Traffic & Transit

Telegraph Road Bridge to Close for 9 Months

A two-lane bridge that carries traffic on Telegraph Road over I-95 in North Stafford will be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate High Occupancy Toll lanes on the highway below. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

QUANTICO, Va. — The two-lane bridge that carries traffic to and from U.S. 1 to Quanitco Marine Corps Base via Telegraph Road will close for nine months starting March 27.

Here’s more information in a press release about the upcoming closure, which is part of the 95 Express Lanes Project:

[Image: VDOT]

[Image: VDOT]

The 95 Express Lanes project will close the Telegraph Road bridge over I-95 near Quantico for approximately nine months on or about March 27, 2013, weather permitting. This closure will allow crews to safely remove and build a new Telegraph Road bridge that will span over I-95 and the future 95 Express Lanes located in the median.   

Detour

During the approximate nine-month closure, all Telegraph Road traffic will be detoured to Russell Road or U.S. Route 1 to access both north and southbound I-95.

What Drivers Can Expect

Motorists can expect additional travel time during peak AM and PM rush of 5 – 8 minutes when using the Russell Road or Route 1 detours to access I-95 or Telegraph Road.

Construction Details

Crews will close Telegraph Road on both sides of the bridge at I-95 to set-up work zones. In order to safely remove the current structure, nighttime demolition will occur with multiple lanes closed on I-95 north and south. Total bridge demolition will take approximately one month to complete. Once the structure is removed, crews will prepare the area for daytime pile driving for new bridge foundation construction. The new Telegraph Road bridge will reopen to traffic in late 2013.

New 95 Express Lanes Should Speed Up Tysons Commute

Dear Mega Mike, 

I work in Tysons Corner. How will the Express Lanes on 95 help me get work faster?

Shirley Azul
Woodbridge, Va. 

Dear Shirley, 

The 95 Express Lanes will connect seamlessly to the 495 Express Lanes resulting in a more predictable trip.  The Express Lanes operator guarantees a minimum of 45 mph, so the trip will be faster than the congested traffic on the general purpose lanes during rush hour. 

Recently the Tysons Express buses from Prince William County have revised their schedule with an average 17 minute time savings because travel on the 495 Express Lanes.

Mike Salmon
Virginia Megaprojects 

Marine Corps 17.75 K Run Bringing Lane Closures

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PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Marine Corp’s 17.75 K run will be held Saturday in the Dumfries and Quantico areas, and traffic officials warn your drive may be impacted.

Lane closures for the event will begin at 5 a.m. as the right and center lanes of Va. 234 between Waterway Drive and Van Buren Road will close. The race starts at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Van Buren Road and Va. 234, near the Holiday Inn Quantico Center, said Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Art Klos. The race will then head into Prince William Forest Park.

Prince William police will be on hand to help direct traffic, and message boards and traffic will be placed alongside Va. 234 to warn drivers of the traffic impacts.

After runners complete all 11.3 miles of the course, they’ll cross finish line is located within the national park.

CLICK HERE to see a full map of the marathon route. 

 

 

VDOT Adding Auxiliary Lanes, Widening Shoulders on I-95

I-95 south in Woodbridge. (Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Transportation officials say they will work to improve your commute on the main lanes of Interstate 95 in Prince William County.

This work will be separate from the ongoing project to convert HOV lanes into toll lanes between Dumfries and Edsall Road in Alexandria.

More in a press release:

Construction begins April 1 on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s $40 million project to construct auxiliary lanes and widen the shoulders on a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Prince William County. The project is designed to ease several chokepoints, add capacity during emergencies, and reduce weaving and merging.

The inside and outside shoulders between Dumfries Road and the Prince William Parkway will be widened, both north and southbound, to 12 feet with full-depth pavement to make the shoulders suitable for traffic use during accidents, evacuation, enforcement and detours. New guardrail and lighting also will be added.

