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Traffic & Transit

Rules Changing for Drivers on I-95 HOV Lanes


The rules of the road are changing for those who use HOV lanes on Intestate 95.

When the newly built 95 Express toll lanes open in December, a 29-mile stretch of the road from Route 610 in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexnadria, to include a large portion of the existing HOV lanes, will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nearly everyone will need an EZ-Pass to use the lanes — even drivers of hybrid cars. Under the old rules, vehicles with three or more occupants, hybrid cars with a clean fuel designation printed on them, and motorcycles could use the lanes at all times. Under the new rules, motorcyclists can ride free but all other vehicles need an EZ Pass or EZ-Pass Flex.

Here’s more from the Virginia Department of Transportation:


  • Carpools need an E-ZPass Flex
  • Carpools with three or more people can travel toll-free on the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode.   
  • E-ZPass Flex works like a standard E-ZPass but allows carpoolers to switch between HOV and toll-paying modes. The switchable E-ZPass Flex lets the Express Lanes operator know which vehicles are HOV-3+ so that they aren’t charged a toll.  

Drivers of Hybrid Vehicles with Clean Fuel Plates: 


When the 95 Express Lanes open, hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 must pay a toll or have three people in the car to use the Lanes.  The rules affecting hybrids are as follows:

  • Hybrid drivers can ride toll-free on the 95 Express Lanes with three people in the vehicle and an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode; or,
  • They can pay the toll with an E-ZPass if traveling with fewer than three people in the vehicle.
  • The 95 Express Lanes will end just north of Edsall Road. From Edsall Road to Washington, D.C., the HOV lanes will exist with the same rules that are in effect today. Hybrid vehicles with clean fuel plates issued before July 1, 2006 will continue to be allowed to use the HOV lanes without three people in the vehicle on the I-395 HOV lanes. For more information about the transition area just north of Edsall Road on I-395, please visit: 95ExpressLanes.com/transition

Drivers of Trucks, Commercial/18-Wheel Vehicles:  

  • Vehicles with more than two axles – including 18-wheel trucks – will not be permitted to access the 95 Express Lanes.
  • Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles may use the Express Lanes as toll paying customers or they may travel toll-free if they have an E-ZPass Flexset to HOV mode and three or more people in the vehicle.

Law Enforcement Officials: 

  • Local, state or federal law enforcement officials will not be exempt from toll and HOV requirements on the 95 Express Lanes unless in the direct pursuit of their duties, which does not include commuting to and from the workplace.
  • Law enforcement officials can contact the Express Lanes pre or post travel for trips they believe qualify as exempt.  Please contact customercare@expresslanes.com for more information.


  • Motorcycles do not need an E-ZPass.

Unlike the existing HOV lanes, the rules of the road for the new 95 Express Lanes will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends.  Vehicles may not tow trailers on the 95 Express Lanes. HOV-3+ vehicles with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode, motorcycles and transit will have toll-free access to the Express Lanes at all times; drivers with fewer than three occupants can choose to pay a toll with E-ZPass to use the lanes on occasions when they need to get somewhere on time.

Get an E-ZPass:

Drivers can get an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex at more than 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations including Wegmans, select Giant Food Stores, or at one of the E-ZPass Customer Service Centers, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; online or by calling Virginia E-ZPass at (877) 762-7824.  Visit www.ezpassva.com or call the Customer Service Center for more information – (877) 762-7824.

The 95 Express Lanes are being delivered through a public-private partnership between VDOT and Transurban with Fluor-Lane 95, LLC constructing the Express Lanes.  For more information on how I-95 drivers can use the 95 Express Lanes please visit  www.95ExpressLanes.com.  For up-to-date construction information please visit  www.vamegaprojects.com.


Truck Driver Dies in Highway Crash

Photo: Mary Davidson

A tractor-trailer driver was killed in a crash late Friday on Interstate 95 in Prince William County. 

Here’s more in a press release: 

Virginia State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash Friday night (Nov. 7) in Prince William County. The crash occurred on Interstate 95 at the 149 mile marker.

 At 10:52 p.m., Virginia State Police received a call from a motorist about a disabled dump truck blocking the middle northbound lane of I-95 at the 149 mile marker. A trooper was immediately dispatched to assist the truck; however, within two minutes of the first call being received, a northbound tractor-trailer struck the dump truck. The impact of the crash caused both vehicles to overturn. 

