Traffic & Transit
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.
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.
UPDATE Friday 2 p.m.
The driver of the Kia, Sara M. Jones, 29, of Woodbridge, Va., died at the scene.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — A bridge rehabilitation project has finished on Va. 610 (Garrisonville Road) over Aquia Creek in Stafford County, just west of the intersection with Joshua Road.
Both travel lanes over the bridge are now open to traffic.
The $436,464 project was completed on time and on budget. The project replaced the bridge joints, and repaired the surface of the bridge substructure and superstructure.
The project also added new guardrail, paved the roadway approaches to the bridge, reconstructed the shoulders, and refreshed pavement markings.
One lane of the bridge had been closed for construction since May. Eastbound and westbound traffic was required to alternate crossing the bridge in a single travel lane, controlled by temporary traffic signals.
The project contractor is McClain & Co, Inc.
The existing bridge was built in 1957. The bridge carries an estimated average of 9,100 vehicles a day, according to a 2010 Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) traffic count.
Despite an overall weak economy and a hurricane that could impact weekend plans, travelers are expected to hit the roads for one last summer blast.
The Labor Day holiday travel weekend begins Friday and nearly 800,000 residents in the Washington area are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home. It’s a 3.5 percent increase over the number of travelers last year with many of them planning to drive, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
They will also be pain at the pump where prices have risen more than 40 cents in the last two months. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in the Potomac Communities is $3.74.
Travelers at airports, train and bus stations are also warned to expect larger the normal crowds this weekend, partially because of rain from what was Hurricane Isaac, which slammed into the Louisiana Gulf Coast this week. Remnants of the storm are expected to drench the central and eastern portions of the U.S. this weekend.
On the roads, the Virginia Department of Transportation will lift all road closures and suspend all work zones for the long holiday weekend starting at noon Friday. That means free-flowing interstate highways with no construction interruptions at least until noon Tuesday.
Virginia State Police will also be out in force again this year after 16 people lost their lives on state roads last Labor Day weekend. Thirteen people were killed in both 2010 and 2009 during the same weekend.
“With state police’s stepped up enforcement efforts, drivers are also reminded of Virginia’s Move Over law. Motorists need to comply with the law that has been in effect since 2002. It requires drivers to change to another travel lane or, when not able to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also applies to emergency response vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights,” said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
Those headed planning to use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to head to Maryland’s Eastern Shore should plan to travel before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m. Friday to avoid most delays. Drivers are urged to mind the same drive times for the return trip on Monday.
Alone. Desperate. Panic.
These are just some of the thoughts running through my mind as I watch the commuter bus drive away – the bus that I should be on right now.
I remember this feeling from the handful of times I missed the bus in my school days. Dreading going home to get a ride to school from my parents, along with a lecture about being on time. This is so much worse than that.
If only I had made the earlier Yellow line train on Metro to get to the Pentagon sooner. Instead, I had to wait 12 minutes for the next train. And when the next one finally came, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to make it to the bus. Arriving at the Pentagon Metro Station with only a minute to spare, I ran as fast as I could toward the bus bay only to find the bus pulling away before I could reach the doors.
“Please, stop the bus!” I called out to the bus supervisor.
I thought of the bus having to stop at the stop sign on the way out of the Pentagon parking lot, and tried to catch it there, but to no avail. The driver wouldn’t stop since it wasn’t a designated bus stop, and the Pentagon Police can be strict about pick-up and drop-off locations.
So here I am now, standing alone in the South Parking area of the Pentagon. I’m right near the Slug lines, but won’t be able to slug for another hour. And even then, I can’t slug to the commuter lot where my car is parked. I feel helpless.
And hot. I’m drenched in sweat, and I’ve only been standing here for about 10 minutes. Thank goodness for my Android phone and mobile internet, so I can check for other options. The next bus isn’t due for almost two hours. Sigh. I decide to get back on the Metro towards Franconia-Springfield; there’s a connector bus that will bring me back to Woodbridge, but not to my car. Maybe I can call a friend to pick me up. But no one answers.
Probably because everyone is at work. It’s still early in the afternoon, which is why I’m in such a bind in the first place. I left my office early that day because I wasn’t feeling well. Now I’m feeling 100 times worse.
