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Traffic & Transit

Highways to Fill with Holiday Travelers

Drivers travel north on Interstate 95 at Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/

Traveling by car this Memorial Day weekend? You’re not alone.

Nine out of 10 people in the Washington area are expected to pack the car and head to their vacation destination spot this weekend to herald the unofficial start of summer.

Many of them will travel more than 50 miles to their destinations, a break from the past when more people chose to stay home due to high gas prices and a troubled economy.

“Scrimp and save and still go. That’s the new travel reality and paradigm for Washington area travelers during the first holiday weekend of summer,” said AAA Mid Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II. “Amazingly, more Washington residents, nine out of ten, will travel by automobile this year than last, even with sky-high gasoline prices along the way. In fact, automobile travel continues to be the dominant mode of transportation for local residents this Memorial Day.”

More people from our area will be traveling this weekend than last Memorial Day, an expected 1.4 percent increase.

Room rates are nearby beaches, Virginia Beach and Ocean City, Md., are well over $200 per night and many have been sold out.

Travelers told AAA Mid Atlantic they will spend less while at their destination spots to compensate on fuel prices.

The automobile agency says auto travel is expected to be up this year slightly, by 0.7 percent, air travel up by 12.7 percent, and all other forms of travel down by 11.2 percent.

Gas prices are also higher this year than they were last year.  The average price for a gallon of gas in the Potomac Communities averages $3.87 per gallon, according to AAA Fuel Price Finder.

Last year, the average price for a gallon of gas in the same areas was $2.75.

Seat belt Enforcement Campaign Underway

Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane

Prince William County, Va. –– As the Memorial holiday weekend approaches, police in Prince William are taking no excuses about not wearing seat belts in vehicles.

Officers want drivers and passengers to know it’s the law, and that they’re cracking down.

“More than ever, we need to continue to make the case that seat belts really do work,” he said.

“We will do that by hitting the roads and enforcing all traffic laws 24/7, no excuses, no warnings, and we will be paying particular attention to seat belt use,” said Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane.

Prince William police say there have been five fatal car crashes during the first five months of the year, adding urgency to this year’s campaign.

Drivers should expect to see more police officers on patrol both day and night, from now until Monday June 6.

Seat belts are required in Virginia, and police also remind drivers:

– All children under the age of eight must ride in a secured safety seat that’s federally

– Children between eight and 15 must use a safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt no
matter where in the vehicle the child is riding.

-It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all children age 15 and under are properly

Decatur Road Reopened to Traffic

Stafford County, Va. –– Work to repair the drainage on Decatur Road is complete and the road reopened to traffic.

Earlier this month, transportation officials announced a detour for traffic on the roadway that would take drivers around where the work was being done at Widewater and Decatur roads.

The project was expected to cost $150,000, and it was aimed at improving the drainage on the roads at that intersection.

Amtrak Train Catches Fire, Sparks Delays

Update 4 p.m.
An Amtrak train that caught fire this afternoon at Quantico is once again on the move.

Train 92 from Miami to New York City made an unscheduled stop when an electrical fire erupted on the train just before 3 p.m.

Amtrak officials say they no one was injured when some rail cars began to fill with smoke, and affected passengers were moved to other cars on the train.

An exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Virginia Railway Express service on the Fredericksburg line does not appear to have been affected.

Original Post 3:10 p.m.
Quantico, Va. ––
Virginia Railway Express officials say all rail traffic has been stopped at Quantico.

Fire and rescue crews are working to douse a fire near the town’s train station, were told.

A Quantico spokesman says the base does not have any information at this time about the closure.

VRE says it’s still too early to predict how this might affect the afternoon rush hour on the rails.

Last year, a freight train derailed at Quantico which also halted rail traffic up and down the east coast.

Changes Coming to Area Street Signs

Prince William County, Va. –– Street signs in Prince William will soon look different.

The letters on the green signposts that mark streets are changing to have both upper and lowercase letters to make them easier to read.

The change is part of a federal mandate that requires the street signs to use both upper and lowercase letters, but the feds are not providing funding for the change, said Prince William County spokeswoman Nicole Brown.

The new signs will have a larger uppercase letter in the first word on the sign so the letters are visible to older drivers. The new signs will also be more reflective, said Brown.

The blue street signs that hang on signal light posts around the county will also be changed to meet the new federal mandates.

Agencies must making changes to signs in January.