Auxiliary lanes will be constructed at three locations to create safer access and merging, particularly at the truck scale area. To create the auxiliary lane, crews will extend the acceleration and deceleration lanes between on- and off-ramps.

On I-95 South, auxiliary lanes will connect the Opitz Boulevard on-ramp with the Prince William Parkway off-ramp, as well as the truck rest area on-ramp with the off-ramp to Route 234.

On I-95 North, an auxiliary lane will connect the Dumfries Road on-ramp with the truck weigh station off-ramp.

Lane Construction is the contractor for the project which will be complete in August 2015. Most of the work will take place at night or behind barriers to minimize disruptions. All lane closures will be coordinated with the 95 Express Lanes project.

Storage Issues at D.C.’s Union Station a ‘Tetris Puzzle’ Preventing VRE Changes

STAFFORD, Va. — At a meeting that drew just three participants concerned about the future of Virginia’s only commuter railroad, higher fares, wifi, and trains packed with riders were top of mind issues.

Virginia Railway Express held the public meeting in advance of a proposed 4% fare hike that could take effect July 1. With it, the cost of single ride tickets and monthly passes would go up.

But crowded rail cars were on the minds of some who spoke, especially the cars on VRE’s morning express train 300 which leaves Fredericksburg at 5:05 a.m. on weekdays, serves stops in Stafford County and the Woodbridge VRE station, but doesn’t stop again until Alexandria. Some mornings the train is standing room only by the time it reaches stops in Stafford County, said Will Morrison of Falmouth.

VRE stores trains after their morning runs at Washington’s Union Station. With little additional storage room at the busy rail hub, adding more trains, or changing the number of rail cars per train to ease capacity, is not an option any time soon.

“If we could show you what a Tetris puzzle we have in the storage yard at Washington Union, we have to fit so many train sets into the storage yard…if it were a matter of changing around some trains, or adding some cars to different ones, we would have done that already,” said VRE Deputy CEO Richard Dalton.

Riders also told VRE’s top brass that Slug lines – where occupants ride in vehicles of three or more for free on Virginia’s 495 Express Lanes and I-95’s HOV lanes — is becoming a faster, more attractive option than the train. The carpool lanes are being expanded on I-95 as the HOV lanes from Dumfries to Edsall Road in Alexandria are being converted to HOV/toll lanes and extended south to Stafford County.

But there are the VRE faithful who ride religiously, like Roderick Burke of Stafford who pays out of pocket $89 per month to ride at least three times per week, and has an employer that doesn’t cover the full cost of his VRE ride as many federal agencies do.

Roderick, who also slugs some days, calls his time on the train relaxing. But he would like to see wireless internet services, or wifi, added to VRE so he could pop open his laptop and get more work done.

Wireless access on VRE has been talked about for years, but it’s a service VRE Chief Doug Allen said hasn’t been rolled out yet because the connection was not robust enough. Additionally, when wireless service does come to VRE, the transit agency would like to spend $1.2 million to install wireless services on all of their rail cars.

New Tysons Corner Express Service Starting in Lorton

031711 Fairfax Connector

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Headed to Tysons Corner during the week?

Fairfax Connector has some new express transportation options for you, but you’ll have to plan to catch the bus in areas of southeast Fairfax like Lorton and Springfield.

All of the new routes will use the 495 Express Lanes to bypass congestion on the Capital Beltway.

More in a press release:

Effective Monday, March 18, 2013, Fairfax Connector will start two new express routes, modify three existing routes and increase the number of bus stops served on an existing route. Modifications are being made to better serve passenger needs and improve on-time performance. Routes affected are: 333, 334, 372, 493(F, G, J, M), 494(F, G, J, M) and 495(F, G, J, M).

The new express routes are Route 493(F, G, J, M) from Lorton VRE Station and Saratoga Park and Ride to Tysons, and Route 494(F, G, J, M) from Franconia-Springfield Metro Station and Greater Springfield to Tysons. Bus routes will use the 495 Express Lanes and have four circulations, serving many major employers in the Tysons area. An express fare of $3.65 SmarTrip® or $4 cash applies. An introductory free ride period is in effect between March 18 and April 12 for the two new express routes (493 and 494).

