bridge is currently on the National Historic Registry. In order to be placed on the registry, a structure must be more than 50 years old and bear historical significance.

And with a structure that old, there is bound to be deterioration of the structure, which is what prompted the project, according to Thomas Blaser, the Prince William County Director of Transportation.

“The Aden Road Bridge is an old railroad bridge owned by the Norfolk Southern. It’s one lane, so [oncoming] traffic has to wait for the other lane to be clear, and it’s been in disrepair on and off for the last five years,” said Blaser.

Repairs have been done to the Aden Road Bridge in the past, but not an overhaul of this scale. According to Claudia Llana, Preliminary Engineering Program Manager of Prince William for VDOT, it was time to step in and make major repairs following an inspection of the bridge last year.

“…it is presently classified as structurally deficient. VDOT bridge crews inspected the bridge on Thursday, March 27 and posted new weight limit signs the following day, reducing the weight limit on the historic bridge from 6 tons to 4 tons due to further corrosion of the structurally deficient truss bridge,” Llana said.

Blaser said that the current plans are to keep the existing design of the bridge, but that another adjacent lane will be added.

“[VDOT wants to] once and for all, repair the existing bridge, and keep the existing historical trusses like they are, and then build a parallel bridge right next to it. It will look to the user like you have one bridge, but it will be two different structures, side by side,” said Blaser.

Additionally, a new intersection will be placed at Marsteller Drive just past the bridge, according to Llana.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors has partnered with VDOT to support the project, and they have planned for a closure of the bridge for the entire nine months of planned construction. A detour has been planned for any residents that use the bridge.

Aden Road is considered a low volume roadway.

As a historical fixture, VDOT wanted to ensure that the integrity of the bridge’s design would be maintained throughout the project.

“The VDOT project recognizes the historical significance of the truss bridge and nearby Civil War battlefield sites, and the value to the community of this landmark. The project will rehabilitate the wrought iron truss bridge, reinstall it along the same alignment, and place a historical marker and pull-off area to enhance public appreciation of the bridge and site,” said Llana.

Construction is set for completion in the spring of 2016.

Free rides offered on St. Patrick’s Day

Several area organizations, including the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), have announced free ride offers for those planning to party on St. Patrick’s Day.

WRAP has launched a SoberRide program for St. Patrick’s Day this year, which will allow area residents to access a free and safe ride home from 4 p.m. on Tuesday, to 4 a.m. on Wednesday.

The SoberRide program has been active since 1993, and WRAP has been able to provide more than 62,000 rides home for residents.

In order to utilize the SoberRide program, and get the free cab ride home, a person must call 800-200-8294 or AT&T customers can dial ‘#WRAP’. Riders must also be older than 21 years old to use the service.

The program will cover the cost of up to a $30 cab fare, and riders are responsible for any cost for transportation, after the $30.

Participating Taxi Companies:

Alexandria Yellow Cab (Alexandria)

Barwood, Inc. (Montgomery County)

Fairfax Yellow Cab (Fairfax County)

Loudoun Yellow Cab (Eastern Loudoun County)

Northern Virginia Checker (Prince William County)

Red Top Cab Company (Arlington County)

Silver Cab of Prince George’s County (Prince George’s County)

Yellow Cab of District of Columbia (District of Columbia)

Yellow Cab of Prince William County (Prince William County)

In addition to WRAP’s SoberRide program, free shuttle services are being provided in Occoquan.

The Occoquan Transportation Company is offering free shuttle service home from 10 p.m. on Tuesday, to 1 a.m. on Wednesday for Prince William residents within a 5-mile radius of Occoquan.

To utilize the free shuttle service in Occoquan on St. Patrick’s Day, residents need to call 571-276-8695.

Tolls on I-66 inside Capital Beltway would fund needed transit projects

Virginia will move ahead with plans to put high occupancy toll lanes on Interstate 66.

