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VDOT needs someone to design-build I-95 collector lanes in Stafford, Fredericksburg

STAFFORD, Va. — A project to build collector-distributor lanes on Interstate 95 south in Stafford County, between Route 17 and Route 3 in Fredericksburg, is moving ahead. 

The Virginia Department of Transportation today issued this notice for a company to design the lanes (similar lanes drivers find at the I-95 interchange at Dale City.

Submitted: 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has advertised a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from companies that may be interested in submitting bids for a design-build contract to build the Interstate 95 Southbound Collector-Distributor Lanes – Rappahannock River Crossing project in the Fredericksburg area.

The RFQ asks that interested companies, known as offerors, submit Statements of Qualifications. Those responses will be evaluated by VDOT and the information will be used to determine the most qu

alified offerors. Those offerors will be invited to submit project proposals in response to VDOT’s Request for Proposals, which will be issued in early 2017.

The project is located along I-95 between mile marker 134 in Stafford County and mile marker 130 in the City of Fredericksburg. The project would modify the Route 17 interchange and add collector-distributor lanes parallel to the I-95 southbound general purpose lanes between Exit 133/Route 17 in Stafford and Exit 130/Route 3 in Fredericksburg.

The RFQ advertisement is posted on the Design-Build Request for Qualifications page on VDOT’s website:http://www.virginiadot.org/business/request-for-qualifications.asp

News
No PRTC service cuts in coming year, funding dwindles 

PRTC’s offices and Transit Center are located at 14700 Potomac Mills Road in Woodbridge.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — As transit officials in Prince William County wrangle with how to keep buses rolling, riders won’t have to worry about service cuts in the coming year.

Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Interim Director Eric Marx issued this statement to riders of OmniRide commuter, and OmniLink local buses:

“PRTC has started preparing its FY18 budget, and I’m pleased to share some encouraging news with you.

At a special meeting on October 24, the PRTC Board of Commissioners agreed that bus services should not be cut in FY18, which runs from July 2017-June 2018.

 A stable year with no service cuts will enable PRTC to complete its strategic planning effort and allow the Board, our customers and other interested parties in our community to form a vision of what public transportation should look like in the Prince William area in the future. It also provides us with additional time to seek a stable and sustainable alternate source of funding.

 Those of you who are familiar with PRTC know that we’ve cut service often over the past eight years due to declining revenues from the area’s motor fuels tax combined with other federal and local funding issues. While we still have a long budget process in front of us, the prospect of being able to continue providing bus services at current levels is noteworthy.”

Local bus service in Prince William County is funded now solely through the state’s 2.1% motor fuels tax, charged at the pump each time drivers fill up in Northern Virginia.

The Prince William County Government earlier this year moved to rely on the motors fuels tax exclusively to fund buses. At the same time, shifted its source of funding for Virginia Railway Express commuter rail trains from fuels tax funding to a pot of money given to the county by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission that supposed to be used for roadway improvements.

PRTC officials still face a shortfall in funding as the motors fuels tax continues to produce less funding year over year as gas prices fluctuate and new cars continue to earn better fuel economy ratings.

From PRTC: 

Why is an alternative funding source necessary? “Alternative sustainable funding sources are needed because (as you know) funding from the 2.1% motor fuels tax revenue has been insufficient to cover existing services due to the continued drop in fuel prices.”

What sources are being reviewed? “PRTC is in the midst of a strategic planning effort, which includes examining other possible sources.”

Where are we with the budget this year vs. last year? “The FY2018 proposed budget process is under way and will be presented to the Commission at its January 2017 meeting.”

Last year in the light of a budget shortfall, OmniRide riders faced the threat of potential cuts to commuter routes as the system explored the possibility of rerouting buses to have them serve only Metro stations. Thankfully for many, those service changes never happened.

So, what does PRTC need to do to secure a permanent, reliable source of funding? Potomac Local asked state legislators and local officials and received these responses. We’ve posted them in the order we received them: 

Dudenhefer Head Shot

Delegate Mark Dudenhefer (Stafford, Woodbridge)

“I’m not on [the PRTC Board of Commissioners], so my knowledge is superficial. I believe that the majority of their problems with funding shortfalls has come from the decline is gas prices which the gas tax is based on. Gas prices have stabilized a bit which has stopped the leak temporarily.
 