 The driver of the tractor-trailer died at the scene. The driver of the dump truck was transported to Sentara Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The Virginia State Police Fairfax Division Crash Reconstruction Team and State Police Motor Carrier Safety Team responded to the scene to assist with the investigation. Northbound I-95 traffic was detoured off at Exit 148 onto Route 1 north. All I-95 lanes were reopened by 4:45 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 8).



Drivers Sit in Jammed Traffic at Quantico

Traffic stacks up at the main gate of Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Quantico Marine Corps Base stalls at 2 gates 


Drivers getting off Interstate 95 heading for the back gate of Quantico slowed early on Wednesday.

A line of cars formed on the shoulder of the northbound side of the highway before exit 148 at the Stafford / Prince William County line. Below the highway, a sea of cars sat on Russell Road with drivers all trying to make their way on to Quantico Marine Corps Base about 7:30 a.m.

Further north at exit 150 at Dumfries / Triangle, another line of cars headed for the main gate of the Marine Corps base formed on the shoulder of the highway. Surrounding roads leading to the main gate Joplin Road and Route 1 were also jammed due to the congestion.

So, what was happening to cause such big delays at both main entry points?

“There was nothing going on. Absolutely nothing,” said Maj. Andrew J. Bormann, a Quantico Marine Corps Base spokesman. “Some days it’s like that, some days it’s not.”

The congestion cleared up after drivers passed the entry gates to the base, added Bormann. Military police guard the gates and check drivers’ IDs and permits affixed to car windshields that permit military personnel and civilian employees access to Quantico.

There was no heightened security at Quantico on Wednesday, and military police were not randomly stopping drivers for security purposes, according to information provided by Bormann.

In 2013, the a federal traffic study was conducted at Quantico’s main gate and along Route 1 ad at Russell Road at Quantico’s back gate, and at nearby Boswells Corner in Stafford County. It found that the traffic operates at “acceptable” levels except in the area of Joplin Road.

If nothing is done to improve overall traffic flow in the area, all of the intersections will be overcapacity by 2040, the study states. Work is underway to widen Route 1 at Boswells Corner, and work to widen Route 1 in Triangle from four to six lanes was recently completed.

Drivers wait in delays at Route 1 and Joplin Road before entrering Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Drivers wait in delays at Route 1 and Joplin Road before entrering Quantico Marine Corps Base.


Heads Up: 95 Express Lanes Signs Unveiled


Drivers on Interstate 95 north are slowing in the mornings and are looking up to see what’s ahead.

New purple signs directing drivers to the newly built 95 Express Lanes are unveiled. With black tarps removed from the overhead signs, drivers can now see they will need to queue up in the left lane to enter the lanes, and they’re warned that an EZ Pass is required to use them.

The 29-mile stretch of express lanes will run from Route 610 in Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria. New lanes have been built from Route 610 to Dumfries, and HOV lanes form Dumfries to Edsall Road will now be express lanes.

When the lanes open in December, single drivers will be able to EZ Pass or EZ Pass Flex pay a toll to use the lanes while carpoolers with three or more occupants must have an EZ Pass Flex to use the lanes.

“We want drivers to be aware that they will start to see new signage but to remember that it is business as usual – and HOV rules still apply – until the Express Lanes open,” said Susan Shaw, PE, Director of VDOT’s Northern Virginia Megaprojects.  “We need to unveil some Express Lanes signs in advance of opening given the volume of new signage for the Express Lanes and to help drivers become familiar with the new rules of the road as well as remind them to take the necessary steps to prepare for the changes by getting an E-ZPass.”

