Nonstop Local News for Prince William County, Va.



Traffic & Transit

U.S. 29 Traffic Being Shifted over Railroad, Train vs. Car Collisions will be Thing of the Past

Traffic will be shifted over an at-grade railroad crossing in Gainesville. [Photo: VDOT}

GAINESVILLE, Va. — Remember a few weeks back when we told you to avoid Gainesville like the plague? Tonight, you’ll want to heed that warning.

Construction crews will close all but one lane in each direction on U.S. 29 and Linton Hall Road. It’s a busy intersection near Interstate 66 that draws not only cars and trucks, but it also has a busy street-level railroad crossing.

The reason for the roadwork is actually about the railroad as crews are working to shift traffic on U.S. 29 to a new bridge that will carry vehicles over the street level crossing, which has been the site of several vehicle vs. train collisions over the years.

The work will break down like this:

From 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23 until noon Sunday, Aug. 25, only one lane in each direction will be open on Route 29 and Linton Hall Road and some turning movements will be restricted.

Motorists can avoid delays of up to an hour through Gainesville by using I-66 and Route 15.

In order to switch traffic, crews need to construct a tie-in to the new bridge and pave and stripe the area. Police will be on the scene to assist with traffic control.

Originally, the Virginia Department of Transportation scheduled the traffic shift last weekend but a Jimmy Buffett concert at nearby Jiffy Lube Live, and the traffic it would bring, prompted officials think better of their decision and postpone the work to this weekend.

This work is apart of a project that began in the early part of the last decade, as crews began widening a portion of I-66 to eight lanes between Va. 234 (Sudley Road) to Va. 234 Bypass (Prince William Parkway), which was completed in 2006.

Another leg of the project, a 4-lane University Boulevard in Gainesville, also opened in 2006. Subsequent work also included widening I-66 from Va. 234 Bypass to U.S. 29, as well as improving the interchange at U.S. 29 and I-66.

A congested area, Gainesville is a magnet for shoppers, and serves as a gateway to Charlottesville and other portions of Virginia for traveling by way of U.S. 29.

Rollins Ford Road Project Advances

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PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Work to widen and extend Rollins Ford Road is progressing.

The $15.1 million project to widen the Prince William County thoroughfare to four lanes and extend it from Songsparrow Drive to the busy Vint Hill Road is on time and on budget, county spokesman Keith Walker stated in an email.

When completed, Rollins Ford Road will connect Vint Hill and Linton Hall roads in Bristow. A portion of the new roadway will cross Broad Run, and a bridge is being built as part of the project.

Developers contributed $1,600 in proffer funds for the widening project.

The project is funded by a road bond referendum passed in 2006.

View Rollins Ford Road Widening in a larger map

I-95 Bypass in Stafford Would End in Orange, Where Major Development Eyed

U.S. 17 in southern Stafford County. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Plans for a Fredericksburg bypass show drivers would be able to exit Interstate 95 in Stafford County, cross the Rappahannock River, and end up in Orange County.

Once off I-95, drivers would connect with the new bypass via U.S. 17 near the Celebrate Virginia complex in Stafford County, head south on a planned Berea Parkway, cross the Rappahannock into the Culpeper County, and then exit the bypass at a terminus near Va. 20 in Orange County.

Stafford officials were briefed on the first stages of the proposal for building the new road by Spotsylvania County Deputy County Administrator and House of Delegates Republican Mark Cole. Endorsed by Spotsylvania County officials, Phase I of the 12-mile highway would run entirely outside Spotsylvania, have four lanes, and would alleviate traffic on congested I-95 in Fredericksburg, on the highway’s busy Rappahannock Falls Bridge, and on U.S. 1 which serves as a bailout route for drivers on I-95.

“This would give everyone in the I-95 corridor a relief valve, where they desperately need one” said Cole.

A Phase II of the project could be built in Spotsylvania County and would allow drivers to reconnect with I-95. Officials also said the bypass would allow trucks bound for Charlottesville faster access to Va. 20.

But Stafford Rockhill Supervisor Cord Sterling, who serves on Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board, said truckers are more likely to use U.S. 29 to get to Charlottesville, not I-95 or a roadway that connects to it.

Sterling also questioned what traffic impacts the roadway have an an already congested Va. 3 in Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg.

“I don’t see an incentive to take traffic on I-95 only to put them out at Route 20 in Orange, they would have to take

Route 3 back to 95, and that would put the traffic back in your court,” Sterling told Cole.

But the area where the road could terminate, in Orange County’s Wilderness area at the popular Lake of the Woods subdivision, might soon be a destination if Orange County officials have their way. While the area is 70 miles away from Washington, D.C., officials say the corner has “phenomenal” potential to house manufacturing and commercial industries because of it’s access to several transportation hubs.

Planning for any development is still in its infancy, zoning is still be worked out, and no companies have yet been courted to set up shot in the area, but there is a notion that this may become the county’s economic juggernaut.

“We really wanted to do something with landowners, existing businesses, and the county as whole, to create a live, work, and play concept that has a higher standard of development,” said Orange County Administrator Julie Summs. “We’re looking for something along the lines of an economic engine, an education generator with our access to Germanna Community College, and we see something that has a town center, a conference center, and something that is well integrated with historical areas already in the region.”