The Metro car is stuffy and feels like it’s moving slower than usual. As we finally arrive at the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, I look out the window just in time to see the Metro connector bus driving away. My heart sinks. Now what?
Why did I ever leave my office? I would have been better off just waiting until the afternoon buses started running more frequently. The next bus won’t come for another 40 minutes. Why didn’t I just call for a Guaranteed Ride Home?
The Guaranteed Ride Home Program has been really helpful to me before. As a member of the program, commuters can take advantage of a free ride home in the event of an emergency, illness or unscheduled overtime up to four times a year. I used it once when my supervisor sent me home sick one morning, and was grateful to use it then.
I fumbled through my wallet for my membership card and called the number. When an operator answered, I frantically explained that I was sick, sweating and oh, halfway home from my office.
“So you’re no longer at work?” asked the operator. “That’s a big no-no… but let me see what I can do.” I’m sure she could hear the desperation in my voice.
When she came back, she explained that participants in the program are only supposed to be picked up at their work location. However, since I hadn’t used my membership in the last year, she offered to send a ride, reminding me not to leave my office if I needed a guaranteed ride home again in the future.
Incredibly thankful, I went outside and waited for the car to arrive. About 20 minutes later, I was in an air-conditioned cab, finally heading home. Well, to the commuter lot. Good enough.
I was so relieved to get into my car and drive home that afternoon. Not to mention I was in bed before dinner that evening, exhausted after the entire experience.
Looking back, I know better than to depend on public transit to get me anywhere quickly when I’m in a hurry. Getting anywhere on time via public transportation means planning, and arriving earlier than it seems necessary.
And if I’m ever sick at work again, I won’t waste any time calling for a Guaranteed Ride Home. What a lifesaver!
TRIANGLE, Va. – Two cars were hit by falling power lines this morning on Interstate 95 at Triangle. The Power lines were accidentally cutby crews working to build toll lanes on Interstate 95.
No injuries were reported.
Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Steven Titunik said the lines were cut about mid-morning, and that a portion of I-95 at mile post 150 was closed in both directions about 2:30 p.m. so crews could retrieve the downed lines.
“At no time was anyone on the ground or any driver at risk during the time the lines were down,” said Titunik.
The closed portion of the highway is now reopened to traffic and delays have formed in the affected area.
VDOT reports about 300 homes located near the worksite were without power due to the downed lines.
The roadwork is part of the Interstate 95 Express Lanes project which will add nine additional miles of roadway along the highway median from Dumfries to Va. 610 in North Stafford. It will also see the conversion of I-95’s HOV lanes to toll lanes, between Dumfries and Edsall Road in Alexandria.
The new lanes are scheduled to open sometime in 2014.
The driver, Edwin H. Hall, 59, of Charles Town, W.Va., died at the scene. His remains have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination and autopsy.
-Virginia State Police
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – The driver of an overturned tanker truck was killed this morning when it crashed at Fairfax County Parkway and Interstate 95.
All lanes of the I-95 reopened at 6:25 a.m. but ramps from the highway to Fairfax County Parkway northbound and southbound toward U.S. 1 remain closed. As you might expect, traffic on I-95 north is delayed.
More now from Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller:
At about 2:14 a.m., a tanker truck overturned on the cloverleaf ramp of Rt. 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) while attempting to merge onto I-95 north. The tanker truck was fully engulfed by fire. Be 5 a.m., the fire was contained to where troopers and Fairfax County firefighters could finally safely approach the vehicle. The driver was located inside the vehicle deceased.
The far right lane of I-95NB remains closed but the 3 other lanes and HOV lanes remain open. Also, Exit 166B which is the entrance ramp to Rt. 286NB remains closed as does the ramp from south Rt. 286 to Rt. 1.
The VA State Police Motor Carrier is on scene and the VA State Police Crash Reconstruction Team are assisting with the investigation. The tanker truck was loaded with approximately 9,000 gallons of fuel. Cause of crash is still under investigation. State Police are still in the process of notifying next of kin of the deceased driver.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – A pilot test designed to improve commuter bus fuel efficiency was so successful that the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, PRTC, is now proceeding to retrofit more than two dozen buses with the technology.