Public Agencies are allowed to phase-in their compliance as outlined below:

January 22, 2012
Implement a method to maintain minimum levels of retroreflectivity

January 22, 2015
Replace regulatory, warning, and ground-mounted guide signs

January 22, 2018
Replace overhead guide signs and street name signs

Man Pulled from Wrecked U-Haul

A man was pulled from a crash on U.S. 1 in North Stafford on Tuesday afternoon. (Uriah Kiser/

North Stafford, Va. –– Fire and rescue crews pulled a man from an overturned U-Haul this afternoon on U.S. 1.

The victim has yet to be identified, and was pulled from the vehicle about 30 minutes after the crash was reported at 12:51 p.m., at the Prince William – Stafford County line.

The unidentified victim was taken to a local hospital, and his condition has not been released.

The crash closed a portion of southbound U.S. 1, just past Russell Road and the back gate to Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Witnesses who were driving in the opposite direction say the driver was traveling in the southbound direction and appeared to have simply run off of the road into a ditch into some trees, landing in a muddy bed of grass and water.

With smoke billowing from the engine compartment of the crashed truck, several drives stopped to help the driver of the U-Haul, witnesses said.

“I ran over to him and he was screaming “help, please don’t leave me here,” said David Adeniran of Stafford, who was headed to Washington when the crash occurred.

Adenrian, and another driver, Paula Love of Stafford, called 911.

“He was beeping his horn for help,” said Love.

Many others also stopped to help, many bringing with them fire extinguishers, said Love.

The highway was reopened about 2 p.m.

610 Widening Nearing Completion

A crawler excavator dumps dirt onto what will become the widened portion of Va. 610 in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson)

North Stafford, Va. –– Good news for drivers: work to widen North Stafford’s main thoroughfare is nearing completion.

Crews on Monday will begin work one of the final stages of widening Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) at Joshua Road.

Drivers will notice brief delays and period lane shifts the construction area, said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tina Bundy.

The delays will come as crews lay new pavement in the intersection of the two roads over the next 30 days.

The overall $8.3 million project will widen Va. 610 from two to four lanes near Joshua Road, and should be complete by August, said Bundy.

A larger project to widen Va. 610 from four to six lanes near Interstate 95 was completed in 2008.

Massive Delays Plague 95, U.S. 1

Ft. Belvoir, Va. –– It’s a parking lot outside Ft. Belvoir right now, as delays on Interstate 95 and the scheduled closure of the military installation’s main gate this morning have made for a commuter nightmare.

Ft. Belvoir closed its Tulley Gate at Richmond Highway (U.S. 1), the main entrance to the base, for dedication ceremony for Army Staff Sgt. Jon Linde, who was killed in the line of duty in 2007.

A visitor’s center at the main gate is being named after Linde.

“It’s been a horrendous day for traffic in the area with delays on 95. We planned the closure of this gate to be about an hour this morning to honor the memory of the fallen soldier,” said Ft. Belvoir spokesman Travis Edwards.

Drivers who needed to access the base were told to go to the Pence Gate, about one mile north on U.S. 1.

Traffic on I-95 was backed up for much of the morning from Prince William Parkway to the Springfield mixing bowl, and  then from Springfield onto I-395 to the 14th Street Bridge.

Drivers encountered a new traffic pattern at the bridge this morning as crews work to rehabilitate the structure.

Delays Reported on 95, U.S. 1

Drivers travel north on Interstate 95 at Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/

Update 9:20 a.m.
A crash on Interstate 95 at mile post 148 is to blame for serious delays on the highway and U.S. 1, Stafford sheriff’s officials say.

Original Post 9 a.m.
Stafford County, Va. ––
Stafford authorities are reporting a major backup on northbound U.S. 1 and Interstate 95.

Drivers on I-95 are reporting backups from mile post 138, and drivers on U.S. 1 say traffic is backed up from the Rappahannock Regional Jail.

Officials say they do not know what is causing the back up.

We’ll have more on this as we get it.

VRE Will Hold 2 Chat Sessions Today

Virginia Railway Express will hold an online forum today at noon.

VRE CEO Dale Zehner will be available to answer questions about your commute.

Click this link to participate in the online forum. Once there, click the “ask” button to submit your question and then wait for it to be answered, according to VRE.

Participants who cannot participate in the live chat can still submit their question early and check back later to see if it was answered.