At the state level we hear most often about setting a tax floor. As you can imagine this is a touchy subject. Where do you set the floor? Many don’t think we should set a floor at all. “
surrovellSenator Scott Surrovell (Fairfax, Stafford, Woodbridge)
“I am pleased that PRTC is not cutting service, but the General Assembly needs to step up and correct the drafting error that resulted in Prince William County losing millions of dollars in transit revenues.  We tried to correct this legislatively last year, but it got caught up in politics.”  
Updated Nov. 5, 2016
 
 
AndersonDelegate Richard Anderson (Prince William County)
“The PRTC Board met on October 24th to adopt budget guidelines for FY18 and decided that we would maintain services in FY18 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018). That decision gives us the necessary time to identify alternate funding sources to fill the hole left by declining tax revenues that result from dramatically lower gas prices. For now, the way ahead is indefinite, but will take on greater clarity after we get beyond several key events that include the following:

– PRTC Board Strategic Planning Session, December 3rd, 8am-12pm, McCoart Government Center (open to the public)

– Governor’s Budget Presentation to the annual joint meeting of the House and Senate money committees, December 16th, 9:30-11am, General Assembly Building in Richmond (open to the public). This event puts the Governor’s proposals in the hands of the legislative branch and permits us to consider PRTC’s budget concerns.

– Convening the 2017 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly on January 11th (adjourns February 28th). Sometime prior to the opening of session, we’ll have a detailed legislative plan in hand from Hefty Wiley & Gore (HWG), the firm recently hired by PRTC to advocate for a solution to the challenge presented by declining tax revenues. HWG is working on the plan now, and I don’t have visibility into the plan as I type these words.”

News
Crash closes portion of Aden Road

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Police are working a crash on Aden Road where a utility pole was struck and fell.

The two-lane road is closed between Carriage Ford Road and Fleetwood Drive. We don’t yet have information on injuries or the types of vehicles involved.

Police did not say when they planned to reopen the road. 

More info as we get it.

News
Car runs off Purcell Road

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PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Police were called to investigate a crash at the intersection of Purcell Road and Cornwell Drive. 

The driver of the vehicle involved in the crash appeared to  have run off the road.

Drivers on Purcell Road encounter a sharp turn at Cornwell Drive, near the location of this crash.

Police were called to the scene at 7:36 a.m. Tuesday, stated Prince William police Sgt. Jonathan Perok.

We’ll bring you more information as we get it.

News
Jeep slams into CVS on Route 610 in Stafford

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STAFFORD, Va. — The driver of a 2004 Jeep Cherokee slammed into the front of a CVS Pharmacy. 

The crash occurred at 12:32 p.m. Wednesday, Oct 26 when the driver entered the parking lot of the store at the intersection of Route 610 and Shelton Shop Road in Stafford.

The driver told a sheriff’s deputy that he tried to stop vehicle and park in in parking space in front of the CVS. But his foot slipped off the gas pedal, and the Jeep collided with the front of the store.

No serious injuries were reported. The driver had been drinking and was not distracted at the time of the crash, according to the police report obtained from the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.

The crash caused an estimated $5,000 in damage. 

The driver, identified in the report as Peter Zaremba, failed to maintain control of his vehicle.

 

News
Fredericksburg commuter says police unfairly issued tickets at lot in Woodbridge

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Submitted by Hailee Dees, of Fredericksburg:

On average, I spend 16 hours a week commuting to Arlington from Fredericksburg. That’s almost a part time job. 

Currently, I’m a full-time accelerated nursing student at Marymount University. To save my sanity, I commute with two other accelerated nursing students. 

Together, the three of us commute to avoid paying the extremely expensive Interstate-95 express lane tolls and to skip the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 395 during rush hour. We meet at the Horner Road commuter lot located at Telegraph Road and Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge. 