Pilot testing began last fall, when PRTC agreed to partner with Engineered Machined Products Inc., EMP, on a first-ever test in which EMP engineered and installed its Mini-Hybrid radiator cooling equipment on one of PRTC’s commuter buses. EMP’s equipment was previously tested on conventional transit buses, (those that travel at relatively low speeds and make frequent stops), yielding such impressive fuel efficiency savings that the cooling system is now used by a number of transit systems that operate conventional transit buses, including PRTC. But the cooling system had never been tested on a motor coach that typically operates at higher speeds for longer distances, such as the buses that make up the majority of PRTC’s fleet.
After the pilot cooling system was installed at EMP’s expense, the bus was returned to PRTC and placed back into regular service. During the next several months, PRTC compared the bus’s fuel efficiency with statistics for the same bus that were recorded before the equipment installation.
The test results, completed in July, showed that the retrofitted bus is now 15 percent more fuel efficient. By retrofitting 29 more buses, PRTC will save approximately $133,000 per year in fuel costs. With savings of that magnitude, the cost of the cooling system retrofit will be recovered in less than three years.
“All of the buses slated for the retrofit will remain in service for significantly longer than three years, thus yielding additional savings to benefit local taxpayers,” said PRTC Executive Director Al Harf.
The retrofits will be done while the buses are undergoing already-scheduled mid-life overhauls. The on-going mid-life overhaul program rebuilds buses manufactured between 2002-2006, outfitting them with new engines, transmissions, suspension systems, brakes, seats and more. Only buses that have not yet been overhauled will be outfitted with the new fuel-efficiency equipment.
By the end of 2013, more than 1/3 of PRTC’s fleet will have the Mini-Hybrid equipment either installed originally at the factory as part of a new bus manufacture or retrofitted under this program. Among the new buses are 13 funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation through its discretionary Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, six of which have already been delivered.
The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, PRTC, provides commuter and local bus services as well as rideshare services in the Prince William County area of Northern Virginia, about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – For the first time, regional transit agencies are partnering to bring more vanpool options to the region.
The Potomac and Rappahannock Transit Commission (PRTC), George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) are all working together to create a new vanpool service that will begin in January.
PRTC chief Alfred Harf said the three organizations have drawn inspiration from similar programs in other metro areas, while at the same time, recognizing the unique regional attributes of vanpooling.
The program envisions each vanpool owner or operator being paid $200 per month as consideration for providing statistical information from their riders. PRTC will collect the information and then submit it to the Federal Transit Administration as part of a National Transit Database.
The information will be used to determine how much federal funding the region will get to maintain and grow the vanpool program.
The $3.2 million program was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in July, and it will fund all but $1.6 million of the total cost. The remaining $1.6 million will be supplemented through a two-and-a-half year loan from PRTC and NVTC, which will be used to fund the program through its initial phases until federal funding kicks in.
The vanpool incentive program aims to not only introduce new vanpools, but also to encourage existing vanpoolers to become program participants, said Harf. Currently, there are over 800 existing vanpools in the region, and it is estimated that half of them will opt into the new program. PRTC estimates the program will grow up to 10 percent per year.
Once the program kicks off, commuters will have the ability to sign up for vanpools online.
Like slugging, the informal carpooling system that exists almost exclusively in and Northern Virginia, vanpooling has grown in the region with little government involvement, though many area vanpoolers receive the same employer-sponsored commuter monetary benefits that other transit riders who use buses or trains.
Though both PRTC and GWRC have a long history of providing vanpool services and has helped to start-up and sustain vanpools, this new Vanpool Incentive Program marks the first time that PRTC will manage such a large effort.
In other metro areas, most vanpools are largely publicly-owned or publicly-leased vans, which vanpoolers use at below-market rates, subsidized by the public agencies that run the programs to increase vanpool usage, according to Harf.
MANASSAS, Va. – Manassas will celebrate the second coming of the Civil War this weekend with several events to mark the 150th anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas.
The three-day event kicks Friday off this weekend in Old Town Manassas with re-enactors, living history demonstrations, a parade, and a Blue and Gray Ball.
Running through Sunday, the event comes after history buffs flocked to the Manassas area last year to commemorate the first Battle of Manassas during a large re-enactment on a field west of Interstate 66.