Orange County was the scene of a bitter development dispute between residents who wanted to preserve the area as a Civil War battlefield and Walmart, which wanted to construct a nearly 140,000 square-foot store in the area on Va. 3. After years of controversy, Walmart found a second nearby site on which to build on Va., and opted for somewhat smaller floorplan.

Officials in Spotsylvania County will need to work to build a regional consensus for the proposed bypass, and chose the Stafford County Board of Supervisors for the first leg of their consensus-building tour that will include leaders in Culpeper and Orange counties, and Fredericksburg.

NVTA Funding Could Mean Wider U.S. 1 in Dumfries Finished 10 Years Ahead of Schedule

U.S. 1 north in Dumfries. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

DUMFRIES, Va. — Dumfries officials want U.S. 1 — the heavily used 4-lane highway that bisects the town — to run on the straight and narrow.

A plan, long on the books to be completed by 2030, would widen U.S. 1 to six lanes so the north and south portions of the highway would run on the same span on Fraley Blvd. where the U.S. 1 north traffic runs now. It also means Main Street in front of Town Hall would no longer carry U.S. 1 south traffic.

The 1.5 mile widening project, from Brady’s Hill Road (where U.S 1 has already been widened to six lanes) to the intersection of Va. 234 near the Potomac Shores neighborhood in Prince William County currently under construction — will cost $60 million, and Virginia transportation officials say there’s already $2.2 million of that ready to go to start work.

Town Mayor Jerry Foreman serves on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), a board that determines which regional road projects will be funded with state tax dollars. He says Dumfries will move forward with a plan to place U.S. 1 widening on NVTA’s six-year funding plan, and that could mean the road would be widened about 10 years ahead of schedule.

More in a statement from Foreman:

A transportation project such as the Route l corridor (which is considered a major relief artery at the federal level) has been allowed to be piecemealed by partisan politics. The Town, working with the NVTA and VDOT should improve the remaining one mile of the town’s portion of Route 1 widening at the same time as the Route 1 and Route 234 improvements.

Rather than wait another five to ten years to improve the remaining one mile, politicians and VDOT should show fiduciary and planning acumen with taxpayer’s monies and properly widen all of Route 1 in the town in the same effort.

The improvements to U.S. 1 and Va. 234 cited in Foreman’s statement will be done as a new road, Potomac Shores Parkway, will be constructed to allow access to some 4,000 new homes to be built as part of Potomac Shores on the banks of the Potomac River.

The conventional thinking is, if construction crews are going to work to improve part of U.S. 1 at Dumfries, why not improve all of U.S. 1 through Dumfries?

The Dumfries Town Council is expected to approve the motion to lobby NTVA for funding for the widening project in September.

Geyser Leaves Sinkhole, Closes Dale City Street

DALE CITY, Va. — Chunks of asphalt, rocks, mud, and other debris were left behind after a geyser erupted on Catalpa Court in Dale City.

A water main break Sunday night on the neighborhood street in the Catbrier Heights section near Dale City Volunteer Fire Department Station 10 on Dale Boulevard left at least 50 townhomes without water.

Witnesses said the geyser shot at least 10 feet in into the air. In its wake, a 10-foot wide sinkhole was created where the main ruptured. The cause of the eruption was unknown late Sunday night.


Utility crews were called in and were able to shut off water to the main. At least half of the homes in the neighborhood still had water as those units received Dale City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Christopher Hool.

A homeowners association representative said those who were without water would have to wait at least eight hours for it to be restored. There were also plans to use dirt to fill in the sinkhole, and then apply temporary asphalt so drivers could once again get in and out of the neighborhood.

In addition to fire and rescue crews, police closed Catalpa Court to traffic while the mess was being cleaned up.The thoroughfare, which connects with Dale Boulevard, is the only way in and out of Catbrier Heights.

“There was water everywhere,” said William Golden, who shot a video of the geyser. “No one has been able to drive on the street since it erupted.”

Dodging police tape set up around the sinkhole, several residents were seen walking and carrying groceries and other necessities in plastic bags to their homes.

A water main burst in Catbrier Heights in Dale City Sunday evening ,leaving a large hole in the pavement and sending water gushing in the streets. [Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

A water main burst in Catbrier Heights in Dale City Sunday evening ,leaving a large hole in the pavement and sending water gushing in the streets. [Mary Davidson / Potomac Local News]

Man Killed When Moped Collides with Hyundai Tucson

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A 53-year-old man killed when his moped collided with Hyundai Tucson.

More in a police press release.

Fatal Crash – On August 15, 2013 at 6:08PM, police responded to Featherstone Square located at 14565 Jefferson Davis Highway in Woodbridge (22191) for a crash.

The investigation revealed that the driver of a 2005 Hyundai Tucson, while traveling eastbound through the parking lot of Featherstone Square, made a left turn into the path of a 2012 Chongqig Renegade Moped.

The driver of the moped was unable to stop and ultimately collided with the Hyundai. The driver of the moped was flown to an area hospital where he died from his injuries later in the evening.


The driver of the 2012 Chongqig Renegade Moped, the deceased, was identified as Ray A. DAUGHERTY, 53, of Woodbridge, VA

The driver of the 2005 Hyundai Tucson was identified as a 26 year old man of Charlotte, North Carolina. Investigation continues.

Paving to Close HOV Lanes

Now at the height of construction, a paving crew working on the 95 Express Lanes at Quantico uses a GPS assisted paving machine to lay the first new layers of asphalt. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

The HOV lanes on Interstate 95 and 395 will be close tonight and remain closed through this weekend for paving.