Here’s more information about what the signs say:

·                     Regulatory Signs:  These signs reinforce key Express Lanes information, such as:

–         All drivers need an E-ZPass or E-ZPass® FlexSM to use the Express Lanes – there are no toll booths or options to pay cash

–         Carpoolers travel toll-free on the 95 Express Lanes with three or more people in the vehicle and an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode

–         Buses and two axle vehicles may use the lanes.  Vehicles with three or more axles may not use the lanes at any time


·                      Entry/Exit Signs:  These signs guide drivers on and off the Express Lanes:

–         Entry signs have a purple banner with an E-ZPass logo and “EXPRESS ONLY”

–         Exit signs have white letters on a green background


·         Pricing Signs:  The 95 Express Lanes will use dynamic tolls to provide drivers with a predictable trip:

–         Drivers will see overhead pricing signs before all entrances to the Express Lanes or anytime they have a choice to use the Express Lanes or take the regular lanes

–         The displayed prices change to reflect the current toll prices.  Drivers lock in their rate when they pass under a pricing sign


·         Express Lanes End/HOV Lanes Begin Signs:  Drivers will see special regulatory signs at the Express Lanes/HOV lanes transition point near Edsall Road:

–         When traveling northbound, the Express Lanes end and the HOV lanes begin on I-395 north near Edsall Road:

·         To continue onto the I-395 HOV lanes, drivers must comply with HOV rules

·         Drivers that do not have three people in their car or an applicable clean fuel plate vehicle when the occupancy restriction is in effect on the I-395 HOV lanes should follow signs to exit onto the I-395 northbound regular lanes

–         When traveling southbound, the I-395 HOV lanes end and the Express Lanes begin on I-395 near Edsall Road:

·         Drivers traveling in the HOV lanes should not enter the Express Lanes without an E-ZPass

A total of 300 signs will need to be uncovered prior to the opening of the lanes. EZ Passes are being sold at various retail locations in our area as well as online.


3 Bus Stops Moved for Safety Reasons

New OmniLink buses that serve Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. The buses have a new look more aligned with the overall color scheme for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission. [Submitted photo]

Three bus stops in eastern Prince William County have been moved.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, operators of OmniRide and OmniLink buses, relocated the following stops in Dale City, Woodbridge, and Triangle:

- Dale & Delaney (moving 50 feet west away from intersection): Dale City OmniRide, Rosslyn/Ballston OmniRide, Dale City OmniLink
- Cardinal & Bonneville (moving 100 feet east): Montclair OmniRide
- Old Triangle & Soundview (moving 50 feet north under lamppost): Dumfries OmniLink

The stops were moved due to safety reasons, the transit agency said.

OmniRide buses carry commuters from Prince William County to areas in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

OmniLink buses carry local bus riders in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Score for Commuters: Tysons Bus Spared


Tysons bus fares to rise Dec. 1; changes planned for Mark Center bus


A commuter bus from Prince William County to Tysons Corner survived the chopping block

But riders will soon pay more to use the five-year-old Tysons Express bus service. And the service on the newly planned bus from Prince William to Alexandria’s Mark Center, home to a massive federal building, won’t be as robust as originally planned.

The bus to Tysons Corner carries riders from the Woodbridge Virginia Railway Express station and commuter lot at Route 123 and Interstate 95 to Tysons via relatively new 495 Express toll lanes.

The bus service was fully funded by Virginia’s transportation department while the lanes were being built as a way to get more cars off the road during construction. With the I-495 lanes being open for nearly two years and construction complete, funding for the bus was going to be cut completely.

But the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation stepped in to keep the wheels turning.

“The decision is sure to please the dozens of Tysons Express passengers who attended a September public hearing and sent comments to PRTC urging the agency to find a way to retain a route that many describe as indispensable to their daily commute,” said Christine Rodrigo, a spokeswoman for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, the agency that operates the Tysons Express bus.

Riders currently pay “promotional” fares of $3.60 for a one-way trip on Tysons Express, or $2.90 if riders use a SmarTrip card. Starting Dec. 1, fares will increase to $7.70 if paid with cash or $5.75 with a SmarTrip card.

PRTC also plans to begin operating a new commuter bus service from Prince William to the Mark Center in Alexandria in 2016. Original plans for the new service had the bus traveling to neighborhoods in the county and commuter lots to pick up passengers.

Now, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will shift funds from the Mark Center bus to the Tysons bus to help cover the ongoing cost for the bus.

Rodrigo said PRTC had previously made plans to modify the routing of the new Mark Center bus from picking up riders at commuter lots and not in neighborhoods.

“We looked at our ridership information and saw that few people would board the bus in the neighborhood locations, and having the bus make that run would only add to our operating cost and add to the time the bus would be on the road,” said Rodrigo.

The Tysons bus uses HOV lanes on I-95 to get to the 495 Express Lanes. The HOV lanes are also being converted into toll lanes — a process that is expected to be completed by December.