New Routes

• Route 493: Lorton VRE and Saratoga Park and Ride to Tysons

– Circulations:

>>F (Full Tysons circulation)

>> G (Greensboro circulation)

>> J (Jones Branch circulation)

>> M (McLean circulation)

• Route 494: Franconia-Springfield Metro Station to Tysons

– Circulations:

>> F (Full Tysons circulation)

>> G (Greensboro circulation)

>>J (Jones Branch circulation)

>> M (McLean circulation)

Modified Routes

• Route 333: Modifies routing to use the Franconia-Springfield Parkway during rush hour, reducing travel time and improving on-time performance

• Route 334: Modified morning routing to travel southbound along Cinder Bed Road and northbound along Fairfax County Parkway; and afternoon routing to travel southbound along the Fairfax County Parkway and northbound along Cinder Bed Road.

• Route 372: Adds rush-hour service to the Patriot Ridge Office Campus on morning southbound trips and afternoon northbound trips.

• Route 495(F, G, J, M): Adds service to all bus stops along route between Burke VRE Station and Wakefield Chapel Road.

 

Ask Mega Mike: Who Needs an E-Z Pass to Use the Express Lanes?

Dear Mega Mike,

I slug to work and ride in carpools. Will everyone in my carpool need an EZ Pass, or is the just the driver who needs one? How will they work?

Michael Leviathan
Stafford, Va.

Dear Michael,  

Only one E-Zpass per car will be required for carpools. The E-ZPass Flex works like a regular E-ZPass, but lets you switch between HOV and toll paying modes.

If your E-ZPass Flex is switched to HOV mode and you have three or more passengers in the car, you will not be charged a toll. The switchable E-ZPass Flex pays tolls on any other road that accepts E-ZPass, regardless of the position of the switch.

State Troopers funded by the project will be stationed in the Express Lanes to make sure those travelers who have switched to carpool mode have three people in the car.

Mike Salmon
Virginia Megaprojects 

Hearing on VRE Fare Increase Set for Wednesday

121212 VRE

STAFFORD, Va. — The fare you pay to ride Virginia Railway Express could be going up.

A public hearing is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Stafford County Government Center’s conference room ABC where commuter railroad officials will gauge reaction to plans to hike fares as much as 4% staring in July.

The meeting was rescheduled from last Wednesday because of the storm that brought seven inches of snow to Stafford County.

VRE cites rising contract costs with service providers Keolis Rail Services of America, Amtrak, and CSX, as for the need to increase fares. The fare increase was recommended as a part of a budget review that will keep trains running at current levels, add an additional 10-car train to the system’s crowded Fredericksburg line, fund the purchase of new rail cars, and fund the opening of a new train station in Spotsylvania County.

If the new fares are approved for both of VRE’s train lines from Fredericksburg and Manassas, those riding from Fredericksburg to Washington’s Union Station would pay $11.10 for a one-way fare, $305.90 for a monthly pass. Those riding from Manassas to Union Station would pay $9.10 for a single ride, $250.80 for a monthly pass.

See the full proposed fare schedule for the Fredericksburg Line

See the full proposed fare schedule for the Manassas Line

 

131-Year-Old Bridge Getting Face Lift, Adjacent Span

>>Aden Road Truss Bridge 

By URIAH KISER

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va.  — A 131-year-old bridge is about to get a face lift and a new companion.

Big plans are in store for the single-lane Aden Road truss bridge that carries cars over the Norfolk Southern Railroad in Nokesville. Soon, a new bridge span will be built next to the old one and, for the first time, two lanes of traffic will be able to cross over the railroad tracks at once and connect with Va. 28 to head to north Manassas or south to Fauquier County.

The project is expected to cost $4.6 million, and building a new bridge next to the old one is one of 10 options the Virginia Department of Transportation considered when coming up with a new traffic plan for the area.