VRE management will also be at the Franconia-Springfield station this afternoon to meet and greet riders.

Police Urge Vigilance, VRE Increases Security

Terrorism is not off the minds of those who protect, serve, and transport us to and from work.

Virginia State Police today urge residents to stay vigilant, and as they have during the past nine months, continue to remind people that if they see something suspicious they should tell authorities.

“At this time, there is no known direct threat against Virginia or its infrastructure as a result of these recent events,” said Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty. “We simply want to remind our citizens to stay attune to their surroundings and environment, and to always report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

There is also increased vigilance today on Virginia Railway Express.

The system has 130 undercover plain-clothes officers who ride the trains who, along with uniformed officers, are keeping a close watch on the transit system.

“Additionally, we have communicated with our local (local jurisdictional law enforcement) and federal partners (TSA) to increase their awareness at our stations. The local law enforcement agencies have promised to have a greater presentence at stations in their jurisdictions, while TSA will increase their presence at destination stations,” stated VRE spokesman Mark Roeber in an email.

The increased vigilance comes after President Obama on Sunday night confirmed U.S. special forces had shot and killed the world’s most wanted terrorist –– Osama Bin Laden.

Since the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 –– masterminded by Bin Laden –– the nation has undergone sweeping security changes that have affected nearly all aspects of life in the U.S.

Virginia State Police have partnered with the Department of Homeland Security on the “See something, say something,” which urges residents to call 911, local police or sheriff’s office in the event someone spots something out of the ordinary.

Callers may also dial #77 on a cell phone to reach state police, or call Virginia’s Terrorist Tip Hotline at 1-877-4VA-TIPS.

Crash, Oil Spill Cause Massive Delays

Update 1 p.m.
Clean up for the crashed truck and subsequent oil spill is expected to take four hours.

According to Virginia State Police, the closed portion of the Capital Beltway, near Telegraph Road in Alexandria, should reopen about 3 p.m.

Traffic will be diverted from the roadway until then.

Original Post 11:45 a.m.
Alexandria, Va. ––
Virginia officials are calling a tractor trailer crash that included a large oil spill on Interstate 95 a major highway incident.

The tractor trailer crashed on I-95 at Telegraph Road in Fairfax County, just before the Wilson Bridge, about 11 a.m.

The Capital Beltway in that area remains shut down as rescue crews work at assess the situation.

The oil leak has been stopped and a cleanup crew called into wipe up the spill, said Fairfax County fire and rescue spokesman Dan Schmidt.

There are major delays now on the Outer Loop of the Beltway.

We’ll bring you more on this as we get

New Slug Lines, Shuttle Bus Start Monday

Woodbridge, Va. –– Some new Slug lines are coming to the area beginning Monday.

Three of the new lines will be at the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge –– an underused commuter lot now leased by Prince William County.

The other set of lines will be at the Interstate 95 Commuter lot at Gordon Boulevard (Va. 123) east of the highway in Woodbridge.

The new morning lines at the church will take commuters to Rosslyn, the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza, according to Editor David LeBlanc.

More to the Story: Also happening Monday, more seats will be added to Virginia Railway Express trains.

The line for Rosslyn commuters will form in the front portion of the parking lot, while the lines for the Pentagon and L’Enfant will form in the rear portion of the lot.

In the afternoon, a new shuttle service at the Horner Road commuter at I-95 and Prince William Parkway will be able to ferry commuters back to the church lot.

Afternoon commuters may slug back to the Horner Road lot or they can take an OmniRide bus from Washington.

“Since the vast majority of all bus service runs through Horner Road this will allow slugs to take any bus to Horner and then take the shuttle to [First Baptist Church],” said LeBlanc.

The shuttle buses will be marked with “special” in all capital letters, so commuters will know the difference between the shuttle and commuter buses.

The First Baptist Church has 350 commuter parking spaces and was leased by Prince William County after Potomac Mills mall reduced commuter parking by 75 percent.

The two new lines at the I-95 commuter lot, also an underused commuter lot, will be for commuters bound for Downtown Washington, including 14th and 18th streets.

In the afternoon, commuters who parked at this lot should use the Slug lines bound for the Old Hechinger’s commuter lot, at Va. 123 and Old Bridge Road, said LeBlanc.

Slugs are commuters who ride in vehicles of three or more occupants to use the High Occupancy Express lanes on I-95 and 395.