The 95 Express Lanes open, all vehicles will need an EZ-Pass or EZ-Pass Flex to use the lanes. Vehicles with three or more occupants will not be charged a toll but vehicles with under three occupants may use the lanes for a fee.

The 95 Express Lanes will carry motorists from Garrisonville Road (Route 610) in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria, just before the Mark Center.

Witnesses: Truck Hit Utility Pole, Sped Away


Power lines fell about lunch time


A portion of Horner Road was closed today in Woodbridge this afternoon.

Power lines fell on a portion of the four-lane road near Rawls Street about 12:15 p.m.

Witnesses said a black pick up struck a utility pole causing it to buckle and the power lines to fall onto the street. The heavily damaged truck then sped away, said two witnesses on the scene.

A police cruiser and fire truck was dispatched to the scene to close traffic. Drivers were diverted off of Horner Road and onto side streets where they could access Occoquan Road to get around the downed lines.

The Prince William Service Authority was also called to the scene after a fire hydrant was also damaged in the collision.

No injuries were reported.












Nevada Ranchers Could Cause Manassas Traffic Delays

Grass March - Cowboy Express ride will march through Manassas Battlefield National Park on Oct. 16. [Photo: Grass Ride - Cowboy Express Facebook page]

Horse parade to travel through Battlefield Park at 10 mph


Ranchers from Nevada could cause delays for the morning commute Thursday in Prince William County.

The Grass March and Cowboy Express is expected to wind its way down Route 234 where it meets busy Route 29 at Manassas Battlefield National Park. The march will begin at 4 a.m. and marchers will travel about 10 mph down the roadway on their way to the nation’s capital.

The group of ranchers from Nevada left California on Sept. 26 and have marched their way east. They’re going to Washington, D.C. to present politicians a petition to fire an employee of the Bureau of Land Management.

“The parade of horses and vehicles can only travel at about 10 mph, so motorists are advised to use caution and expect potential delays,” said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Many drivers use Route 234 to connect to Route 29 to commute into Fairfax County. A signal light at the intersection of the two major routes sits in the heart of the park and already does a fair job of backing up traffic in the mornings.


I-95 Express Lanes Opening in December


Drivers urged to plan now for new toll lanes


Your commute on Interstate 95 is going to change sooner than we thought.

The 95 Express Lanes, or HOT lanes, from Garrisonville Road in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria will open in December. That’s about a month earlier than what we were originally told, and now drivers are being told to prepare to use the new lanes where tolls will be charged 24-hours a day but also free for vehicles with three or more occupants.

“The 95 Express Lanes are on track for an early opening which means drivers should start preparing now,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick in a press release. “The conversion from the existing HOV lanes to Express Lanes will mean changes in traffic patterns, rules of the road and an E-ZPass requirement.  The new Express Lanes will impact all drivers who travel on I-95 so it’s important that everyone educate themselves on how the 95 Express Lanes will work.”

When the lanes open, all drivers will need an E-Z Pass to use the all-electronic toll booths to enter the lanes. Unlike other toll roads in the state, the 95 Express Lanes and the 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway from Springfield to Dulles Toll Road do not have manned toll booths.

Virginia still owns the lanes, but private firm Fluor-Transurban will operate and maintain them under a public-private partnership agreement. When work began to in summer 2012 to convert I-95’s HOV lanes to toll lanes, the lanes were extended south from Dumfries to North Stafford to create a 29-mile express lanes corridor on the highway.

A website exists for drivers who want to find out more about how to use the lanes and where to get an E-Z Pass. The lanes will feature dynamic pricing where prices will rise as more single drivers enter the lanes, and prices will fall as fewer drivers use the lanes. An E-Z Pass will lock in the variable toll rate single drivers will pay for their trip, and those rates will vary on how far drivers travel in the lanes.

Drivers with three or more occupants inside their vehicles can use an E-Z Pass Flex transponder which has a toggle switch that allows them to switch between single-driver mode and carpooler mode. Drivers in carpooling mode are not charged to use the lanes.

VDOT Erects Crane Along HOV Lanes

Commuters who use Interstate 395 can see a crane that has been erected on I-395 at the Mark Center in Alexandria. [Photo: Mike  Salmon/Virginia Megaprojects]

Crane part of Seminary Road bridge project in Alexandria 


At Seminary Road and I-395 near the Mark Center, this 150-foot crane will be the work horse of a multi-tiered Virginia Department of Transportation project that is underway.