After the new bridge span is built, traffic on to Aden Road coming from Va. 28 will cross the old 1882 truss bridge, while traffic on Aden Road headed to Va. 28 will use the new span.

The wrought-iron truss bridge is structurally deficient and inefficient, as only one car can cross the bridge at a time. And because the steel is ridden with corrosion, it’ll have to rehabilitated with new steel shapes, cables, and bolts so it can accommodate legal heavy truck loads. VDOT said they cannot use wrought-iron because it simply isn’t widely available anymore, and is now mostly used in ornamental displays.

The bridge, which was placed on the National Historic Register in 1977, has a wooden deck that was the center of concern when the bridge was closed for a little over a month in 2007. Timber became loose, and the owner of the bridge – Norfolk Southern Railroad –replaced the wood which allowed vehicles to cross it once more.

The wooden bridge deck was also repaired again in 2011, the second repair since the 2007 closing, according to VDOT documents. VDOT is charged with monitoring and inspecting the bridge.

Norfolk Southern would like to donate the bridge to another locality as it limits the height of trains that can pass underneath, as well as prohibits the addition of new track underneath in railroad right of way, VDOT documents state.

There was talk of moving the bridge to another location nearby Nokesville Community Park, but it appears that plan is no longer in the cards.

It wouldn’t be the first time the bridge has been moved, either. It was moved to its current location sometime between 1904 and 1928, according to VDOT.

And the bridge is dangerous: 19 crashes have been reported at the bridge since 2000, with eight injuries and no fatalities. Many of the crashes involved either head on or rear end collisions.

A public hearing on the new bridge is scheduled this spring, said VDOT Transportation and Land Use Director Maria Sinner. Construction of the new bridge and rehab of the old truss crossing should begin in early 2014 with a completion slated for later that summer.

Questions on Metro to Woodbridge Can’t Be Answered Without Study

By MARK DUDENHEFER
Delegate, 2nd District 

On Tuesday, March 5, Congressman Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran introduced legislation to study the extension of Metrorail from Franconia-Springfield to eastern Prince William County. The extension would include an addition to the Blue Line along Interstate 95 through Woodbridge to Potomac Mills, and the Yellow Line down the U.s. 1 corridor in Prince William County.

I am proud to support their efforts to authorize a project development analysis on the extension.

This study would allow us to analyze the long term economic impact, value for taxpayers, questions over costs, and other information to make well informed decisions on the extension. It is a practical common sense endeavor. The Metrorail extension may not be a solution, and funding road construction is always the first priority. However, we can’t firmly answered the questions without a study.

Recently, I also sat down with the Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton to outline potential mass transit projects, lane additions, and widening of major traffic veins in the area. We have voted for and addressed the funding gaps at the state level.

It is now time to work at all levels of government to prioritize projects and investments that benefit Virginia citizens. With funding from the transportation bill, we will concentrate on widening of U.s. 1 and I-95, needed repairs and safety improvements on secondary roads, using technology to improve traffic flow at peak hours, and exploring alternative transportation resources. With growth in the region expected to continue I am ready join and be a leader in that conversation.

Transportation congestion and safety are issues that we can no longer avoid in the Second District and Northern Virginia. That is why it is necessary to study each alternative and invest in our infrastructure. Virginians are tired of politics as usual and are looking for efficient, cost effective, and cooperative ways to alleviate these issues.

 

Ask Mega Mike: On and Off Points for the 95 Express Lanes?

In his Potomac Local News debut, Virginia Megaprojects Mike “Mega Mike” Salmon takes your questions on all things Megaprojects – from the 95 Express Lanes Project to Metro rail to Dulles Airport – he’ll help you understand what’s happening to improve your commute, and to tell you what you need to know before you go.

Send your questions to the Virginia Megaprojects Mega Man and find out what’s new with your commute! Be sure to include your full name and town.