We chose this particular lot because it houses more than 2,300 parking spaces and because of its proximity to I-95. As with most of the other commuter lots in the area, according to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission website, this particular lot fills up completely by 6:50 am. 

Many commuters are forced to create their own parking spots by parking along curbs, on top of sidewalks, and in the roadways, where they end up parked parallel to other vehicles, centimeters from one another, with their door handles almost touching. Commuters in this lot have been creating their own parking spots like the ones mentioned above long before my classmates, and I started commuting this past summer. Not once have we witnessed these vehicles creating any issues with other vehicles who’re trying to maneuver around them.

On Thursday, October 27, 2016, my classmates and I returned to the Horner Road commuter lot to find two of our vehicles ticketed by the Prince William County Police Department. The violation cites that our cars were “parked in a roadway- other than a designated space.” Our cars were parked in the very back of Lot 9, along a curb, with plenty of room for other cars to pass by. There is no “No Parking” signs or markings on the pavement in this area. We park here almost daily. 

Upon leaving the lot, we noticed that not all vehicles that were parked in undesignated spaces were ticketed. Vehicles that were parked along curbs where it is a much tighter fit and much less space for vehicles to pass had no tickets on their windshields. 

Our tickets were time stamped at 11:56 am. There were vehicles parked in the commuter lot today, who had no tickets on their windshields but were parked in undesignated parking spaces during the time our tickets were issued.

The question is: Why didn’t the other cars in the same lot receive tickets when they also were not parked in designated spots? Why were our cars (and a few others in the lot) targeted? 

Not only do we, commuters, risk losing our tires and wheels, which are stolen by local thieves who leave our vehicles on cinderblocks in the parking lot, but also now we have to risk being ticketed for parking in a commuter lot that doesn’t even provide enough designated parking spaces. 

Since most of the other commuter lots in the area are full too, where do the county and the Prince William County Police Department propose the commuters park? Telecommuting is not an option and missing class or work isn’t either. 

The majority of commuters cannot afford to pay the I-95 express lane tolls every morning and afternoon when they cost upwards of $10 just to go one-quarter of the way, from [Prince William] County Parkway (exit 158 on I-95) to Springfield/Franconia (exit 169 on I-95). 

If my classmates and I did not commute together, my commute alone would most likely be upwards of 3 hours one way, which is ridiculous considering my commute is a total of 57 miles and would cost $15-20.

In conclusion, the commuters who use this lot deserve better than inconsistent ticketing and theft after exhausting 12-hour days upon return to our vehicles. We, commuters, just want to go home to our families, prop our feet up, and relax. 

We’re doing what we have to do to provide for our families and better our futures. It certainly doesn’t reduce stress when it seems like the Prince William County Police Department cares more about “illegal” parking and unfair ticketing than they do about the theft in the commuter lots. 

The commuters aren’t asking for much. Either let us park in appropriate undesignated spaces, have the county create more designated parking spaces in the current lots, or add more commuter lots in proximity to I-95.

I have photos of vehicles parked in undesignated spaces with no tickets on their windshields during the time we were ticketed:

 

From Prince William police Sgt. Jonathan Perok: 

The Police Department understands there are parking issues in the County’s commuter lots, most of which apply to the number of spaces available versus the large number of commuters. Commuter lots in the County are designed and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) with enforcement authority shared by both County and State Police. Both agencies monitor the lots and take necessary enforcement action when appropriate.

Although a driver may feel their vehicle is safely parked out of the way of other cars, larger, more heavy duty vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances may find it difficult to navigate the lot in an emergency with vehicles parked outside of designated spaces. There are posted signs as you enter the lot which state that drivers are only allowed to park in designated spaces which is consistent with the code section (13.2-278.B).

We are aware the parking issues are ongoing but unfortunately cannot dedicate staffing for enforcement efforts as priorities constantly shift. With regard to the thefts in that Commuter lot specifically, we are currently working with VDOT and State Police officials on more long-term security needs. We have used additional resources in this Commuter lot in an attempt to deter theft.

News
Overturned car reported on Minnieville Road at Smoketown Plaza

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Rescue crews were called to the intersection of Minnieville Road and Smoketown Plaza, near a KFC restaurant, for an overturned car.