This fall, the crane will be used to begin demolition of the old Seminary Road bridge, extracting beam and deck sections, and then placing new beams to rebuild the bridge.

Early in 2015, the crane will lift the beams for the Interstate 395 HOV Ramp, which will link the I-395 HOV lanes to Seminary Road. Concurrently, it will be used to place beams for the new pedestrian bridge that will span both the northbound and southbound lanes of I-395.

The crane will be dismantled by late 2015 when the improvements are completed.

Officials Move Forward with Garrisonville Road Widening

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

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – More of Garrisonville Road will soon be widened to six lanes.

The street serves as North Stafford’s main thoroughfare connecting nearly all of the neighborhoods in the area to Interstate 95, a major commuter route. The road will be widened from four to six lanes from Onville Road (where the road was widened from four to six lanes in 2008) to Shenandoah Drive, just past Eustace Road at a WaWa gas station.

Documents presented a meeting of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors detail more information about the project that is expected to cost $14 million:

Garrisonville Road improvements were designed in accordance with current [Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)] requirements. Basic components of the design…include the widening of Garrisonville Road to a six-lane, divided roadway, which meets current VDOT standards. The design will also provide turn lanes where warranted, curb and gutter, and a 5-foot sidewalk for pedestrians, along both sides of Garrisonville Road.The project also includes storm water management facilities, and historical and environmental analysis to meet current state and local requirements. It is anticipated that this project will severely impact at least two parcels, possibly requiring the relocation of one commercial business and two residences.

Those two properties will have to be acquired by the state before construction moves ahead.

“The project has the potential to impact one business near the intersection of Barrett Heights Road and one or two residences located on the south side of Garrisonville Road east of Dorothy Lane,” said Stafford County spokeswoman Shannon Howell. “The Department of Public Works, in coordination with our engineers…will coordinate the acquisition of the properties. There is a potential to assist with business relocation and the expenses of business relocation as part of the acquisition process.”

Construction on the project is slated to begin in January and is slated to take 18 months, said Howell.

“The average daily vehicle count on Route 610 is 74,000 vehicles per day — that is the segment between Travis Lane and Interstate 95, which is the busiest segment,” stated VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon in an email.

River Road in Stafford County Closing for Tree Removal

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A section of River Road in Stafford County will be closed to traffic on Thursday, Sept. 11 and Friday, Sept. 12 for tree removal.

River Road will close between Route 3 Business, near Chatham Bridge, and the entrance to Pratt Park between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. this Thursday and Friday. The River Road entrance to Pratt Park will remain open to traffic approaching from the Route 1 area.

A contractor will be removing trees along River Road as part of a U.S. Department of the Interior project.

Next week, River Road will close again at the same location from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 15 and Tuesday, Sept. 16. 

Reversible HOV Lanes Changing Schedule Following Intense Summer Construction


Beginning on or about Monday, September 8, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will change the reversal times of the I-95/I-395 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to their regular hours during weekdays, to accommodate rush-hour traffic flow. The I-95/395 HOV lanes will remain open to northbound traffic until 11 a.m. and will reopen to southbound traffic by no later than 1 p.m.

The HOV lanes’ reversible operations have been following a modified schedule during the last two months, to allow the lanes to open one hour earlier for southbound traffic. This schedule change was necessary to help ease congestion on I-95 South, which was intensified due to heavy summer construction work.

Major construction remains underway along Northern Virginia’s heavily-traveled I-95/395 corridor, requiring lane closures with potential traffic impacts.  The 95 Express Lanes project, which spans from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to just north of Edsall Road on I-395 in Alexandria, is in its final months of construction, and is scheduled to open in early 2015. Additionally, work is fully ramped up on the I-95 Shoulder Improvement project in Prince William County, as well as the I-395 North Auxiliary Lane project in Alexandria.

It’s Transition Time at North Stafford Commuter Lot — Starting Monday

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – Park at the Staffordboro Road commuter lot near the Stafford Marketplace shopping center? 

There are some big changes you need to know about. Here’s the latest from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Traffic will be transitioned to a new parking section in the Staffordboro Boulevard Park & Ride lot in Stafford County beginning Monday, Sept. 8.

