Traffic & Transit
Traffic VRE express train hits delays
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Virginia Railway Express’ new express train was delayed during it inaugural run Monday.
The train left the Fredericksburg station on time at 5:15 a.m., but then hit delays in Stafford County and into Woodbridge, said VRE Board Chair Paul Milde.
Advertised as a train that will be able to get riders to Washington 25 minutes sooner than any other VRE train, the express pulled into Union Station about an hour behind schedule, according to VRE officials. (more…)
Traffic Army eyes surplus VRE equipment
The Army is interested in purchasing surplus rail equipment from Virginia Railway Express.
According to a Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation spokesman, the Army plans to transport soldiers from Ft. AP Hill in Bowling Green to Ft. Lee in Petersburg twice a week for 37 weeks each year, and they want to do it by rail.
Obtaining suplus equipment from the commuter rail agency appears to be a viable option for the Army.
The Army’s request comes as VRE has seen explosive growth in ridership over the past two years and when the agency is looking to add two new trains on the its Fredericksburg line, according to comments from VRE chairman Paul Milde, made at commuter railroad’s June officials meeting. (more…)
Traffic A wider 610 for $9.1 million
STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – North Stafford’s main road is getting wider.
Since April, crews have been working to widen Va. 610 at Joshua Road at a projected cost of $9.1 million.
The two-lane street will become a four lane road complete with turn lanes at all sides of the Joshua Road intersection.
Currently westbound drivers on Va. 610 hit a bottleneck just before Joshua Road, where the thoroughfare goes from four lanes to two. Crews say the wider road will be easier to navigate. (more…)
Traffic Crashes cause southbound delays
A head-on crash has forced the closure of U.S. 1 in Triangle.
Just before 4:30 p.m., a Ford F-150 collided with a sports car just south of the Marine Corps Museum. Fire and rescue units were called, but it appears no one was seriously hurt.
Police closed the northbound portion of the road due to the crash and the southbound side of the road, already full of cars, experienced even longer delays. (more…)
Traffic Beltway lanes to shift Friday
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – A five-lane portion of the Capital Beltway will be reduced to four lanes tomorrow.
The Virginia Department of Transportation calls it a lane shift, and it will take place three-quarters of a mile before Va. 620 (Braddock Road). The new lane configuration will be in place until late December and comes as part of the Beltway High Occupancy Vehicle lanes project.
At 9:30 p.m. Friday, crews will work to re-stripe the pavement and place barriers around the construction zone, reducing traffic down to one lane in the area.
The new traffic pattern should be in place by 9 a.m. Saturday, a VDOT spokeswoman said.
Transportation officials tell motorists to expect major delays in the area during the construction hours.
Crews aimed to complete the lane shift on July 9, but inclement weather prevented them from doing so.
The HOT lanes will be two new lanes between Springfield and Dulles Toll Road, which will add capacity to the Beltway. Vehicles with three or more passengers will be able to use the lanes for free or single drivers can opt to pay a toll to use the lanes when they are completed in late 2013.
Virginia officials have partnered leaders in North Carolina to bring high-speed rail to both states.
The Virginia – North Carolina High Speed Rail compact, authorized by congress, will look at constructing a high-speed rail corridor between Washington and Charlotte, N.C. that could cost as much as $4.15 billion, according to a Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation spokesman.
Trains that would serve the corridor would stop in Richmond and Petersburg in Virginia and Raleigh, N.C.
Virginia Del. Richard L. Anderson, R–51 was appointed to serve on compact and attended the commission’s first meeting last week in North Carolina.
“I don’t view high-speed rail as being a cure-all for all the transportation needs in all regions in the state and in the country, but we’ve got to move faster to get more rail implemented to address the transportation challenges that face our region,” said Anderson.
Officials say the majority of the funds to build the rail line would come from the federal government due to the extensive cost of the project. (more…)
Traffic VRE says goodbye to Amtrak
WOODBRIDGE, Va. – It seemed like a long time coming but a French company is now in charge of operating of Virginia’s commuter railroad.
Keolis Rail Services of America began operating Virginia Railway Express trains on the system’s Fredericksburg and Manassas lines today as part of a five year, $85 million contract. After months of wrangling between VRE, Federal Rail Administration officials and Amtrak managers – who did not want their employees persuaded to work for the French firm – Keolis hired more than 80 new conductors, assistant conductors and engineers in May to facilitate train operations.