Dear Megaprojects Mega Mike,

I heard they’re building new on and off ramps for the 95 Express Lanes. Where will I be able to get on and off of the lanes?

Crissy Smith 
Woodbridge, Va. 

Dear Crissy, 
That’s easy, take a look at this updated 95 Express Lanes map that shows all of the access points that will be built along the highway facility’s span, from Va. 610 in Garrisonville to Edsall Road in Alexandria.

Mike Salmon
Virginia Megaprojects 

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‘Rogue Drivers’ Prompt Stafford Cab Companies to Ask for Government Regulation

[Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD, Va. — At least two cab companies in Stafford want to be regulated by the county government.

Owners of Global Cab and Airport Taxi told elected officials on the Stafford Board of County Supervisors they run reputable operations with drivers who work as independent contractors. But they say with no rules governing prices or how fares are metered, there are so-called rogue drivers who can quickly set up shop, pick up passengers, and charge unexpected high fares.

“I cannot run a biz in this kind business when anyone can come in…and then open a taxi business,” said Airport Taxi owner Bashir Malik.

He added that some of the drivers he has hired have split off to start their own companies, and they charge whatever they fare they deem fit. Owners said it all comes without any rules set forth by the county to govern fares – rules that are in place in area jurisdictions like Fredericksburg, Fairfax, and Alexandria.

“The owners and operators of cab companies in Stafford came and asked to be regulated, which I find a bit odd because most companies don’t want to be regulated by the government,” said Stafford County Griffis-Widewater Supervisor Jack Cavalier.

The Board of Supervisors agreed to ask county staff, as well as committees on public safety and roads, to review any policies in place that regulate cabs in the county, as well as come up with any new polices that could crack down on drivers who charge too much.

“We need to look at some sort of regulation that prevents passengers from being picked up late at night and being charged $50 for what normally would have been a $10 fare,” said Cavalier.

Global Cab owner Doug Overvolt said he wants to see the county’s sheriff’s office stop cabs that might be operating without a proper permit. Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson said Sheriff Charles E. Jett should be brought into the conversation on whether or not to regulate taxi cabs in the county.

Rockhill Supervisor Cord Sterling said he is hesitant to put more government regulation in place.

“I ride in taxis quite a bit, but I don’t know the first thing about regulating them. My experience with regulation is the government telling [cab owners] what prices to charge, and I tend to lean toward the free market,” said Sterling.

As the county grows, Cavalier said he’s convinced some sort of regulation will be needed to govern fares, as ridership to and from places like restaurants, shopping centers, bars, and to airports like Regan Washington National and Dulles is on the upswing.

General Assembly Blocks I-95 Tolls

By STEPHEN NIELSEN
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – There will be no tolling on the southern end of Interstate 95 without the General Assembly’s say-so, thanks to approval of the transportation funding bill during the recently concluded legislative session.

A plan to toll the stretch of I-95 in Sussex County, which was part of a larger federal pilot program, will be blocked by language added to the transportation bill: “No tolls shall be imposed or collected on Interstate 95 south of Fredericksburg pursuant to the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program without the prior approval of the General Assembly.”

The ISRRPP was created to test tolling as a possible way to “fund needed reconstruction or rehabilitation on Interstate highway corridors that could not otherwise be adequately maintained or functionally improved without the collection of tolls,” according to the Federal Highway Administration’s website.

The Virginia Department of Transportation reserved one of three slots for the pilot program, and plans were under way to establish a tolling facility to test the idea. Involvement in the ISRRPP will now require approval from the General Assembly, effectively halting such plans.

“Although I wasn’t pleased with the overall transportation plan, the elimination of tolls was one of the few bright spots in the bill,” said Delegate Chris Peace, R-Mechanicsville.

“I’m pleased that we were able to send a clear message that imposing tolls on I-95 in Sussex County was a bad idea, and more importantly, that the Virginia General Assembly will now serve as a barrier to tolls on this important transportation corridor.”