There are reports of at least one person who is trapped inside the car following the crash. 

Police closed the intersection while rescue crews helped the injured. There are reports of at least two people injured in the crash.

Update

One person was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance for treatment.

 

News
Updated: Police called to crash at Dumfries and Purcell roads

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Updated 

Police tell us the crash involved three vehicles and occurred near the intersection of Dumfries and Purcell roads about 8:30 a.m. 

Two people were taken to a local hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening. 

One person is charged with reckless driving, according to police.

Original post

A Potomac Local reader reported a multi-car pileup near the intersection of Hoadly and Purcell roads.

The crash occurred about 1 p.m.

We’re working to get more information on this story.

Photo: Submitted

News
$6.6 million bridge repair job to begin on I-95 in Stafford, Spotsylvania

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

STAFFORD, Va. –– Two bridges in Stafford County, and one in Spotsylvania County on Interstate 95 will be overhauled at a cost of $6.6 million.

From VDOT: 

This two-year project will improve the condition of northbound and southbound bridges that carry I-95 traffic over Aquia Creek and Potomac Creek in Stafford, and the Ni River in Spotsylvania.

To lessen the impact on traffic, most lane closures on I-95 will occur overnight and during off-peak hours.

Work is starting first at the Ni River bridges, which are located at mile marker 121, south of Exit 126/Spotsylvania. This fall, motorists can expect periodic shoulder closures on the northbound and southbound Ni River bridges.

Construction will be underway at each bridge for four to five months. The entire project is expected to be completed in early November 2018.

Work is anticipated to occur on the following schedule:

· Ni River bridges (mile marker 121): Fall 2016-Spring 2017
· Potomac Creek bridges (mile marker 137, just north of Exit 136/Centreport Parkway): Fall 2017-Spring 2018
· Aquia Creek bridges (mile marker 145, just north of Exit 143/Route 610): Summer 2018-Fall 2018

Work will include deck repairs, superstructure repairs and substructure and crack repairs. The project will also include installing dry rip rap, complete joint reconstruction, milling concrete decks, patching and installing a latex modified concrete on deck.

News
Manassas Park needs 500 more parking spaces, talks with VRE for garage

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MANASSAS PARK, Va. — Commuters are running out of room to park at the Manassas Park Virginia Railway Express station.

Now, Virginia’s only commuter railroad aims to work with the city to build a new parking deck for those who drive to the station and then catch a morning train to Alexandria, Arlington, and Washington, D.C.

From VRE spokesman Paul Dean:

VRE invites the General Public to join us at the Town Hall Meeting at Manassas Park City Hall on November 1, 2016, from 5:30 – 7:00 PM, to learn about the sites being evaluated for the VRE Manassas Park Station Parking Expansion and to provide feedback on the Preferred Alternatives. For more details, see: www.vre.org/projects-plans-facility/plans/manassas-park-station-parking-expansion/

VRE is conducting a study to address the need to expand the existing parking at the Manassas Park station. Approximately 500 more spaces are needed to meet future projected demand, in addition to the 600 existing surface parking spaces currently serving the station.

The study includes analysis of alternatives, environmental documentation, and will determine the location, size, and design of the proposed parking facility, and the type of grade-separated pedestrian access to the existing platform if needed. Cost projections are not available at this time.

The study was initiated in July 2016 and the Manassas Park Governing Body will consider and potentially select a preferred alternative for the site of the parking facility on Nov 15, 2016. Formal public comment is invited at the Governing Body meeting on Nov 1, 2016 at 7:00 PM. Prior to that date, comments may be submitted via mail or email.

Mail: Virginia Railway Express, 1500 King St. Suite 202, Alexandria VA 22314 Attention: Manassas Park Station Parking Expansion Study
Email: gotrains@vre.org

Neighboring Manassas City opened a parking deck more than 10 years ago to serve VRE riders, shoppers, and tourists in the Downtown neighborhood. 

“The parking garage is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” said Manassas City Councilman Jonathan Way.