This weekend’s events will bring street closures to Old Town, which is fresh off an appearance by probable Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Aug. 11.
More in a press release from the city:
Below is a list of street closings as part of the Commemoration of the Second Battle of Manassas/Bull Run. For a full list of events being held this weekend in the City of Manassas visitmanassascivilwar.org.
• West Street (from Center Street to Prince William Street) will be closed to vehicle traffic from 1 p.m. on Aug. 22 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 26.
• Battle Street (from Center Street to Prince William Street) will be closed from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day from Aug. 23 to Aug. 26.
• Prince William Street (from Liberty Street to the Parking Garage) will be closed from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Aug. 25 and Aug. 26.
• Manassas Museum Lot will be closed Aug. 23 – Aug. 26.
• Lot F will be designated handicapped parking
• Diagonal parking spaces in front of the Museum will be closed Aug. 23 – Aug. 26.
• The Water Tower Lot will be closed Saturday, Aug. 25, for the Farmer’s Market, which will take place on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• The Visitors Center lot will be closed Aug. 22 at 11 p.m. to Aug. 26 at 10 p.m. On Aug. 25, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., parking will be restricted Main Street between Center Street and Prince William Street for the Re-enactor Parade.
By MIKE DiCICCO
QUANTICO, Va. – A survey of Quantico commuters found that 82 percent of them drive to and from work alone. That is the number the base’s updated transportation management plan, to be released in September, will try to bring down in an attempt to reduce congestion on and around the base.
“Basically, we’re trying to get people to use other modes of travel when it’s convenient,” said transportation planner Joe Winterer.
The commuter survey, conducted online in June and July and compiled in the first week of this month, received almost 1,500 useable responses, Winterer said.
Among the results was the finding that only about 6 percent of respondents use public transportation, and 6 percent carpool. Another 6 percent either walk or ride a bicycle, motorcycle or moped. Winterer noted that these numbers are probably a little high, as those who use alternative modes of transport are more likely to respond to a commuter survey.
About 3 percent responded that they regularly telework. Winterer said increasing telework hours will be a major initiative in coming years. However, more than half of respondents said their job was ineligible for telework, and the next-largest demographic was the 17.5 percent who don’t know if they’re allowed to telework.
Respondents were also asked what they considered the biggest commuting challenges they face. “The most frequent response was that the biggest problem was congestion outside the base,” Winterer said. “The next one was congestion at the gates.”
Asked what would encourage them to reduce their personal trips in single-occupancy vehicles, more than half of respondents said they would like to see a reliable, regular bus shuttle they could use to make short trips for lunch or meetings during the day, he said.
“When asked what improvements they’d like to see, most — about 75 percent of their answers — were related to non-motorist improvements,” Winterer said, adding that these included sidewalks, bike lanes, better crosswalks and improved lighting. He said this was not so surprising, considering the number of people who do their physical training on base, often in the dark, early hours.
For the most part, Winterer said, the results were not unexpected but did serve to validate planners’ belief that congestion needs to be reduced by encouraging carpooling, use of public transportation and telework, as well as securing funding to rebuild the base’s front gate to look more like the five-lane back gate.
“Those survey results will be coupled with other data we collected over the last six months to develop a transportation management plan,” he said. The plan will consist of two major parts — an analysis of the area’s transportation network to prioritize new construction projects, and a transportation demand management plan aimed at reducing congestion by decreasing single-occupancy vehicle trips.
The survey will especially support the latter effort, while capital construction projects will be determined more by vehicle counts at various intersections, conducted last fall, and traffic forecasting and simulations.
The new transportation management plan’s release next month will coincide with revisions to the installation-wide Quantico Master Plan, which is also currently being updated. The base is paying Naval Facilities Engineering Command $103,000 to help bring the transportation plan up to date, and a first draft is already under review.
“The plan we’ve been operating under is 10 or 12 years old, so it’s definitely in need of an update,” Winterer said.
UPDATE Monday, Aug. 20
Clarence E. Alston, 42, of Washington, D.C., was standing outside his car that was stopped on the right shoulder of northbound I-95 at the 162 mile marker. A northbound Hyundai Santa Fe struck Alston. The Hyundai then fled the scene. The vehicle and its driver, Carol Rood-Johnson, 19, of Woodbridge, Va., were located later Saturday morning in Prince Georges County, Md.