Peace sponsored a bill to require approval by the General Assembly prior to any tolling on any part of an interstate highway in operation before July 2013. His proposal died in committee, but the transportation bill is a partial win.

“While it is not a ban on tolling, it is a clear indication that the General Assembly does not support tolling I-95,” said Dale Bennett, president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Trucking Association.

The association is part of Toll Free 95 in Virginia, an organization opposing all tolls on the interstate. Twenty-three localities, 13 business associations, five economic and planning organizations and other groups have signed Toll Free’s online petition against tolling on I-95. More than 7,000 individuals also have signed the petition.

“From the beginning, residents of Southside Virginia knew the devastating impact that tolls on I-95 would have on public safety and our business environment,” said Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt. “A tolling facility in Sussex would unfairly single out the hardworking people of Southside Virginia, and we are glad that it will not come to fruition.

“Collectively, we can claim victory.”

The restrictions on tolling are contained in House Bill 2313, which cleared the Senate on Feb. 23, the final day of the legislative session. The bill, which is awaiting Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature, raises sales taxes and overhauls fuels taxes to raise money for road and transit projects.

2 New Specialty License Plates for Virginians

I-95 south in Woodbridge. (Photo: Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

By STEFFANIE ATKINS 
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginians will soon have two new options for specialty license plates: one for fans of the Washington Nationals baseball team, and the other sporting the words “Peace Begins at Home.”

The specialty plates, approved by the General Assembly during its just-concluded session, would fund charitable causes.

Two identical proposals – House Bill 1387, introduced by Delegate Michael J. Webert, R-Marshall, and Senate Bill 837, by Sen. George L. Barker, D-Alexandria – allow the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to offer license plates supporting the Washington Nationals baseball team.

The plates will cost $25 above normal registration fees. After the first 1,000 plates have been sold, $15 of the $25 will go to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. The foundation’s goals are to improve the lives of children in the community based on three principles: education, health and recreation.

The “Peace Begins at Home” license plate was authorized by SB 1368, introduced by Sen. Mark Herring, D-Leesburg.

These plates also will cost an additional $25. After 1,000 plates have been purchased, $15 of the $25 registration fee will be sent to the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. The alliance is a 30-year-old coalition of people and agencies committed to ending sexual and domestic violence.

The legislation creating the two new specialty plates is awaiting Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature.

Before the DMV can start manufacturing the specialty plates, the agency must receive at least 450 prepaid orders.

Virginia has more than 200 specialty plates. For information on how to purchase one, visit a DMV office or www.dmv.virginia.gov/vehicles/#plate_search.asp.

VRE Expanding Capacity by Lowering Amtrak Step-Up Fare

121212 VRE

Virginia Railway Express is adding more capacity for riders via their Amtrak Step-Up ticket, the price of which will be lowered from $5 to $3 starting Friday.

The Step-Up fare allows would-be riders of Virginia Railway Express trains to instead board Amtrak trains that serve VRE riders. Those trains are listed on VRE schedules.

“It is another travel option and could potentially reduce crowding on some of our more popular trains,” said VRE CEO Doug Allen in a press release.

The Step-Up fare tickets are sold at VRE stations and in bulk from VRE off-site vendors.

More in a press release from VRE:

For passengers new to the VRE system, you can ride the Amtrak trains listed on VRE schedules by purchasing an Amtrak Step-Up ticket in conjunction with a properly validated VRE Monthly, Ten-Ride, Five-Day or TLC pass for a trip into Washington, DC. Because Amtrak trains do not stop at every VRE station, please make sure that your ultimate destination is serviced by the train you choose to board. Amtrak Step-Up tickets are available from any VRE vendor location, or from the Ticket Vending Machines located on each VRE station platform. These tickets are not available for purchase onboard the Amtrak trains.

Reductions in Step-Up fares come as the 95 Express Lanes Project is underway which, by 2014, will have converted the HOV lanes from Dumfries to the Capital Beltway to HOV/toll lanes and extend them south to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.