Despite High Prices, Drivers Urged to Fill Up

Stafford, Va. –– Gas prices are on the incline, but transportation experts urge drivers to fill up sooner than later.

In Stafford County this week regular unleaded gas prices are averaging $3.87 per gallon, up 35 cents from this time last month. The most expensive gas in the neighborhood can be found at the Sunoco station on Courthouse Road, where it’ll cost you $3.97 a gallon to fill your tank, according to AAA Mid Atlantic’s gas price finder.

That’s nearly $60 to fill a 15-gallon gas tank.

The price goes up the further north you travel. In Woodbridge the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.60.

In Lorton? Gas prices there have topped $4 per gallon, as the average price per gallon is now $4.03.

Nationwide, drivers are paying 35 percent more for a gallon of gas than they did this time last year, according to the Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

With prices so high many drivers are tempting fate and seeing how long they can go without filling up. That’s a bad idea, says AAA Mid Atlantic.

Running on fumes can cause damage to your car, and if you run out of gas you could be dangerously stranded in the middle of nowhere.

“Think gas is really expensive now?  If you are thinking about running around on fumes, you better think again because that could only be the beginning of your troubles,” said Mid-Atlantic’s spokesman John B. Townsend II. “It can lead to fuel system damage that can cost you more in the long run. In fact, running on empty or running out of gas may cause the electric fuel pump inside the fuel tank to overheat. The cost to replace this one component alone can be $500 or more in parts and labor.”

Townsend says AAA roadside assistance drivers in the Washington area have noted a 39-percent increase in calls related to drivers running out of gas.

AAA Mid Atlantic reminds drivers to not let the gas gauge dip below the quarter tank level.

95 Jumper Dies

Update 2:30 p.m.
Police say the 56-year-old man from Prince William County who jumped from a bridge onto Interstate 95 this morning has died.

State troopers found the man lying in the roadway, at mile post 152, just after 8 a.m. He was flown to Fairfax Innova Hospital where he later died, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

State police will not release the victim’s name because of the nature of the incident.

Update 9:20 a.m.
Virginia State Police say they found a man lying on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 this morning.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the man was lying in the southbound lanes north of mile post 152, the exit for Dumfries Road (Va. 234).

All of the southbound lanes of the highway were reopened just before 9 a.m.

Initial reports indicate the man jumped from a bridge that carries Va. 234 traffic over I-95.

Original Post 8:50 a.m.
Dumfries, Va. –– Virginia State Police say they found a man lying on the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 this morning.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the man was lying in the southbound lanes north of mile post 152, the exit for Dumfries Road (Va. 234).

All of the southbound lanes of the highway were reopened just before 9 a.m.

Dumfries, Va. –– Traffic is moving slowly on Interstate 95 in Dumfries right now after someone reportedly jumped off an overpass.

It happened about 8:20 a.m., at the intersection of Dumfries Road (Va. 234) and I-95.

Virginia State Police are on the scene and we’ll bring you more on this as it develops.

Expect Road Detours

Stafford County, Va. –– Residents should get ready for another road closure.

Beginning Monday May 2, Decatur Road at the intersection of Widewater Road will close for two weeks as crews work to repair the drainage on the shoulders of the roads.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has placed electronic message board signs in the area to warn drivers of the impending closure.

There has been a detour route set up for drivers to use: drivers should use Brent Point Road to Arkendale Road, where signs will guide drivers along the recommended route, said VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon.

The project is expected to cost $150,000, and when completed will have improved the drainage on the roads in the area, added Hannon.

Crews are also working on replacing the Potomac Creek Bridge in Stafford County. That work has also brought changes in travel patterns in the county.

This Way to New York City

Lorton, Va. –– It’s been said if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.

Travelers headed to New York City via the Potomac Communities have even more advanced warning on which road to take after a new highway sign was erected in Lorton.

The new sign sits above the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 just past the Purple Heart Bridge over the Occoquan River.

It’s there to tell motorists the exit to New York City will be coming up on the left lane in about eight miles.

It’s a departure from the old signage configuration that had a reputation for leading some drivers astray after they went through the old Springfield interchange.

“Now that the interchange is rebuilt, the exit to get on the outer loop is a left-hand exit, and the signs are there to make sure motorists are aware of that. If someone bound for New York did not catch the left-hand exit, they would be either stuck on 395 and [have to go] through DC or they would take the exit for 495 to Tysons and have to go around the beltway the long way,” said Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Salmon.