UPDATE Saturday noon
Charges are filed against a 19-year-old woman from Woodbridge in the hit and run death of a driver on Interstate 95 early this morning. More from the Virginia State Police:
ORIGINAL POST 9 a.m.
LORTON, Va. – A pedestrian was killed this morning on Interstate 95 and police are now investigating the incident.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of I-95 north just south of Lorton, and the male driver stepped outside of their vehicle was struck and killed by a passing car. That car fled the scene, and now an accident reconstruction team is on the scene.
Traffic delays are the busy highway have mounted following the incident, A five-mile back up extends from the crash scene south into Prince William County. The right lane and shoulder have been closed for the investigation, but they should be reopening soon, said Geller.s
Here’s more from a Virginia State Police press release:
Just before midnight, a vehicle had pulled off onto the right shoulder of I-95 at the 162 mile marker in Fairfax County. The male driver was standing next the vehicle when a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV struck the man and then fled the scene at 12:02 a.m. The man died at the scene. The hit-and-run vehicle was recovered later Saturday morning in Maryland and Virginia State Police are in the process of interviewing its female driver. Charges are pending.
The man’s body was transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for positive identification. (Once positive identification is made and next of kin is notified, we will release his name).
The northbound lanes of I-95 remain closed at this time, as clean up from the incident continues. I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as the NB lanes are re-opened.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Virginia Department of Transportation has completed replacement of the Blackburn Road bridge over Neabsco Creek in Woodbridge and will re-open the road on Wednesday, Aug. 22, weather permitting.
VDOT closed the bridge on Jan. 9 after a routine inspection revealed severe vertical cracks on the bridge abutments.
VDOT bridge engineer Nicholas Roper noted, “The new bridge has a deeper foundation and a larger opening for the waterway that will improve overall durability and performance during high-water events.” A sidewalk has also been added to allow pedestrians to safely walk across the bridge.
Over the next several days, crews will pave the roadway and install guardrail. The new bridge (pictured right) cost about $2.7 million.
The bridge carries about 6,000 vehicles a day.
TRIANGLE, Va. – The work to expand commuting options and add toll lanes to Interstate 95 is underway.
Trees are already falling in the Triangle area where the High Occupancy Toll lanes are being extended nine miles south from Dumfries to Va. 610 in Stafford County.
From North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria, the new lanes will be a part of what will be 29 miles of the new 95 Express Lanes that will allow drivers to pay a toll to avoid traffic or continue to ride free in vehicles of three or more.
One hundred acres of trees will fall to make way for the project. Fluor-Transurban, the private operators of the lanes, said they are replacing the trees by planting 1,000 new trees in 1,000 days. The first tree was planted at a highway rest stop in Dale City after the groundbreaking of the 95 Express Lanes Project.
The express lanes are also known as High Occupancy Toll, or HOT lanes, and construction will bring some changes to drivers’ commutes. The HOV lanes north of Prince William Parkway will be completely realigned, narrowed, traffic shifted slightly to the right, and concrete barriers erected to allow crews work in the shoulder.
Older barriers that separate the HOV lanes from the travel lanes of I-95 will be replaced, new signage installed, and new drains put in during the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. during construction, according to a newsletter from Prince William Coles District Supervisor Mary Nohe.
The $1 billion project is expected to be complete in 2014 and employ 500 construction workers. The lanes will link with the 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway which are slated to open later this year.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Parking relief for Woodbridge commuters is coming in early September.
A new commuter lot on Telegraph Road near Interstate 95 and Prince William Parkway is scheduled to open after Labor Day. Commuters have been anxiously looking forward to the additional 700 commuter parking spaces at the new Telegraph Road Lot.
Although the adjacent Horner Road Lot is the largest commuter lot in the Virginia with more than 2,300 parking spaces, it is typically filled to capacity before 7:30 a.m., leaving many commuters arriving later to find parking at other area commuter lots.