Offers were made to Amtrak employees to stay, but only one Amtrak worker decided to join the French firm that has never operated in the U.S. before now.
One week ago today, while many enjoyed a day off because of the observed July 4 holiday, Keolis crews made their first full test runs on the VRE system. (more…)
A new study is underway examining the possibility of raising the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph between U.S. 17 in Falmouth to Joplin Road, just north of the Stafford County line in Triangle.
The study is underway but there is no preliminary information about when it could be complete or how much it is going to cost, said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tina Bundy.
A new law went into effect July 1 that allows transportation officials and elected leaders across the state to raise speed limits on interstate highways to 70 mph. A portion of I-295, from Petersburg to I-64, is currently the only highway in Virginia to have its speed-limit increased. (more…)
Traffic House removed from Beltway
UDPATE: The house trailer that fell onto the Capital Beltway on Thursday afternoon and snarled traffic has been removed.
Crews were seen hauling away the prefabricated home at 5:37 p.m., about 20 minutes earlier than state police initially estimated it would be cleared from the roadway.
The house was being transported by tractor trailer when at 12:19 p.m. a car changed lanes and cut the driver of the tractor trailer off, just north of Dulles Toll Road.
The driver of the tractor trailer then swerved into another lane to avoid hitting the encroaching vehicle, but in doing so collided with a Ford F-450 pickup, a state police spokeswoman said.
The trailer flipped and the house hit the pavement.
No one was injured, and so far no charges have been filed in the crash, but the damage to traffic flow in the area was done. (more…)
Traffic HOV hours extended on I-95
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – The sun sets later during the summer and now drivers can use Interstate 95’s High Occupancy Vehicle lanes a bit later too.
Until Sept. 23, the lanes will remain open to southbound travelers until midnight Monday through Thursday, allowing drivers to skirt traffic delays that may be caused by highway construction and increased traffic on the highway, said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer McCord.
The HOV lanes will then reopen to northbound traffic the following day at 2 a.m. (more…)
STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. – A major thoroughfare has been reopened in Ferry Farm after a series of rail cars derailed Tuesday.
Clean-up crews have finished removing coal that spilled onto Va. 3, near Walmart, as a result of the crash. There was only one coal car left to right at 6:30 a.m., according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Crews were planning on grading the land where the train derailed, but the major portion of the mess has been cleaned up, VDOT stated.
Drivers are still urged to use caution in the area.
There were no injuries when the rail cars went off the track about 4:45 p.m., but officials last night warned drivers who use Va. 3 could expect delays in the area for the next 24 to 36 hours.
Clean-up crews immediately descended onto the area immediately following the freight train derailment.
The portion of the track where the derailment occurred is not served by Virginia Railway Express, the state’s commuter railroad.
QUANTICO, Va. — If the woman would have taken the free ticket maybe police wouldn’t have forced her from the train.
A conductor on Virginia Railway Express train #308 from Fredericksburg to Washington on Tuesday asked a woman for her ticket, so he could validate that she paid to ride.
But the woman became angry and told the man that the ticket machines at the station where she boarded were not working and then refused to show a ticket, said VRE spokesman Mark Roeber.
She became more confrontational when the conductor pressed her on the issue, telling her she couldn’t ride without one. (more…)
LADYSMITH, Va. — State police were called to a car fire on Interstate 95 on Monday.
The flames engulfed the car as it sat on the right shoulder of the northbound side of the highway about 3:30 p.m., near Ladysmith, said Virginia State Police Sgt. Thomas J. Molnar.
No one was injured, but the right lane was blocked for a short time while fire crews worked to douse the blaze.
Ryan Patrick Kennedy witnessed the burning car while driving along the highway. The car looked to be a red 1980s model Chevrolet Camaro, he said.
“It didn’t look like there was anyone near the car, but it was something to see,” said Kennedy. (more…)
An “unruly passenger” has made commuting difficult this morning for those in Virginia Railway Express train #308 from Fredericksburg to Washington, accoring to the commuter railroad.
The train was stopped at the Quantico station just before 8 a.m. VRE said the passenger was the reason for the delay. The train eventually moved about a half-hour later, making its way to the Rippon station in Woodbridge.
We’ll have more on this story when it becomes available.
A portion of Mine Road in Stafford County will close to traffic today.
Electronic messaging signs now mark the spots where drivers will no longer be able to access the road, between Exeter Lane and Austin Ridge Drive, according to a press release from Stafford County officials.