Transportation Deal Reached: Region Split on Higher Taxes

Va. 610 at I-95 in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

For the first time in 27 years there is comprehensive transportation reform in Virginia.

The state’s Senate approved a new measure during the General Assembly’s final day of regular session on Saturday that raises taxes and would ultimately raise $880 million in new transportation revenues.

Here’s how the new transportation funding plan breaks down in a partial report from Capital News Service:

Just hours before the session’s end, the Senate voted 25-15 for House Bill 2313, which will raise about $880 million a year more for roads and mass transit by increasing sales taxes while lowering the fuels tax.

The debate over how to increase revenue continued right up to the vote.

“This isn’t any bill. This is the only bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, R-Williamsburg. He said it’s the only way to provide the revenue Virginia’s transportation system needs – and to ease traffic congestion in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.

Others disagreed.

“To me, the final bill represents bad economics and bad transportation policy,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria. He said the state should raise its gasoline tax to address the problems.

HB 2313, which was negotiated by a conference committee and approved 60-40 by the House on Friday, would:

• Eliminate the 17.5-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax that consumers pay at the pump. Instead, the state would impose a 3.5 percent tax on gasoline at the wholesale level. The wholesale tax on diesel fuel would be 6 percent.

• Increase Virginia’s sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent.

• Raise the motor vehicle sales tax from 3 percent to 4.3 percent.

• Charge a $100 annual license tax for electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

• Allow a 0.7 percent sales tax increase in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to fund transportation projects there.

HB 2313 also would boost the proportion of the state’s general fund revenue dedicated to transportation from 0.5 percent to 0.675 percent. And it would prohibit tolls on Interstate 95 south of Fredericksburg without approval from the General Assembly.

Sales taxes in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads could be raised as high as 6% to fund transportation projects in those areas under the new law. The last time the 17.5 cents per gallon motor fuels tax – what has historically funded road construction and maintenance – had not been touched since 1986.

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce lauded the passage of the bill and issued the following statement:

With Senate passage of the transportation conference report, Virginia has its first comprehensive, long-term transportation funding solution in nearly three decades. The historic measure passed the Senate in a 25-15 vote.

Of the legislators representing the Prince William area, Senators Colgan, Puller and Barker voted in favor. Senators Black and Stuart voted against.

“Securing sustainable, comprehensive transportation funding for Virginia has long been a top priority of the Prince William Chamber. Today’s vote represents a new day for the Commonwealth,” said Prince William Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Rob Clapper. “We will now have real funding for significant road construction and maintenance of existing infrastructure, improving economic competitiveness and the quality of life in Virginia.”

When fully implemented, the funding package would generate an estimated $880 million in 2018, of which $200 million comes from existing General Funds. The five-year transportation total is estimated at $3.5 billion. The regional component for Northern Virginia is estimated to generate an additional $350 million per year for regional projects.

Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Lt. Governor candidate Susan Stimpson isn’t as enthusiastic, and over the weekend blasted Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, over the passage of the bill:

Republicans are supposed to be about cutting taxes, cutting spending and reducing the size of government—like our current leadership in Richmond promised us they would do when we were working hard to elect them.

Instead they abandoned our party’s principles by raising taxes and paving the way for Obamacare.

Do we or do we not believe that a restrained and limited government is what allows the most freedom and prosperity?

Speaker Bill Howell and Governor McDonnell are friends. But they could not be more wrong. And they could not have failed us at a more critical time.

Stimpson’s reference to Obamacare comes after Senate Democrats went to the wall with McDonnell and agreed to support the transportation reform package in exchange for his support of an expansion of Medicare in Virginia for the working poor.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Capital News Service contributed to this report.

More Closures for I-95 Express Lanes Work Wednesday & Thursday Nights

Interstate 95 south at Dumfries [Photo: Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Drivers headed south on Interstate 95 this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday nights face temporary closures near mile post 148 at Quantico.

A crane will be moved across the highway at the Telegraph Road overpass in Stafford County on both nights. Drivers should expect total but temporary closures of that portion of the interstate, stated the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Megaprojects office.