Here’s more in a press release from Virginia Megaprojects:

Continuing this weekend, Friday, August 16 through Sunday, August 18, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will implement closures along the I-395/I-95 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes as part of the 95 Express Lanes project. The mid-section of the HOV Lanes between Turkeycock (Edsall Road) and Newington (Exit 169) will remain closed all day Saturday. Crews will be milling (removing the top layer of old asphalt) and paving the existing HOV lanes throughout the Express Lanes Corridor. The following schedule will be in effect: Friday night, August 16 by 11 p.m.: Entire HOV lane facility closed from Washington, D.C. to Dumfries (Route 234).

Saturday morning, August 17 by 8 a.m.:

HOV lanes open to southbound traffic from Washington, D.C. to the Turkeycock (Edsall Road) exit where all southbound motorists must exit the HOV lanes and merge onto the I-395/I-95 general purpose lanes.

HOV lanes closed between Turkeycock (Edsall Road) and Exit 161, U.S. Route 1.

Southbound 95 motorists may reenter the HOV lanes just south of Route 1 exit via a new dedicated temporary left-lane slip ramp, which will be open only on Saturday mornings during construction, view map here.

Saturday afternoon, by 2 p.m.: HOV lanes closed for reversal operations.

Saturday afternoon, by 4 p.m.:

HOV lanes open northbound from Dumfries (Route 234) to Newington (Exit 169).

HOV lanes closed between Newington (Exit 169) and Turkeycock (Edsall Road).

Northbound traffic can reenter the HOV lanes at Turkeycock (Edsall Road).

Saturday night by 11 p.m.:Entire HOV facilityclosed from Dumfries (Route 234) to Washington D.C.

Sunday morning, August 18 by 10 a.m.: Entire HOV facility open to northbound traffic.

Crews will mill approximately two miles of the HOV lanes at a time and then repave with new asphalt, beginning at I-395 and Edsall Road and progress south on I-95 to Garrisonville Road. Crews will sweep milled surfaces to ensure the roadway is as smooth as possible, until paving is completed.

The milling and paving operations will continue through September. The work is necessary to prepare the HOV lanes for a traffic shift scheduled for this fall, and allow work on the new Express Lanes to advance.

Courthouse Road Reduced to 1 Lane Thursday & Friday

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Construction ongoing at a new neighborhood next to Colonial Forge High School will cause delays for drivers this week.

A section of 2-lane Courthouse Road in the area of the high school will be reduced to one lane on Thursday and Friday. Emergency officials in Stafford County told drivers Tuesday to pack their patience or find another way.

Several new neighborhoods are popping up along Courthouse Road, including Embrey Mill which will bring nearly 2,000 new homes to Stafford County in a newly planned community.

3 Lanes of I-95 at Franconia-Springfield Parkway Closing This Week

Now at the height of construction, a paving crew working on the 95 Express Lanes at Quantico uses a GPS assisted paving machine to lay the first new layers of asphalt. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Expect more lane closures this week on Interstate 95 north as part of the 95 Express Lanes Project.

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

Starting Monday night, August 12, through Saturday night, August 17, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will close three lanes on I-95 north for bridge work in the vicinity of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway (Route 289).

Beginning at 9 p.m. VDOT will close one lane at a time progressing to three lanes closed after midnight north of the Pohick Road overpass allowing one lane to get by the work area. All lanes open just past the Springfield Interchange.

This work is part of the 95 Express Lanes project. All work is weather permitting.

Woodbridge to Washington Passenger Ferry Service on Horizon

Passengers in Woodbridge board a test run of a passenger ferry service along the Potomac River in 2009. [Photo: Supervisor Frank Principi]

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Virginia’s transportation chief is ready to move forward with passenger ferry service from Woodbridge to Washington, D.C.

Sean Connaughton, the state’s Transportation Secretary, told Prince William officials on Tuesday that a commuter ferry service linking the two jurisdictions is closer now than ever before.

His comments come four years after elected officials and the press traveled an inaugural running of a Potomac River test ferry from Woodbridge to Washington during a public demonstration demonstration. There have also been as many as three studies to determine a demand for such a service.

“We are about to finish the third study…and we think we have been able to validate a market demand for a passenger ferry along three corridors: along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers,” Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi told Connaughton.

The results of the latest study are expected in early September. The next phase of a possible ferry service would be a three-year demonstration project to see if the service catches on with commuters. 

On a longtime wish list of transportation alternatives for the region, a passenger ferry service would most likely link commuters to job centers in Alexandria and Washington.

The state would acquire boats for the service, as well as fund much-needed parking spaces in Prince William County for commuters.

A 2009 report showed an anticipated cost for the ferry service would be $20 million, and the ferry would travel an average of 30 knots mph, about 35 mph.

“We’ll find a couple small, cheap boats, get this up and see how many start to potentially use it, and if it becomes viable, make it part of the transportation alternatives in the region,” said Connaughton.

Finding places for the ferries to dock will be another challenge for the state.

Because of new transportation funding legislation passed earlier this year, new sources of funding are now available for the ferry that weren’t there four years ago, and the ferry could be placed in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Six-Year Plan beginning next year.

‘Light’ Cargo Would be Carried on Bi-County Parkway Between Dumfries and Dulles

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton accomplished two things today.