In December, Prince William County officials awarded a $2.4 million contract to Tavares Concrete as part of the first phase of construction, resulting in 700 new parking spaces. The second phase of the project will include roadway and entrance improvements, according to county transportation officials.
County transportation officials say they are working with Dominion Virginia Power to confirm when power will be delivered to the lot. Provided there are no related setbacks, the first phase is expected to open as scheduled on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day.
There has been much discussion among commuters as to how the additional spaces should be utilized, some suggesting that the vanpools and OmniRide bus lines be relocated to the new lot in order to free up parking for Slug lines at the Horner Road lot.
However, according to OmniRide spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo, bus service will not be available at the Telegraph Road lot until early November, when PRTC’s fall schedule change takes effect. Though it is proximate to the Horner Road lot, the new lot has both routing and scheduling implications that must be worked out before the lot can be served by commuter buses.
How do you think the new Telegraph Road Commuter Lot should be utilized? Tweet Laura Cirillo @SlugTales on Twitter with your suggestions!
The Virginia Department of Transportation will close the I-95/395 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes from Dumfries Road, Exit 152 to Duke Street, Exit 3, Monday-Thursday nights, August 13-16, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Friday morning and again on Friday night, August 17, 11 p.m. to 9 a.m., Saturday morning, August 18 for paving, lane markings, barrier placement, and other related construction work on the new 95 Express Lanes project.
During night work hours, motorists will be able to access the I-395 HOV lanes north to Washington, D.C. at Seminary Road and Shirlington.
HOV lanes will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday August 18, heading north toward Washington, D.C.
Visit VAmegaprojects.com for all closures and to sign-up for alerts.
By JIM LAWRENCE
STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — George Schwartz represented the Falmouth District on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors from 2006 until 2009. One of his chief goals was to upgrade the spot where Cambridge Street (U.S. 1) Warrenton Road (U.S. 17), and Butler Road (Va. 218) converge.
It’s known as the infamous Falmouth intersection just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg in Stafford County.
“I persevered,” he said, in talking with the Board, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to make the project happen.
Now, the Virginia Department of Transportation is making that upgrade a reality.
“I am pleased that my number one goal as supervisor is coming to fruition,” he said.
The project will see the addition of separate turn and through lanes at the intersection. It’ll also increase vehicle capacity and give pedestrians new places to walk with the addition of new sidewalks.
Average wait times at a traffic light in the center of the intersection – notoriously known for backing up traffic during peak afternoon travel times, and when drivers exit a congested Interstate 95 to use U.S. 1 as an alternate route – will reduce from about four minutes down to 56 seconds when the project is completed.
According to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelly Hannon, discussions of the project have been ongoing since the 1990s. Having kicked around different ideas for a design of the project over the years, VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration approved an environmentally-friendly design plan in 2011.
From there VDOT went into the right-of-way acquisition phase, where they negotiate with landowners in the work zone for each parcel of property they will need to take to improve the road. Hannon says each negotiation is on a “very individual” basis, and that negotiations are underway right now.
All told, there are 26 parcels of land involved and offers have been made to 24 of the property owners. Buildings on each corner of the intersection will be demolished, said Hannon.
As the $24.8 million project moves forward, VDOT will request bids in December 2013 for a construction company to complete the improvements. The actual improvements will begin during the first half of 2014, and completion of the project is expected in 2016, said Hannon.
While a newly improved intersection means a better ride for drivers, it will result in some inconveniences for businesses in the neighborhood.
A.C. Glover sells hearth and patio products and is located at the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17. The business has been there about 35 years, according to employee Rich Morrison. The small wood building with no indoor plumbing the company calls home has been there much longer.
Morrison says the looming construction of the intersection has precluded any plan to install plumbing there. Harrison said a move to nearby Earl’s Shopping Center, located at Butler and Chatham Heights roads in Falmouth, is likely.
But they cannot move until the VDOT finalizes land negotiations with them. Morrison said he’s heard about the planned intersection improvements for years, and were originally told construction would begin this month. Now he’ll have to wait a bit longer for the start of construction in 2014.
Moving the business to Earls Shopping Center has its upsides and downsides. A shopping center means more parking and an accessible location. It also means more overhead. The company owns the land and building for its present location.
However, until the deal for their land is finalized with VDOT, they will go nowhere.