But unlike new lanes that opened in December on I-95 between Stafford and Esdall Road in Alexandria, the lanes on I-66 will only be tolled during peak periods.

The idea is to move more people, not more cars. Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane announced the new initiative this week in Fairfax.

“Drivers traveling on I-66 inside the Beltway face serious delays in both directions ranging from 2 to 5 miles each day,” said Layne in a press release. “Bus service and other transit options face connectivity challenges and are greatly impacted by this congestion and unreliability. Improving these conditions is going to take a transformation of the entire I-66 corridor, and it’s going to take more than one solution. Governor McAuliffe is committed to implementing the right solutions to improve this vital transportation corridor.”

Lane proposed tolls on the stretch of I-66 inside the Capital Beltway, from I-495 to Route 29 in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood. Tolling would be imposed on both sides of the highway and work like this:

Vehicles with three or more people would travel the lanes for free during peak periods while other drivers would pay a toll to use the lanes. The lanes would remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods.

  • Vehicles with three or more people would travel the lanes for free during peak periods while other drivers would pay a toll to use the lanes.
  • The lanes would remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods.

Drivers on I-66 headed toward Washington in the mornings regularly hit a bottleneck at the Captial Beltway, when I-66 east drops from four lanes to two lanes. Other I-66 improvements outside the Capital Beltway, from I-95 to Haymarket are also under consideration. (more…)

Four VDOT projects to improve congestion for Prince William residents

There are currently four projects being worked on by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) that will help the flow of traffic and improve congestion in the western end of Prince William.

The projects – the Linton Hall Road Interchange, I-66 Widening project, Interstate 66/Route 15 Interchange, and Transform 66 project were all discussed at a recent town hall meeting in Haymarket.

The Linton Hall Road Interchange project began back in 2011 and is projected to conclude this summer. It’s budgeted for $230 million, according to the VDOT website. It includes four new bridges, a traffic signal removal, a concrete sidewalk, shared-use path, ten retaining walls, and new roadway lighting.

The Interstate 66/Route 15 Interchange project’s design process began back in 2014 and is set to cost $59 million, according to the VDOT website. Construction on the project began this spring and will be completed in 2017. The interchange improvements include ramp improvements, two longer bridges with crossover intersections, wider intersections at Heathcote Boulevard and Route 55, as well as a shared use path, according to the VDOT website.

For the I-66 Widening Project, there is work being done from Route 15 in Haymarket to Route 29 in Gainesville, which began in 2014. The project, according to the VDOT website, is budgeted at $73.5 million and will add one HOV lane and one regular in each direction of the road on that stretch.

The Transform 66 project will add two Express Lanes to the I-66 corridor, with a tolling system similar to the 495 and 95 Expressway, according to Director of Megaprojects, Susan Shaw. (more…)

OmniRide funding crisis not on Prince William officials’ radar screens

This week,two public hearings to announce the 2016 budget that included an increase in OmniRide and OmniLink fares, as well as the elimination of OmniRide’s Route One bus. 

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Executive Director Alfred Harf said all of the changes were necessary, including the elimination of the Route 1 bus.  

“Its ridership has always been very low,” Harf said. 

The trip carries an average of 15 people in the morning and six in the afternoon. Harf added that the route had survived for as long as it had because the nature of the route allowed for more federal funds. 

Recent changes in funding meant that the route had to be evaluated on its own merits.  In addition to it being the least productive route, there are also other options available, including the South Route 1 bus. 

Riders of OmniLink and OmniRide using SmarTrip will see an almost 8% increase in fares, while MetroDirect will see a 6.90% increase.  Reduced fares have similar hikes in prices, with OmniLink jumping 7.69%, OmniRide 7.79%, and MetroDirect 5.56%.  Cash fares hold similar spikes in price.  

Most citizens at the public heari’sngs had more questions rather than concerns. 