First, he told Prince William elected officials that a Bi-County Parkway from Interstate 66 near Manassas to Dulles Airport, and its eventual connection to Va. 234 and Interstate 95 in Dumfries, would not be used to transport heavy cargo.

Second, he said completing the environmental impact study that could pave the way to constructing the new road should be complete before he leaves office in January, making room for the state’s next gubernatorial administration.

A legacy project, the Bi-County Parkway, which has been studied since 2001, and would link I-95 in Prince William County to Dulles Airport in Loudoun County, has polarized residents in the community due to fears of increased truck traffic along the highway, and the impacts it could have on residential neighborhoods and the Manassas National Battlefield Park, which sits along the route of where portion of the road would be built.

Connaughton said truckers hauling heavy cargo prefer to use U.S. 17 in Stafford County which connects with I-66 in Marhsall, Va. due to heavy traffic congestion between Frederickburg and Dumfries.

Lighter loads?

Instead of catering to heavy truck traffic, trucks would use the Bi-County Parkway to carry light freight from the international airport, Connaughton said. His statement today goes against months of “misinformation” that has sparked protests from those who don’t want increased truck traffic near their homes, as well as a Virginia Department of Transportation report authored in December that noted the roadway will be used as cargo route to move freight between I-95 to Dulles Airport.

“There are two types of cargo,” explained Connaughton. “This would be air cargo, low volume… seafood, flowers, microchips, things that are too high in value or time sensitive to be put on a ship.”

Tough crowd

That statement drew groans from a crowd that was overwhelmingly opposed to the highway, and a pelting of questions from Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland, who was threatened by Board Chairman Corey Stewart to have the number of his questions he was allowed to ask cut short and his microphone silenced.

“I’m sure you hear the frustration and disappointment in the room,” said Candland. “This Board is not here to solve state-level or regional problems, and we’re just representing the people who put us here to serve them.”

Trying to shake the groans, Connaughton at least twice held up his hand and demanded silence. Afterward, he told officials a new Bi-County Parkway would a major collector and connector roadway that would alleviate as much as 10% of traffic on I-66, and up to 15% of traffic on U.S. 15, and help make a faster trip for commuters trying to get to job centers in Louduon County.

Highway a tourism booster?

The roadway could also improve tourism.

“I don’t think the county sees the benefits of having the [Manassas National Battlefield Park] because of the large number of cars already sitting in congestion near the battlefield on weekends,” said Connaughton.

The Bi-County Parkway would also improve travel conditions inside the Battlefield Park, as construction of the new road would prompt the eventual closure of U.S. 29 and Va. 234 inside the park — a congested area bound by the confines of federally-preserved land.

Since the late 1980s, a Battlefield Bypass aimed at moving traffic around the congested crossroads has been talked about but never built.

Outer beltway already exists

Today, Connaughton said a new Bi-County Parkway would begin where Prince William Parkway (Va. 234) ends at I-66, and then run north along a 10.5-mile stretch of land made into a 4-lane, limited access freeway.

Putting the kibosh on some critics’ claims the roads would be an outer beltway, Connaughton said Maryland has no desire to build a new Potomac River bridge crossing.

“Route 15 is already an outer beltway. When people ask how to get around traffic congestion and truck traffic, many already say ‘go 15 up through Maryland’ to Point of Rocks,” Connaughton explained.

U.S. 15, Va. 28, and and Gum Spring Road remain the two most heavily used roads for commuters in Prince William to access Loudoun County.


This was the first time Connaugton — who once served as the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman until 2006 — had addressed a local governing Board since taking on the role of Transportation Secretary under Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009. Now in the waning days of his administration, Connaughton today assured Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi that, in addition to work on the Bi-County Parkway, the state is using existing funds to improve existing roads.

“I chuckle like a kid in a candy store when I think about the prospect of getting funding for all of these projects,” said Principi.

Including the Bi-County Parkway, Principi referred to transportation projects still under consideration like an expansion of Virginia Railway Express to Haymarket and the new Potomac Shores area in eastern Prince William and extending Metro to Woodbridge.

More funds, more roadway improvements

Connaughton touted new legislation passed this year by state lawmakers that is expected to provide an additional $7 billion in funding to the state’s six-year transportation plan.

“The great beneficiary is Prince William County. If you look at just county projects, $1 billion of the $14 billion [stemming from increased taxes from the recently passed transportation funding bill] are projects that will benefit this county,” said Connaughton. “These projects are long overdue.”

Roadway improvements like:

Widening I-66 from Gainesville to U.S. 15 in Haymarket

Widening Va. 28 from Linton Hall Road to Nokesville

U.S. 1 and Va. 123 interchange improvements

Va. 234 at Balls Ford Road improvements

Widening U.S. 1 in Dumfries

Shoulder widening on I-95

Improvements to Dale Boulevard

Have all been made possible by higher sales taxes used to fund road improvements, said Connaughton.

Major Construction Detours to Impact Jimmy Buffett Weekend, Delays Expected

GAINESVILLE, Va. — What do you get when you mix a major construction project and Jimmy Buffet? On the weekend of August 16 through 18, it’s a recipe for road delays.

Virginia Department of Transportation officials working to improve the intersection at U.S. 29 and Linton Hall Road, where a series new bridges will carry traffic on Linton Hall Road over U.S. 29 and a railroad, told drivers Wednesday to soon expect major delays in the area.