New York City is 245 miles from Lorton, and it takes about five hours to get there from here in decent traffic.

As travelers head north on I-95, this new sign is the first on the highway between Richmond and Washington to direct northbound travelers to the Big Apple.

Better Find a Parking Space or Risk a Ticket

Police will begin issuing tickets for commuters who park illegally at the Dumfries commuter lot on Monday. (File photo)

Dumfries, Va. –– A commuter crackdown is coming to parking lots in the Woodbridge area.

Police in the coming days will begin an increased commuter parking enforcement in eastern Prince William County.

Beginning Monday, officers first plan to target the commuter lot at U.S. 1 and Dumfries Road (Va. 234), and ticket those who are not parked in a proper parking space.

Prince William police told Prince William Board of Supervisor members that parking is “out of control” at the lot, and say some drivers have illegally parked on crosswalks and other unwelcomed spots.

Police say they have been more lenient since on commuters who park at the lots, then catch a bus or Slug (ride in vehicles of three or more occupants) to get to work, since the number of commuter parking spaces at Potomac Mills mall was reduced from 700 to 250 on Valentine’s Day.

Electronic messaging signs will go up in the affected lots to warn drivers of the increased enforcement, police say.

Virginia State Police recently began cracking down on commuters who park at the Mine Road and Staffordborough commuter lots off Garrisonville Road (Va. 610) in North Stafford.

That crackdown began following a visit from Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton.

Much like at lots in Prince William, police in Stafford say many drivers illegally park along the sides of the parking lot and impede traffic

VRE Wants to Curb Standing on Trains

A Virginia Railway Express train pulls into the Woodbridge station. (File Photo: Mary Davidson)

If you’re standing up on a VRE train, you’d better be ready to get off the train.

VRE CEO Dale Zehner stated in an email to riders on Friday riders should only stand, or queue, as trains are pulling into stations. If riders are standing, it must mean they want to get off the train, or detrain, stated Zehner.

The commuter railroad years ago had a no-standing policy in effect on the system’s Fredericksburg line. But as trains became more popular with riders, and the amount of available seating became limited, it went away.

The policy has been effectively reinstated as a pilot program on Manassas line train 329, and plans are to roll it out on the rest of the system.

The queuing policy comes as VRE plans to add more railcars to trains beginning May 2.

As part of the plan, three morning and afternoon trains on the Fredericksburg line will see increased seating capacity. Two Manassas line trains will also see more seats.

Zehner says conductor will not enforce the no-standing policy when all of the seats are taken, but adds riders should sit down when more open seats become available.

“For those of you who prefer to queue, remember that not everyone wants to, or is able to, stand for 10-15 minutes on a moving train.  Allowing everyone the opportunity to detrain at their station means that everyone will get home on-time,” stated Zehner.

Riders headed into Washington on VRE often have problems exiting trains at the Crystal City station, stated Zehner.

Conductors on afternoon trains have been told to enforce the no-standing policy after trains leave the Burke Center station on the Manassas line and Rippon station on the Fredericksburg line.

Power Transformer Rolls Through Dumfries

A power transformer is from a Dumfries area power station is transported with a police escort from U.S. 1 to Dumfries Road (Va. 234) on Friday morning. It was headed to a power station in Burke. (Mary Davidson/

Dumfries, Va. –– There’s going to be a large piece of equipment traveling on area roads this morning.

Dominion Virginia Power is moving a large transformer from its Possum Point power station in Dumfries to a power station in Burke.

The result will be improved reliability at the Burke power station, but it’s going to take a police escort and carefully-planned route to get the transformer where it’s going.

Drivers can expect police at major intersections to assist the truck carrying the transformer as it is expected to make wide turns, said Virginia Dominon Power spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson.

Crews are scheduled to begin moving the transformer at 9:30 a.m., taking down Cockpit Road to Possum Point Road. From there it will travel onto U.S. 1 north, through Dumfries and then up to Dumfries Road (Va. 234) where it will then get onto Interstate 95, says Anderson.

Police will then guide the large transformer up the highway for about four miles, where it then exit at onto Dale Boulevard in Dale City, take Neabsco Mills Road to Optiz Boulevard, then onto Smoketown Road, to Minniville Road and eventually onto Ox Road (Va. 123).

The transformer should arrive in Burke about noontime.

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