New parking spaces will open as the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) closes the existing Park & Ride lot for refurbishment.

This is the final stage in an 18-month construction project to add nearly 1,000 spaces to the lot. Work is anticipated to finish on time with all parking spaces open by late October 2014.  

“We encourage motorists to arrive a few minutes early on Monday, Sept. 8 to meet their carpool, vanpool or bus, or to use the new HOV carpooling pickup area,” said Michael Coffey, P.E., VDOT Assistant District Administrator for Construction, Fredericksburg District. “We appreciate the public’s patience while we finish this final phase of construction. We look forward to opening the entire lot in October with new pavement, bright lane markings, and more than 1,800 parking spaces.”

VDOT has posted a map online of the new parking section and traffic patterns that will be in place during the transition period.

What Lot Users Need to Know

  • The existing Park & Ride lot will close at 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5.
  • The existing lot will remain closed until the end of the project. VDOT is paving the lot and painting new lane markings.
  • There is no net loss of parking spaces. Before this phase of construction, 882 parking spaces were available, and 912 spaces will be available on Monday, Sept. 8.
  • HOV carpooling (also known as slugging) will move to a designated area in the new section of the lot. Signs will be posted to direct users to this pickup area.
  • Buses should collect passengers at the new bus bay area, and follow the recommended traffic patterns to enter and exit the lot.
  • The number of handicapped accessible parking spaces will double to 28 spaces.

About the Project

Construction began in May 2013 on a $12.9 million expansion of the Staffordboro Boulevard Park & Ride facility, which is maintained by VDOT.

When fully open in October, the finished lot will have 1,865 parking spaces.

While the project was under design, VDOT invited Fredericksburg area commuters to submit suggestions to promote safe and orderly traffic flow. The expanded commuter lot will include:

  • A consolidated, central location for carpool pickup and dropoff  

  • A bus pickup and dropoff bay that can accommodate 4 passenger buses

  • An extended sidewalk along Staffordboro Boulevard

  • Left and right turn lanes into a new lot entrance on Staffordboro Boulevard

  • A roundabout that connects the commuter lot to Doc Stone Road, Juggins Road and Moncure Lane, improving access management to the site. 

More Options Coming for Montclair Commuters


Changes also planned for Dale City State Department route

MONTCLAIR, Va. – Starting on November 17, some bus riders from Montclair bound for Downtown Washington will no longer have to stop at the Pentagon.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which operates OmniRide commuter buses from Prince William County, plans to add more trips to buses that carry riders from the Montclair community to the Pentagon and Downtown.

PRTC will change the routing for some of the buses so fewer riders will have to stop and sit at the Pentagon before arriving in Washington.

Growing ridership on the bus route and a survey conducted by PRTC in spring, where riders said they wanted the changes, prompted the new routing.

“Ridership on this route has grown steadily and, for some time, riders have been urging PRTC to disaggregate the service so downtown D.C. – bound riders are not subject to the intermediate Pentagon stop,” penned PRTC Director Alfred Harf in his monthly report to be presented at the commission’s board meeting on Thursday.

Once the change is complete, there will two Montclair bus routes rather than one. Right now, there are 13 morning and 17 evening buses that stop at the Pentagon and Downtown Washington. After the change, just three morning and four afternoon buses will serve both stops.

Also beginning Nov. 17, six morning and eight afternoon Montclair buses will serve Downtown Washington. A total of seven morning and 10 afternoon Montclair buses will serve only the Pentagon.

There will also be changes to a Dale City OmniRide bus that serves the U.S. State Department coming Nov. 18. Declining ridership due to a decrease in the federal transit benefit means the number of buses on this route will be reduced from 24 to 22 in the morning and afternoon, stated Harf. The commuter transit benefit was reduced from $240 per month to $125 per month, added Harf.

The changes are part of the transit agency’s all fall service change.

*Correction: PRTC’s fall service change will take effect Nov.17, not Nov. 18 as first reported. The incorrect date was contained in a PRTC report.

Running on Empty: Prince William’s Tysons Express Bus on Chopping Block

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – It was always a possibility that one day the bus which carries commuters from Woodbridge to Tysons Corner could stop running. Not because it ran out of gas, but money.