All the traffic in busy intersection will be reduced to one lane in each direction, on U.S. 29 and Linton Hall Road, so traffic can be shifted to a new bridge over the railroad. But major delays of up to an hour are expected over the weekend the work will take place, and officials have posted a detour, according to information presented at a town hall meeting last night:

– 8/16 9 PM

– Rt 29 NB Left & Right Turns Closed

– Rt 29 SB Left Turns Closed

– Linton Hall Rd WB Limited Lanes (Right, Left & Straight

– John Marshall Hwy WB closed and detoured via Catharpin movements permitted)

(Local traffic permitted to Dave’s Store Lane) Linton Hall & Rt 29 Intersection Construction

– 8/17

– Rt 29 NB moved into Stage 3 Configuration Single Lane early


– Midnight I66 WB to RT 29 SB ramp closed. Traffic detoured to Rt

– Rt 29 SB moved into Stage 3 Configuration Single Lane early morning

– Midday Linton Hall Rd & Rt 29 Signal would be reopened to its 29 NB Exit and allowed to make a left at the Rt 29 Signal.complete Stage 3 Configuration with the exception of single lane closures on RT 29 NB & SB.

– 8/17 Cont. & 8/18

– Construction of the Ramp G (I66 WB to RT 29 SB) detour would begin immediately following the closure of the existing ramp and the moving of SB Rt 29 into the Stage 3 Configuration.

Construction of this Detour is anticipated to be completed on 8/18

“There has been a lot of planning on VDOT’s part and the contractor’s part, and we’re asking for for everyone’s patience,” said Mike Trabucco, a spokesman for Shirley Contractors, the firm overseeing construction of the project.

Nearby the construction area sits Jiffy Lube Live, one of the region’s largest outdoor concert venues. It’s here, on the weekend when the detours are planned, that singer Jimmy Buffett will make his annual pilgrimage to the Jiffy Lube stage, drawing thousands of fans to the concert venue.

VDOT officials hope drivers heed the warnings and plan to take another route. Instead of using Linton Hall Road to Wellington Road to access Jiffy Lube Live, a better route around the mess from Interstate 66 would be Prince William Parkway to Balls Ford Road, to Wellington Road.

The new $267 million bridge over the railroad and U.S. 29 will be completely finished by this fall. Two new bridges — one that will carry traffic on U.S. 29 over railroad tracks and another that will carry traffic on Va. 55 (John Marshall Highway, which intersects with Linton Hall Road at U.S. 29) over railroad tracks — should open sometime next year.

Currently, U.S. 29 crosses the railroad and it’s often a site where vehicles both big that are sitting on the a railroad crossing and small are hit by trains, including the latest accident last week. No one was injured, and signs have been posted at the intersection warning drivers not to stop on the tracks.

HOV Lanes Closing, Opening 1 Hour Earlier Middays

Virginia Transportation officials announced upcoming changes to the HOV lanes on Interstate 95.

Starting Aug. 5, they’ll close to northbound drivers an hour earlier in the mornings and open to southbound drivers one hour earlier each weekday.

More in a press release from Virginia Megaprojects:

Beginning August 5,the reversible high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on northbound I-395/95 will close during the week at 10 a.m. rather than 11 a.m., and the southbound HOV lanes will open at noon rather than 1 p.m.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, the change is in effect until mid-October to help ease southbound congestion during construction of the 95 Express Lanes, the 95 Shoulder Lane project in Prince William County, and BRAC related work in the I-395/Seminary Road area along with routine summer road maintenance.

The new operational hours for the lanes comes as construction are working on the 95 Express Lanes, which should open to drivers late 2014 or early 2015.

During the hour that the HOV facility is closed each weekday, transportation crews check the reversible lanes between Dumfries and the Pentagon to ensure all of the northbound traffic has cleared the lanes, to make way for southbound drivers for the afternoon commute.

95 Express Lanes Construction Shifts into High Gear, Drivers Face Worst of the Headaches

Now at the height of construction, a paving crew working on the 95 Express Lanes at Quantico uses a GPS assisted paving machine to lay the first new layers of asphalt. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

The first layers of new pavement for the 95 Express Lanes Project are on the ground. And with them comes a mean season for summer drivers.

New asphalt lies in the median of Interstate 95 at Quantico and in northern Stafford County, where there once was no road. It’s part of what will be 29 miles of new highway, or the tolled 95 Express Lanes, that when complete in late 2014, will seamlessly connect with similar lanes on the Capital Beltway from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road.

Construction of the new lanes, which will extend from Va. 610 in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Alexandria when complete, is at its height. But despite traffic headaches along the construction zone now, Transportation officials maintain all of this work will literally pave the way to a smoother commute in the very near next year.

“We’ve always said 2013 is going to be the toughest year for the project while we work on the new bridges, ramps, and flyovers,” said Virginia Megaprojects spokesman Steve Titunik. “Once we get those done, things will be easier on motorists.”

A major project

Work on the lanes began swiftly last summer when, after years of wrangling with elected officials, and working out agreements with the private firm that will operate and maintain the lanes Transubran, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell gave the green light for construction.

Of the four segments of the project, the first 8.3-mile segment of the project from Va. 610 in Stafford to Va. 234 in Dumfries, will include seven new bridges, and a new northbound slip ramp will be added to allow drivers access to the new express lanes just past Va. 610. And, probably the most impressive sight of the construction so far, two new flyovers are under construction — one at Joplin Road and the other at Va. 610 — will carry southbound traffic from the express lanes to the regular travel lanes of I-95 south.