Prior to its construction, some people feared the garage would be too empty, that few drivers would use it creating a safety hazard, explained Way. Others feared it would be too tall, creating an eyesore in the historic area. 

Way called the parking deck the first modernization of the city’s downtown. The garage was built to keep the same look and feel of other brick buildings nearby, but expanded the city’s parking capacity, allowing for more events, more commuters, and for more visitors to easily find parking.

Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish said VRE stations on both the system’s Manassas and Fredericksburg lines create hubs where people want to visit.

“Though there are people [that use the parking garage] who will come and go and will not stay or in Manassas, some will come back over the weekend shop if they see something they like,” said Parrish.

There have been failed attempts to incorporate the parking deck into the city’s annual 4th of July festivities. Residents have long wanted to watch the city’s fireworks display — billed as the largest in Northern Virginia — from the top deck of the parking garage.

An effort this year to sell tickets to an event that would have welcomed fireworks spectators to the parking deck failed. Parrish said also police had concerns about too many drivers trying to exit the parking deck at once following the fireworks show. 

Manassas continues to look at other locations to build parking decks, though none are tied directly to VRE, said Parrish. The city won’t be outdone with a nicer parking garage built by its neighbor, Manassas Park. 

“I think we’re not going to let anyone get build taller than we do here in Manassas, in the center of Prince William County,” quipped Parrish.

News
Deer vs. car on West Cambridge Street in Falmouth

The driver of a Nissan collided with a deer Monday in Falmouth. 

Emergency crews were called to the area of 125 West Cambridge Street about 4:20 p.m. Monday.

Initial reports indicate the deer damaged the rear of the car. One woman suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, according to initial information.

A Stafford County Sheriff’s Deputy was called to the scene to investigate the crash.

Wildlife officials in Virginia say the fall season brings an increase in the number of deer walking near roadways. 

From Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries: 

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recommend the following tips to drivers to avoid hitting a deer:

When driving, particularly at night (from dusk to dawn) slow down and be attentive. If you see one deer, likely there will be others. If one deer crosses the road as you approach, others may follow.

Deer habitually travel the same areas; therefore deer crossing signs have been installed by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Use caution when you see these signs.

Drivers should apply brakes, even stop if necessary, to avoid hitting a deer,but should never swerve out of the lane to miss a deer. A collision with another vehicle, tree orother object is likely to be more serious than hitting a deer.

Rely on your caution and your own senses, not deer whistles you can buy for your car. These devices have not been shown to be effective.

Any person involved in a collision with a deer or bear while driving a motor vehicle, thereby killing the animal, should immediately report the accident to a Conservation Police Officer or other law enforcement officer in the county or city where the accident occurred.

Drivers who collide with a deer or bear, thereby killing the animal, may keep it for their own use provided that they report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer views the animal and gives the person a possession certificate.

News
Updated: Police investigate fatal motorcycle crash on Minnieville Road

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DALE CITY, Va. — A motorcycle and another vehicle were involved in a crash near the intersection of Minnieville Road and Dale Boulevard. 

Police closed multiple lanes Minnieville Road near Cheshire Station shopping center following the crash that occurred about 8 a.m. Tuesday. At least one person was taken to a hospital.

Traffic headed north on Minnieville Road was reduced to one lane about 8:15 a.m. 

Update from Prince William police:

Fatal Crash Investigation – On October 25 at 7:32AM, investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit responded to the area of Minnieville Rd and Cheshire Station Plz in Woodbridge (22193) to investigate a crash involving a motorcycle. The investigation revealed that the operator of a 2004 Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycle was traveling northbound on Minnieville Rd when, at the same time, the driver of a 2015 Honda Accord was traveling southbound. The Honda Accord driver attempted a left turn into Cheshire Station Plz, crossing in front of the motorcycle operator resulting in a collision. The motorcycle operator was transported to an area hospital where he died as a result of his injuries. The other driver remained at the scene and was not injured. Speed, drug, and alcohol use are not factors in this crash. No charges have been placed at this time. The investigation continues.