The Tysons OmniRide bus, which provides commuter service along the newly opened 495 Express Lanes, is poised to cease when Virginia pulls funding for service. The bus started running in 2009 at the height of construction on the 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway. The idea was to take more people off the highways, and the state picked up the tab.

The Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway opened in 2012, and new Express Lanes on Intestate 95 are set to open next year. When complete, they’ll connect with the lanes on the Capital Beltway, providing vehicles with three or more occupants, buses, and motorcycles a seamless, free, predictable commute from North Stafford to Tysons Corner. Single drivers or those with only one passenger may choose to pay to use the new lanes.

Now that Express Lane construction on I-95 is nearing an end, the 100% state subsidy will also end. PRTC proposes to stop operating the commuter bus route in November 2014 because the special purpose for its implementation has been fulfilled and because ridership numbers are lower than what was expected, plateauing at about 165 riders per day.

– PRTC press release 

PRTC will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 10 inside their transit center in Woodbridge to get public comments on whether the bus should stay or go. But looking at the financial climate at PRTC, and noting that Prince William County would become the majority funder of the bus route at some $200,000 annually – the decision to end the service may already be made.

“Please remember that the Tysons route was implemented specifically to relieve congestion during the construction of the I-495 Express Lanes, and the state later decided to continue its 100% sponsorship of the route during construction of the I-95 Express Lanes. The PRTC Board of Commissioners explicitly stated in 2008 when it agreed to operate the route that it was not committing to continue the route once the state’s 100% funding ended,” stated PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo in an email.

So far, there has been no new funding source identified to pay for the service. Fares cannot do it alone.

Though launched in 2009, PRTC says the Tyson’s bus didn’t hit its stride until three years later, according to statistics provided by the transit agency:

– Peak ridership was 178 per day, but average daily ridership is 163 per day. When the route started, we projected that average daily ridership would be 240. There are 4 trips to Tysons in the mornings, and 5 trips from Tysons in the afternoons/evenings, so each bus carries an average of 18 passengers.

– Peak ridership was reached in Oct 2012, dropped off over the winter and then peaked again in Nov 2013.

Talk about ending the Tysons bus comes as construction of the 95 Express Lanes – the equivalent to the little cousin of the 495 Express Lanes project – is still underway. 

So, what if PRTC decided to keep the Tysons bus and cut another service? That’s unlikely. Rodrigo put it to PotomacLocal.com in an email: 

… PRTC is facing a possible financial crisis in FY2017 when the County’s current source of public transportation funding (the reserve built up from previous years when the 2.1% fuels tax brought in more revenue than the county spent on PRTC and VRE) is exhausted. PRTC is always looking for ways to cut expenses and spend wisely, and those efforts are especially vital now with the possibility of significant cuts to service and workforce reductions if the financial crisis isn’t resolved. We could not justify changes to other routes or the delay/cancellation of projects that would impact far more passengers in order to sustain the Tysons route. Frankly there is no remaining low-hanging fruit.

Here are the details of  the public hearing in case you want to go:

The public hearing will be held on September 10 at 7 p.m. at the PRTC Transit Center in Woodbridge. Those who cannot attend the public hearing may submit written comments until 5 p.m., September 17, 2014, via email to publichearing@OmniRide.com or by mailing the comments to PRTC, Attn: Public Hearing, 14700 Potomac Mills Road, Woodbridge, VA  22192. A PowerPoint presentation with information about the route and more detailed reasons for its proposed cessation are available at PRTCtransit.org.

New Video Shows How to Use 95 Express Lanes

[Photo: VDOT]

We’re getting closer to the opening of the 95 Express Lanes.

The new lanes will carry drivers from Garrisonville Road in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Alexandria, allowing vehicles with three or more occupants to ride free while single drivers will be able to pay a toll to avoid traffic congestion.

The builders of the new lanes have created a new video to help orient users of the new lanes. You can view the video by clicking here.

While the majority of the lanes existing in the current footprint of the HOV lanes, which have been improved as part of the project, new lanes have been built and stretch from the current HOV lane terminus in Dumfries to North Stafford.

The $925 million project is slated to be complete early next year. When complete, the lanes will also connect with the 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway, between Springfield and Tysons Corner.