When the nearly $1 billion project is complete, the lanes will still be reversible — meaning they will carry northbound traffic each morning to Alexandria and points north, and southbound traffic each afternoon — they’ll also allow single drivers to use the lanes at all times of the day provided they pay a electronic toll using an E-ZPass. Those riding in vehicles of three or more occupants will be able to ride free in the lanes, which will be tolled 24-hours a day. And, just like they do on express lanes on the Capital Beltway, tolls will vary per mile, will adjust with the volume of traffic on the road (the more cars in the express lanes the higher the toll will be), and will be collected by electronic transponders which will read look for an E-ZPass mounted to the windshield of a car and then automatically deduct the toll from a bank account.

Wider lanes north of Prince William Parkway

Of the four segments of the project, 75% of the lanes is existing roadway that for years has served as High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. But they too are being improved.

While segment two, from Va. 234 to Prince William Parkway, will remain mostly the same width, segments three and four, from of Prince William Parkway to Edsall Road, will see the addition of a third lane, new slip ramps at Dale Boulevard, Prince William Parkway, and Lorton, and a new flyover constructed at Edsall Road.

There’s also major bridge work with the project, as this week crews are working on improving at bridge in the area of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway in Fairfax County, and, on the southern end of the project, still working on rebuilding a bridge that carries traffic on Telegraph Road over I-95 at Quantico Marine Corps Base.

As more people move into the region, this roadwork is long overdue.

“As this area continues to grow, and more cars on the roadways add more fuel to the fire, the better we provide a basket of transportation options, and improve services, the more choices people will have,” said Titunik.

Hopes for expanded transit options

The new lanes come with thousands of new commuter parking spaces at lots in Spotsylvania, Stafford, Prince William, and Fairfax counties. With the lanes expanded and catering to carpoolers, Titunik said hopes are that more people choose to ride buses, or form carpools instead of driving alone.

The entire 29-mile section of the 95 Express Lanes under construction is considered the “northern” section of the project. The “southern” half, which would extend the lanes from North Stafford to Spotsylvania County, could be years away.

Pushing back the bottleneck

With these new lanes, the bottleneck on southbound I-95 at Dumfries, where the HOV lanes now merge with the regular lanes — one of the worst bottlenecks in the Washington, D.C. area — will be pushed further south to Stafford. Planners say the flyover ramp at Va. 610, when finished, will allow traffic to re-enter the highway from the right side of the road as opposed to from the left, as it does now in Dumfries.

The new flyover ramp, however, will dump traffic onto the highway just before Va. 610, and that could cause some slowdowns as drivers try to merge. For those getting off the highway and onto Va. 610, there will be a continuous lane from the flyover ramp to the exit for Va. 610.

“The important thing to remember, overall, is that will not be the terminus of the project as there are plans to extend the lanes south to Spotsylvania,” said Titunik.

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Steel beams will support a bridge deck as part of a new flyover at Joplin Road at Quantico, as part of the new 95 Express Lanes. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Detour Planned as Aden Bridge Work Continues

(Photo: Mary Davidson/

NOKESVILLE, Va. — On Aden Road in Prince William County’s Nokesville area, construction crews will be back at it in an effort to replace a bridge along the two-lane road.

More in a press release from VDOT:

Aden Road (Route 646) will be closed to traffic between Parkgate Drive and Orlando Road from 3 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 until 5 a.m.Monday, Aug. 5, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. The closure will allow crews to continue demolition of the bridge over Cedar Run.

The closure will require motorists to follow a detour. Message signs are positioned on Aden Road advising motorists of the upcoming closure.

Construction began in May and will be completed in early December. Shirley Contracting is the contractor for the $2.2 million bridge replacement. Aden Road carries about 3,000 vehicles per day on weekends.

HOV Lanes Closing, Crews to Finish Steel on Telegraph Road Bridge

Construction crews are set to lay the final steel beams for a new bridge that will carry traffic across Interstate 95 via Telegraph Road in North Stafford. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — Construction crews this weekend will finish what they started last weekend. New steel beams will be erected at a bridge at Telegraph Road in North Stafford.

With the new steel will come delays on along a portion of Interstate 95 where the work will take place. Drivers wills be detoured off the highway and onto U.S. 1 both Friday and Saturday nights.

More in a press release:

I-95 North and South Nighttime Closure Schedule:

I-95 North: Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27, Multiple lane closures and traffic stoppages at Route 610 (Garrisonville Road):

Single lane closed, Friday and Saturday nights, at 10:30 p.m.

Two lanes closed, Friday and Saturday nights, at 11:30 p.m. All lanes open by 9 a.m.

Full closure of all I-95 northbound lanes for intermittent periods of up to 30 minutes between midnight and 7 a.m.

I-95 South: Sunday, July 28 and Monday, July 29, Multiple lane closures and detour, near Exit 148, Quantico:

Single lane closed, Sunday and Monday nights, at 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Two lanes closed, Sunday and Monday nights, between 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Full closure of all I-95 southbound lanes, detour in effect, Sunday and Monday nights, between 1 a.m. – 3 a.m.

Detour: I-95 southbound traffic will be detoured to Exit 148, USMC Quantico, (Russell Road) east to Route 1 south to Garrisonville Road, (Route 610) and back to I-95 south.