“It’s been very muted,” Harf said about reactions to the fare jumps.  “Everyone’s been accepting of the fact that everything on the table for the fiscal year of 2016 was well reasoned.” 

Concerned citizen Walter Carter said, “I don’t stand in opposition to what is being done, I’m a long standing supporter of the transportation system in this city but I’m trying to get a handle on this thing.”

Facing funding cliff, PRTC sets public hearings on bus fare increases, route elimination

Bus riders could soon pay more on OmniRide and OmniLink buses, and an OmniRide route faces elimination.

The agency that operates the buses, the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, will hold two public hearing this week on its “austere” $68.2 million fiscal year 2016 budget. The transit agency states there are “major funding uncertainties” in the coming years, especially in 2017, such as 10% decline in state funding and flat federal funds.

Under the plan, SmartTrip users on OmniRide commuter buses who pay $5.75 for a one-way fare will see a nearly 8% increase to $6.20. A reduced fare would increase to $4.15.

Those who pay with cash on OmniRide would pay $8.30 for a one-way trip, up from $7.70.

OmniLink customers would see a 10 cent jump in the cost of a one-way fare to $1.40, and reduced fares would increase 5 cents to $.70 per fare.

Those who ride Metro Direct buses from Prince William County would see one-way SmartTrip fares increase to $3.10, up from $2.90, and cash users would pay $3.85, up from $3.60.

If fares escalate, it will mark the first increase since 2013, according to agency spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo. PRTC plans for fare increases every two years, so this one isn’t tied to the austere budget.

Route 1 bus elimination

A proposal to eliminate the Route 1 OmniRide bus is, however. The bus is “the least productive OmniRide route” with an average daily ridership of 21.5 trips. The bus has carried as few as 15 people on a morning trip as few as six on an afternoon trip.

If Route 1 service ends, riders could choose to use the South Route 1 bus or buses that serve a park and ride lot at Route 123 near Occoquan.

Prince William County is the largest jurisdictional funding source of PRTC and is slated to contribute $15.7 million in funds next year. The county uses a 2.1% motors fuels tax collected at the gas pump when drivers fill up their tanks to fund the transit service.

Gas tax funds running out

That fund is shrinking, in part, due to lower fuel prices. The county has also paid more into PRTC than what the motor fuels tax collected. Until 2008, the county had provided additional funding from the county’s general fund to supplement the motors fuels tax funding. The supplemental funding created a reserve fund that was tapped to cover the shortfall, according to PRTC documents.

PRTC officials warn that if a supplement is not reinstated, PRTC riders face major service cuts in 2017 when the motor fuels tax fund is expected to be depleted creating a $7 million shortfall. Those cuts have yet to be outlined.

The first public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at PRTC headquarters in Woodbridge 14700 Potomac Mills Road. A second will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Manassas City Hall, at 9027 Center Street in Manassas.

Tractor trailer crash snarls I-95 in Stafford


A tractor trailer carrying a load of cherry tomatoes crashed about 5 a.m. Saturday.

Emergency crews were called to the crash scene on Interstate 95 north, just north of Garrisonville Road. The truck slammed into a crash attenuator, filled with hardened foam, just prior to a series of concrete barriers on the right shoulder.

The trailer ripped in two. The back end remained at the crash attenuator, and the rest of the truck continued north for about 50 yards before coming to rest. The truck came to rest behind the Aquia Pines campground in North Stafford.

No one was injured in the crash. A man who identified himself as the driver stood outside the crash scene talking with Virginia State Police, the agency that was on the scene investigating the crash.

About 75 gallons of fuel spilled from one of the truck’s tanks. Highway crews used sand to absorb the fuel.

At 8 a.m., traffic was getting by the crash in the left lane.

Several boxes of cherry tomatoes speckled the snow-covered roadside. The truck is owned and operated by Leroy Butler, of Jacksonville, N.C.

Drivers on I-95 north sat in delays for about a mile south of the crash scene, to about Courthouse Road.

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