Identified:

The operator of the 2004 Suzuki GSX-R750 was identified as John R. BACHMAN, Jr., 52, of Woodbridge

The driver of the 2015 Honda Accord was identified as a 69-year-old man of Woodbridge

Updated Oct. 26, 2016

News
Wire falls onto Hope Road, sheriff’s deputies called for traffic control

A contractor working in the area of Hope Road and Summerwood Drive struck a TV cable causing to fall onto the street. 

Stafford sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene for traffic control about 3:15 p.m. 

Emergency crews from the county’s fire and rescue service called for the owner of the line to be notified so reparis could be made.

 

News
Overturned car reported on Brentsville Road

Rescue crews found an overturned car near the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Brentsville Road. 

An emergency worker called the county’s dispatch center to report the crash and said the occupants had made it out of the car safely. At least one person was bleeding, according to initial reports. 

Rescue crews dispatched to the scene reported the crash to be in the middle of the intersection.

 

News
Powerlines fall onto Opitz Boulevard, Sentara traffic rerouted

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A crash on Opitz Boulevard near Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center brought power lines crashing down. 

Police and fire and rescue crews were called to the area of Opitz and Potomac Center boulevards in Woodbridge about 9:30 a.m. The eastbound lanes of the Opitz Boulevard were temporarily closed, and at least one lane in the eastbound direction was closed to traffic. 

Ambulances carrying patients to Sentara were rerouted to the hospital’s entrance using Potomac Center Boulevard.

NOVEC was called to repair the lines.

Police have not released details on the crash, or if anyone was charged in the incident.

News
Car overturns in Widewater area of Stafford County

A car flipped onto its side in the rural Arkendale section of Stafford County. 

Rescue crews were called to the area of Arkendale and Widewater roads about 3:45 p.m. for a report of a car that had crashed into a wooded area. 

Rescue crews arrived on the scene and told 911 dispatchers that they found a car lying on its side and that three teenagers appeared to have escaped safely.

The car was reported to be off the roadway and was not blocking traffic.

News
Police work to fix signal lights at large Woodbridge intersection

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Police are at the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Smoketown Road in Woodbridge where traffic signal lights are flashing.

Police were notified by drivers that signal lights on Prince William Parkway were flashing yellow and lights on Smoketown Road were flashing red. 

The intersection is one of the largest intersections in Prince Willam County. The intersection is made up of 20 lanes, with three travel lanes and two turn lanes in each direction.

Police are reported to be working to repair the signal lights.

Updated 

More signal lights are reported to be on flash at the following intersections: 

Smoketown at Old Bridge Road in Lake Ridge 
Smoketown and Minnieville Road in Woodbridge 
Dale Boulevard and Potomac Center Boulevard.
Route 1 and American Eagle Boulevard 

News
Diverging diamond interchange, new commuter lot approved for Stafford

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

STAFFORD, Va. — The interchange at Interstate 95 and Courthouse Road in Stafford County will be reconstructed. 

Virginia Transportation officials awarded a construction contract on Tuesday ot build a diverging diamond interchange similar to one being built in Haymarket.

A portion of Courthouse Road will be widened from two to four lanes, and a commuter lot on Courthouse Road will be moved and expanded.

Press release: 

The Commonwealth Transportation Board today awarded a contract  worth approximately $99.9 million to Shirley Contracting Co., of Lorton, Va., to build several projects in the Courthouse Road area of Stafford County.

One project will reconstruct the existing Interstate 95 interchange at exit 140, Courthouse Road, as a diverging diamond interchange. The intersection of Route 1 and Courthouse Road will be relocated to the south to align with Hospital Center Boulevard.

Another project will widen Courthouse Road west of I-95. Courthouse Road will be widened to four lanes between Cedar Lane and Ramoth Church Road/Winding Creek Road.

Commuter parking will be expanded by approximately 500 spaces at the interchange. An existing Park & Ride lot at exit 140 will be relocated east of I-95. The project will expand capacity to around 1,000 parking spaces, and will add dedicated pickup and dropoff areas for buses and carpools. The existing number of commuter parking spaces, 545 spaces, will be maintained during construction.

Construction will begin in spring 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2020.