Traffic signals will be adjusted along the detour route to maintain optimum traffic flow. Police and safety service patrols will be on-hand for drivers safety. All work is weather dependent.

In addition to the closures at Telegraph Road in Stafford County, transportation officials said the entire HOV facility along I-95 and 395 will close Friday night and will reopen Saturday.

More in a press release:

I-395/95 HOV Weekend Lane Closure Schedule

Friday night, July 26, by 11 p.m.: Entire HOV lane facility closed from Washington, D.C. to Dumfries (Route 234).

Saturday morning, July 27, by 10 a.m.:

— HOV lanes open to southbound traffic from Washington, D.C. to the Turkeycock exit (Edsall Road) where all commuters must exit the HOV lanes and merge onto the I-395/95 south lanes.

— HOV lanes closed between Turkeycock (Edsall Road) and Exit 161, U.S, Route 1.

— Southbound 95 drivers may re-enter the HOV lanes just south of Route 1 exit via a new dedicated temporary left-lane slip ramp, which will be open only on Saturday mornings during construction, view map here.

Saturday afternoon, by 2 p.m.: HOV lanes closed to reverse the direction of the HOV lanes.

Saturday afternoon, by 4 p.m.: HOV lanes open north bound from Dumfries (Route 234) to Washington, D.C.

Saturday night, by 11 p.m.: HOV lanes closed from Dumfries (Route 234) to Washington, D.C.

Sunday morning, by 10 a.m.: HOV lanes open to northbound traffic.

Officials Back Manassas Battlefield Bypass


PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The plan for a Manassas Battlefield Bypass is simple: get the traffic out of the national park and off of hallowed ground.

The highway was approved in 1988 but is still awaiting funding. If it’s built, it would alleviate congestion on a 2-lane portion of U.S. 29 through the Manassas National Battlefield Park, taking cars out of the civil war battleground and routing them instead along a new limited-access highway that would run from the intersection of Va. 234 bypass (Prince William Parkway) and Interstate 66, and then north along the existing Pageland Lane to Va. 234 (Sudley Road) in Catharpin, and then along what would be a new portion of road along Bull Run Post Office Road to reconnect drivers with U.S. 29 in Fairfax County.

“The ultimate goal would be to close Route 234 and Route 29 inside the park,” said Manassas National Battlefield Superintendent Ed Clark.

Another much-talked about roadway — the Bi-County Parkway (between Prince William and Loudoun counties) — remains a part of the North-South Corridor cargo route from Dumfries to Dulles International Airport currently being studied, complicates things. This project has devided area residents who want traffic relief and those who want to preserve the past, and their rural homes.

“The likelihood of the Manassas Battlefield Bypass and the Bi-County Parkway and the Bi-County Parkway being built at the same time is not likely,” said Clark.

The Battlefield Bypass would cost just over $300 million and would better serve commuters who move in and out of Prince William County through the park, as well as development happening in neighboring Loudoun County, said Clark.

In 2005, Prince William County officials passed a resolution to support construction of the bypass and not close Va. 234 / U.S. 29 inside the park until the new roadway is built. Earlier this month, Board of Supervisors reaffirmed that decision with a new resolution that upholds their 2005 decision.

An agreement with state and National Park Service officials would allow for the closure of U.S. 29 and Va. 234 inside the park if a Bi-County Parkway is built on a portion of park land. 

Without the new roadway, and as traffic volumes in along U.S. 29 inside the park worsen, Clark said traffic calming measures are needed, such as narrower lanes and fewer straightways which lead to drivers reducing speeds inside the park during non-rush hour times.

Talk of the North-South Corridor has drowned out the need for the Manassas Battlefield Bypass. Opponents of it’s Bi-County Parkway have lumped in the Battlefield Bypass with this project, as both projects — the Battlefield Bypass and the Bi-County Parkway — each call for widening Pageland Lane, where various homes now sit.

The North-South corridor remains important to the Virginia Department of Transportation and area business leaders who maintain Dulles could increase the amount of cargo freight at its facility if the highway is built, linking the airport to I-95.

To show how important the corridor is, on Wednesday, state transportation officials announced Tom Fahrney as manager of Special Project Development for Northern Virginia which includes the Bi-County Parkway Study.

“Tom brings the transportation planning and organizational skills needed to assist in the development of complex projects that involve a multitude of stakeholders and special interests,” said Helen Cuervo, district administrator for VDOT in Northern Virginia in a press release. “His experience in developing complex projects and resolving stakeholder issues will serve him well in his new role.”

Fahrney worked to develop agreements with Metro and the Virginia Department of Rail and Transportation during the early stages of the Silver Line through Tysons Corner.


Crash Involving School Bus Impacts Bristow Road Drivers

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

BRISTOW, Va. — A school bus was involved in a crash at the intersection of Bristow Road and Gallop Lane this afternoon, near Bristow Manor Golf Club.

There were no students on the bus at the time of the crash, and the driver of the second vehicle involved in the crash was treated at the scene, stated Prince William County Public Schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer.

Police warned drivers to expect delays in the area and to use an alternate route.

Delays, Detour Expected I-95 South at Telegraph Road Bridge Work

[Photo: VDOT]

QUANTICO, Va. — Yes, Interstate 95 south at Quantico closed during the overnight hours last weekend And, it’ll close again this weekend, too.

Virginia Department of Transportation officials plan to close a southbound portion of the highway in North Stafford at 9:30 p.m. Friday so crews can lay steel for a new bridge that crosses the highway.