The work is part of the nearly $1 billion I-95 Express Lanes Project to extend high occupancy vehicle / toll lanes from Dumfries to Va. 610 Stafford, and to convert existing HOV lanes to multi-use carpool / toll lanes between Dumfries and the Capital Beltway.

The project is expected to be completed in 2014, and it will compliment Express Lanes added between Springfield and Dulles Toll Road on I-495 in Virginia. 

 

Effort to Replace 88-year-old Bridge Brings Telegraph Road Closure

U.S. 1 at Telegraph Road in Stafford County [Photo: Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

Submitted News

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va . — Route 637 (Telegraph Road) in Stafford County will be closed to all traffic next week between Route 1 and Route 639 (Woodstock Lane) so workers can relocate a water line.

The road will be closed to traffic from Monday, Feb. 25 through Friday, March 1. The road will close at approximately 9 a.m. on Monday morning, and will remain closed through approximately 5 p.m. Friday.

Telegraph Road intersects with Route 1 at two locations. The section that is closing next week is located at the southern intersection with Route 1.

Motorists will be directed to use Woodstock Lane to reach Route 1. Detour signs and electronic message boards are posted to direct drivers.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and its contractor, Corman Construction, Inc., are replacing an 88-year-old bridge on Route 1 over Aquia Creek to improve the infrastructure on this primary road.

Workers must move a nearby water line as part of this project. Telegraph Road must be closed next week so workers can access the tie-in point to the water system.

The $5.5 million bridge project began in December, and will conclude in August 2015. Although single-lane closures will be needed for brief periods of construction, all four lanes of Route 1 will be maintained for the majority of this project.

Click Here to learn more about the Route 1 bridge replacement project.

-VDOT

Opinions Differ on Bill to Fund Nearly $900 Million in State Transportation Revenue

Drivers on Interstate 95 south pass under Telegraph Road in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/PotomacLocal.com)

While it appears Virginia’s leaders have come to an agreement on a new transportation funding bill, not all local voices agree with the new legislation awaiting approval from both the state Sentate and House of Delegates.

The new bill approved by Virginia’s General Assembly will is expected to raise nearly $900 million for transportation revenue, and would replace a 17.5 cent tax per gallon of gas – a rate not touched since 1986 – and replace it with a 3.5 cent wholesale gas tax.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart in a statement Thursday touted his county’s road building program that independent of the state’s Virginia Department of Transportation:

While I have been Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, the Board stepped up to the plate when the state would not by funding our own $300 million road building program. And we did so without raising taxes.

We funded our road building program by cutting spending and eliminating programs. We then put those savings into transportation.

When you make something a priority it may require you to make tough decisions, but it can be done without raising taxes.

According to the state’s own audit commission, the state budget increased 66% between 2002 and 2011, with only 5% of that growth going toward transportation.

The state must fund transportation, but it must do so by prioritizing transportation in its budget and using existing revenue sources, not by raising taxes. That is why I oppose this plan.

Stewart is also seeking  the nomination to run for Virginia’s next Lt. Governor to replace outgoing Bill Bolling.

At odds with Stewart’s statements are those of Prince William Chamber President Rob Clapper who supports passage of the bill and called it an “historic measure”:

“The lack of progress on this issue has been holding the businesses and people of the Commonwealth back. Northern Virginia faces one of the longest commute times in the nation; studies show this gridlock costs $1,398 and 67 hours per driver each year. That is money that could be spent in the local economy, time that could be spent on our businesses or in our communities,” said Clapper.

He added, “We commend the conferees for moving this funding package forward. Now, we urge the General Assembly to take action and avoid a transportation crisis for the Commonwealth. It is critical that we get the people and businesses of Northern Virginia moving again.”

The apporoved measure is not what Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell initially proposed. Under the Republican’s original plan, the state’s gas tax would have been abolished altogether and the state sales tax raised from five to 5.8 percent.

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