News
Pedestrian struck on Clipper Drive in Lake Ridge

A woman was taken to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center this morning after she was struck by a car.

A call to 911 sent fire and rescue crews to the intersection of Clipper and Huntersbrook drives, near Old Bridge Road in Lake Ridge about 9 a.m. 

Rescue crews found one victim on the scene. She was taken to a hospital for treatment, according to initial reports.

We don’t know the extension of her injuries, and we don’t know yet if any criminal charges were filed in the case.

News
Cost could outweigh benefit of expanding VRE to Haymarket

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The cost to extend Virginia Railway Express 11 miles west to Haymarket could be as much as $660 million — about $60 million per mile.

That number brought pause to members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors who on Tuesday said the costs of the project might outweigh the ridership benefits, and that could lead to the project’s demise.

Transportation officials last fall began a $4 million study on what it would take to extend the commuter rail line west of Manassas. While Haymarket would be the ultimate end of the line, the railroad is evaluating other options like building a shorter extension only to Innovation Park just outside Manassas, or one to two stations in Gainesville.

The cost for shorter track options ranges between $572 and $631 million. The railroad must add an additional track in the right of way it will use for its rail line expansion, the existing Norfolk-Southern freight line, dubbed the B-line. It splits off the main line near the intersection of Wellington Road and Prince William Street in Manassas.

If VRE expands west, it must also increase capacity at its storage yard at the Broad Run Station at Manassas Regional Airport, today’s terminus of the Manassas rail line. A new station would be built just east of the airport, possibly in the area of Godwin Drive and Prince William Parkway (Route 234 Bypass) at the new Manassas Gateway planned mixed-use development. 

The train yard would be expanded and would consume the existing parking lot at the Broad Run station. A flood plain behind the station prevents the railroad from having enough room to expand the station at the railyard at Broad Run, said Christine Hoeffner, whose headed up the westward expansion study for VRE.

With the enlarged storage lot, VRE will be able to increase the number of daily trains from 16 to 22. More trains would mean more frequent service, reducing average wait times from 30 to 20 minutes between trains on the Manassas line during rush hour.

While the costs are high, the numbers that show anticipated ridership growth following the expansion are small by comparison. Today, VRE’s Manassas line carries 10,220 riders. An extension west to Haymarket would net the commuter railroad 6,240 more riders by 2040.

“If money were not an issue, this would be a slam dunk,” said Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, who has long supported extending Washington, D.C.’s Metrorail from Springfield to Woodbridge. “The concerns that I’m hearing is the cost benefit.”  

Funding for the expansion would come from state and federal sources, and local funds. At $9 million a year, Prince William County residents already pay the majority of VRE’s local subsidy. That’s more than Arlington, Fairfax, Stafford, and Spotsylvania counties and the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Fredericksburg.

The VRE expansion study also states that riders travel from western counties like Fauquier and Warren to the Board Run station to catch trains. 

“We see that VRE  riders ar willing to drive,” said Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland. “I don’t know why we would build another VRE station in the D.C. area unless you are building it very far away.” 

The number of local subsidy dollars that localities pay to VRE would increase if the extension is built, said Hoeffner. She assured Supervisors the cost of the expansion would be felt in places like Fairfax County, where riders would benefit from more frequent train service if the line is extended.

Hoefner also briefly discussed the potential economic development benefits of building new VRE stations in Haymarket, Gainesville, and Innovation Park. The population around VRE’s Lorton station increased by 43% between 1990 and 2014, according to VRE’s report. She added stations could support greater tax revenue, minimize sprawl, and conserve open space. 

But county leaders on Tuesday were far more inclined to talk about immediate cost taxpayers to expand the line rather than forecasting transit-oriented growth in western Prince William. 

Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe suggested the county’s planning staff review VRE’s study and come back to the Board with a recommendation on whether or not to move forward with the expansion.

Two of the proposed four stations along the B-line could be built in the county’s Brentsville District. 

“I need to be really convinced that the ridership numbers justify the cost,” said Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson. 

VRE plans to hold another public meeting on December 7 to discuss the final findings of the expansion study. If approved, construction of the line should take about two years, with the line opening for service in 2021.

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