The bridge carries traffic on Telegraph Road from U.S. 1 to a back gate to Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Here’s more information from VDOT:

Weather permitting, on Friday night, July 19, through Sunday night July 21, starting each night at 9:30 p.m., the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will begin to close lanes on I-95 south near Exit 148, Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ). Following the single and multiple lane closures, crews will progress to a full closure of I-95 south by 1 a.m. until 4 a.m., Saturday morning; 1 a.m. until 5 a.m., Sunday morning; and 1 a.m. until 3 a.m. Monday morning.

This closure will allow crews to safely lift steel beams into place for the new Telegraph Road Bridge over the I-95 southbound lanes in Quantico.

Detour via Russell Road (Exit 148, MCBQ) to U.S. Rte. 1


• All I-95 southbound traffic will be directed to Exit 148, MCBQ, to U.S. Route 1 south to Garrisonville Road (Route 610) and back onto I-95 South. Police will be on-site and traffic- signal timing will be adjusted to assist with this detour.

• Motorists may experience up to 25 minutes additional travel time.

• Lanes will begin to open one at a time when overnight detours end, with all lanes restored by 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings, July 20-21, and by 5 a.m. Monday morning, July 22.

Once steel operations for the new Telegraph Road Bridge over I-95 south are complete, crews will move to the I-95 northbound side where work is scheduled for the weekend of July 26, with 30 min traffic stoppages in all lanes after midnight.

As part of the 95 Express Lanes Project, motorists should also expect nightly lane closures, Mondays through Saturdays, and extended HOV lane closures during the day on Saturdays, throughout the summer.


Options Sought on Dealing with Increased Ethanol Truck Traffic

[Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

DUMFRIES, Va. — Increased truck traffic with tankers carrying ethanol has become an issue facing commuters, residents, and Dumfries town officials and residents.

The trucks would travel from U.S. 1 in Dumfries to the winding, 2-lane Possum Point Road to a Nustar Energy facility on the connecting Cockpit Point Road.

On Possum Point Road, residents’ homes line the street. On U.S. 1, traffic is already congested, and the increased truck traffic would mean at least 50 trucks per day traveling in and out of the town.

“You bring the word ‘ethanol ‘in, and you say increased traffic, and then it becomes a viable topic of conversation,” said Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman at a recent transportation summit held with members of town staff and officials, Virginia Department of Transportation officials, and a company representative from NuStar who asked Potomac Local News not to name him in our story.

Prince William County officials announced last year that the NuStar Energy facility would begin offloading ethanol — used to fuel vehicles — from trains, and then put it on trucks for delivery. Since the plant was built in 1978 and originally used as a concrete facility, a NuStar company representative said the facility has always stored petrol products.

Prince William County officials told NuStar that the company must apply for a special use permit, and have it approved, before ethanol can be transported from the facility. NuStar is currently appealing that decision.

Nearby where trucks would travel, a new road — Potomac Shores Parkway — is planned. It will connect commuters with a new neighborhood of nearly 4,000 new homes in a neighborhood under construction along the Potomac River near Dumfries, called Potomac Shores. The new parkway would intersect near Possum Point Road, at U.S. 1 and Va. 234.

Foreman has called for connecting Cockpit Point Road to what will be a wider Potomac Shores Parkway and allowing the trucks to travel along that road and avoid the narrow 2-lane Possum Point Road.

A NuStar company representative told Foreman he had no opinion on the plan.

As for officials at VDOT, they said it may be too late in the initial design process of Potomac Shores Parkway to add a connection.

“I don’t know how far you can go since Potomac Shores has already gone through the public involvement process [for the Potomac Shores Parkway design]. Even if the applicant would want to go forward with that, the public may have some issues with that plan,” said VDOT’s Maria Sinner.

Along with nearly 4,000 new homes, Potomac Shores will also have three public schools and a host of soccer fields and other parks drawing children and families to the area, according to plans released by Calif.-based Potomac Shores developer SunCal.

“Knowing the public’s reaction to truck traffic, that is not something the public is likely to endorse,” added Sinner.

Steel in Place for Express Lanes Flyover Ramp

Steel beams were hoisted in place for a new flyover ramp at Quantico that will carry southbound drivers on the new Express Lanes to I-95. [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

QUANTICO, Va. — Steel beams are in place after a weekend of closures of southbound of Interstate 95 at Quantico.

Crews constructing the 95 Express Lanes from Alexandria to North Stafford focused their attention on a new flyover ramp that will carry drivers from the new Express lanes in the median of the highway to the travel lanes of I-95 south.

The new flyover is one of three new flyover ramps being built as part of the 29-mile project to transform the existing reversible HOV lanes to toll lanes. Another new flyover is being built prior to Va. 610 in North Stafford, and it too will carry traffic from the Express Lanes to the southbound travel lanes of I-95. A flyover ramp is also being built north of Edsall Road that will carry northbound drivers to the travel lanes of I-395 north.

New steel will also be put in place as part of a new bridge that will carry traffic on Telegraph Road in North Stafford over I-95. Officials say drivers can expect highway closures for that project later this summer.

When the Express Lanes are completed in 2015, those with three or more occupants inside their vehicles will be able to ride the lanes for free with an E-Z Pass Flex, while single drivers with an E-Z Pass or E-Z Pass Flex will be able to use the lanes for a fee.

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