Updated: Expect Road Work, Delays on U.S. 1 in Boswell’s Corner Postponed

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

Updated Thursday, Aug. 21

From the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Lane closures at Route 1 and Telegraph Road in Stafford County scheduled for this weekend have been postponed due to forecasted weather conditions. The work will be rescheduled for a later date.

All lanes of Route 1 and Telegraph Road will remain open this weekend. 

Original post Tuesday, Aug. 19

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. – Drivers who take U.S. 1 on weekends should prepare for some delays in North Stafford. 

The Virginia Department of Transportation says roadwork in Boswell’s Corner area will cause minor delays this weekend: 

Motorists may experience minor travel delays Friday evening and Saturday at the Route 1 and Telegraph Road intersection in Stafford County’s Boswells Corner area due to road construction.

Between 10 p.m. Friday, August 22 and 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, southbound Route 1 will be reduced to one travel lane for several hundred feet at the Telegraph Road intersection.

Also, Telegraph Road will be reduced to one travel lane between Route 1 and the Interstate 95 overpass. Traffic will alternate driving in the remaining open lane, directed by a flagging crew.

This project is adding turn lanes at the intersection of Route 1 and Telegraph Road. It is being administered by the Federal Highway Administration-Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division. This weekend, lane closures are needed so workers can build a right turn lane from Telegraph Road to southbound Route 1.

Construction work is expected to conclude in fall 2014. For more information, please visit the EFLHD project webpage

Boswell’s Corner is just south of the Prince William County line and the rear entrance to Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Overnight I-95 Express Lanes Closures Continue

[Photo: VDOT]

Weather permitting, at 11 p.m. Friday night, August 15, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will close the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-395/95 from the Washington D.C., line to the end at Dumfries Road (Route 234) until 8 a.m. Saturday, August 16, and again on Saturday night at 11 p.m. until 8 a.m., Sunday morning, August 17. The closures are needed for overnight construction on the 95 Express Lanes Project.

Schedule of HOV hours of operation:

1. Saturday morning, August 16 by 8 a.m.:

  • HOV lanes open in the southbound direction from Washington, D.C. to the exit at Turkeycock (Edsall Road) where all motorists must exit the lanes and merge onto the I-395 south general purpose lanes.

  • HOV lanes closed between Turkeycock (Edsall Road) and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway (Route 289).

  • HOV lanes open to southbound traffic south of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway (Route 289) to Dumfries Road (Route 234). Traffic can re-enter the HOV lanes just after the Franconia-Springfield Parkway (Route 289) via a left lane slip ramp. 

  • During this work, there will be no direct access to I-95 south HOV lanes via the Franconia-Springfield Parkway (Route 289).

2. Saturday afternoon, August 16, by 2 p.m.: All HOV lanes will be closed for reversal    


3. Saturday afternoon, August 16, no later than 4 p.m.: HOV lanes open to traffic heading

    north from Turkeycock exit (Edsall Road) to Washington, D.C.

4. Saturday night, August 16, by 11 p.m.: HOV facility will close in its entirety from Dumfries
    Road (Route 234) to Washington, D.C.

5. Sunday morning, August 17, by 8 a.m.: Entire HOV facility will open northbound.

Drivers Dealing with Flash Flooding Across Area

Flash flooding is occurring on roadways across the region.

A flash flood warning from the National Weather Service is in effect until 5:15 p.m.

Here’s the latest from the weather service:













 Prince William police say drivers on the following roads in the county are currently seeing flash flooding: 

East End Locations:

Old Bridge Rd/Troupe St

  • Mud covering roadway — Passable

Tanyard Hill Rd between Town of Occoquan & Old Bridge Rd

  • Water covering roadway — Passable

Neabsco Rd/Jefferson Davis Hwy

  • Water covering roadway — Passable

Old Triangle Rd/Orange St

  • High water on Old Triangle Rd — One lane not passable

West End Locations:

Wellington Rd/Vulcan Ln

  • Water covering roadway — Passable

Aden Rd/Parkgate Dr

  • Water covering roadway — One lane passable

Brentsville Rd/Bradley Forest Rd

  • Water covering roadway — Passable

If you need to report high water or impassable roadways, please call the non-emergency number at 703-792-6500.

Officials in Stafford County are seeing flooding on some streets, too:

Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is reporting road closures at Harrell Road, the intersection of Rt.1 & Kings Crest and the 100 block of Sanford Rd.



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