Sitting across from A.C. Glover is Blazes, another store specializing in hearth products at this location since 1990. Lance Foshee, a U.S. Marine, moved his business here from the Olde Forge neighborhood just right up the street at U.S. 17 and I-95 about six months after purchasing it.
“He wanted out,” he said of the former owner. “I wanted in. It worked out.”
He does not see the improvement of the intersection as necessary.
“Is it worth $30 million just to save commuters ten minutes?” he asked.
He realizes that construction of the intersection is to facilitate further development, but he questions its long term efficiency.
“Will it be obsolete before they extend it on down?” he asked.
His grandson, David, said uncertainty of when construction on the intersection would begin has impacted his business. Having previously been told construction was imminent they chose stock up on in-store items and have reduced their business to a special order operation. Without an inventory they lose the benefit of bulk discounts. They pay more for freight.
“It’s hurt,” said David Foshee. It’s hard to run a business when you’re told you have to move.”
They too are in negotiations with VDOT for the property their business sits on. Once they move they will reopen from their present warehouse location in Baron Park, located near White Oak and Deacon roads in Stafford County.
“After the present location closes and I’ll hang a sign on the door that said any more government help and I won’t survive,” said Lance Foshee.
John Koons opened used his car dealership on a corner of Cambridge Street and Butler Road in 2007. Besides the dealership, he owns the building that houses it.
“It’s a great location, said Koons. It’s located at a traffic light so everyone sees it. It’s a landmark and it’s near the Falmouth bridge. It makes giving directions easy. Business has been great,” he said.
He was aware of possible construction of the intersection and how it might affect his business when he moved in. But, he said, there had been talk of improving the intersection for five to 20 years, so there seemed a strong possibility that they might never do anything with it, he said.
Once the plan became reality, he discussed alternate plans with VDOT in an effort to get the transportation authority to leave his business alone while still improving the intersection. However, as they business was so close to the road, there were no alternatives.
Koons plans to stay in the area. “I love the people of Fredericksburg. I love the area,” he said.
Koon employs 25 people at the dealership. Though he is disappointed at the thought of relocating, he is not bitter and is looking to move to another location in the area. He will be taking his employees with him.
“God has a purpose for everything,’ he said. “We will keep moving forward and we are not leaving Fredericksburg.”
Across Butler Road is and old bank building that once housed the Stafford County Republican Party, and has been home to Stafford Junction since 2005. Originally known as Olde Forge junction, the faith-based non-profit program that works with children started in 2003.
A 2002 assessment of the area cited “numerous challenges including poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, unsupervised children, and an influx of non-English speaking Hispanic and refugee families,” according to their website.
According to the website, crime in the Olde Forge neighborhood dropped 50 percent within two years of the program’s inception. The program has since expanded throughout the county and helps with programs focusing on education, nutrition, and healthy living. It is looking to continue the expansion.
According to Linda A. Hill, executive director of Stafford Junction, the program works closely with Stafford County Public Schools and the sheriff’s office. The program has occupied the building since 2005 and has done so rent free courtesy of local late philanthropist Carl D. Silver, who was responsible for Fredericksburg’s mega Central Park shopping district.
Now they will have to move and start paying rent.
“Having the building has been a blessing,” said Hill. “It’s a huge issue that we have to relocate. The program will need to secure funding to pay for rent.”
OCCOQUAN, Va. – A bridge that carries commuters over the Occoquan River is one of two in the area constructed with defective grout.
The Occoquan River Bridge and Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which carries east coast traffic on I-95 over the Potomac River, were identified as two of at least 34 bridges constructed with grout contaminated with chloride making it prone to rust. The grout was manufactured in Ohio between 2002 and 2010, according to the Baltimore Sun which first broke the story.
Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Joan Morris said the grout does not pose and immediate safety threat, and said VDOT will continue to monitor and check the bridges for signs of rust or cracking — neither of which has been found on the Occoquan or Wilson bridges.
The Occoquan River Bridge, often referred to as the Route 123 Bridge, was completed in 2007. The new bridge was built to accommodate six lanes of traffic, and was constructed 44 feet higher to allow for taller sailboats to pass underneath.
The new Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River in Alexandria opened the following year.