The two-lane portion of the road that is now closed is set to be widened from two to four lanes and could be closed until early September, according to the press release.
Signs have been posted marking the detour route that will direct drivers around the closed roadway, according to the county’s Web site.
Mine Road connects Va. 610 (Garrisonville Road) with Va. 630 (Courthouse Road), two major thoroughfares in the county.
The road has already been widened to four lanes, between Va. 610 and Exeter Lane. The next phase of the widening project, which is about a mile long, will relieve a bottleneck at Exeter Lane.
A popular commuter lot in North Stafford also sits off of Mine Road.
UPDATE: Virginia officials will lift restrictions on the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on I-95 and 395, between Dumfries and the Pentagon, on Monday.
Independence Day weekend will bring changes to commute patterns in our area.
On Interstates 95 and 395, the High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes will be open to southbound traffic from noon Friday until 2 p.m. Saturday.
The lanes will then be reversed for northbound traffic at 4 p.m. Saturday until 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
After a fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, the HOV lanes will again be reversed at 9 p.m. (more…)
Questions are mounting about the widening of U.S. 1 between Stafford and Prince William counties. And they’re coming before an influx of federal workers is expected to relocate to Quantico Marine Corps Base in 2011.
The road is currently being widened from four to six lanes in Triangle, between Joplin and Brady’s Hill roads, as part of the planned Triangle Village near the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Improvements to the small stretch of road are being paid for by Prince William County taxpayers.
But it seems there won’t be any federal help when it comes to additional road improvements for the BRAC relocation to Quantico. (more…)
Fredericksburg line train 309, coming from Fredericksburg to Washington’s Union Station, was late making it back to pickup passengers for its 5:15 p.m. departure from the Washington rail hub.
After completing it’s midday run as train 301, which left Union Station at 12:55 p.m., the train encountered problems on its return trip south of Franconia, said VRE spokeswoman April Maguigad.
When it reached Union Station, passengers boarded, but the train and left about an hour late. (more…)
Parking restrictions in Stafford may get tighter.
The Stafford County Board of Supervisors this week unanimously voted to allow the leaders of homeowners associations in the county to petition the board as to which types of boats, commercial and recreational vehicles that are allowed to be park on their streets.
Though no neighborhood has filed a petition yet, once they do, a public hearing will be scheduled before the board and then the supervisors will have the final say when it comes to implementing a parking restriction, according to Stafford County Attorney Joseph Howard.
Stafford Sheriff Charles E. Jett said if the Board approves a parking restriction his deputies would enforce it during their regular traffic duties.
The Board chose to allow subdivisions to set their own rules instead of issuing a county-wide policy.
*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Friday June 18, 2010.
Taxpayers could get a bill for the cost to build High Occupancy Toll lanes on Interstates 95 and 395.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said his office is reviewing plans which explore the financial viability of converting HOV lanes between Dumfries and the Pentagon to toll lanes, and then extending then south to Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.
Part of those plans, presented by the Virginia Department of Transportation at Connaughton’s request, include slapping taxpayers with a portion of the construction costs for the proposed lanes.
Another scenario has two private firms, Texas-based Fluor, Inc. and Australia’s Transurban, which would operate, maintain and profit from the lanes for up to 80 years, harboring all of the construction costs, said Connaughton.
VDOT’s plans could become public in the next few weeks, after they are reviewed the Federal Highway Administration, said Connaughton.
The renewed interest in building the lanes follows a combined $20,000 donation from Fluor, Inc. and Transurban to the Virginia GOP last month, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
After giving $25,000 to Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell during his 2009 campaign, Fluor, Inc. also donated $15,000 to McDonnell’s inaugural committee in January, according to VPAP.
In addition to donating to R. Creigh Deed’s gubernatorial campaign last year, Fluor, Inc. has donated $13,500 to state Democrats so far in 2010, VPAP showed.
The I-95 / 395 HOT lanes project was put on hold in August when VDOT said Fluor Inc. and Transurban couldn’t come up with enough private investors for the project.
Then Arlington County sued state and federal officials claiming that required environmental impact studies needed before the lanes could be built were not done, and that the lanes would adversely affect residents who live along I-95.
Arlington leaders last fall courted Prince William County officials about joining their suit, but they declined after reading the suit’s allegations that only rich, white suburbanites from Stafford and Spotsylvania counties would benefit from the new lanes.
*This story originally appeared on PotomacLocal.com on Tuesday June 15, 2010.