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Anderson: High-Speed Rail will Benefit PWC, Stafford

Del. Richard L. Anderson, R-Va. 51

By Del. Richard Anderson

The Virginia – North Carolina High-Speed Rail Compact last met in Richmond on Jan. 7, and meet again on Sept. 19 in Raleigh. We meet every six months and alternate between the two state capitol buildings.

The driver for high-speed rail is that the Southeast was one of the nation’s fastest growing regions over the last decade, with population increasing 16.5 percent. Traffic gridlock and energy prices increase the drive and need for more efficient intercity travel. As a result, Virginia and North Carolina have created the High-Speed Rail Compact and are using $800 million in federal, state, and private funds to progress the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor. To fully develop the SEHSR corridor, Virginia and North Carolina will need approximately $7.7 billion in funding.

The Washington to Richmond corridor has been appropriated $75 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to build 11.4 miles of additional track capacity in Prince William and Stafford counties. The area received $45.5 million in federal FY 2010 funds to complete the next level of environmental analysis on the Richmond-Washington corridor and to complete environmental and preliminary engineering work on a new bridge over the Appomattox River. This work will bring the Richmond-Washington portion of the corridor to the same level of environmental analysis as the Richmond-Raleigh portion. The Richmond to Norfolk corridor has seen their Tier 1 environmental study advanced through the public comment stage and sent to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for final approval. Once the FRA provides a Record of Decision on the route eligible for federal funding, the corridor can begin the next phase of the federal planning process heading toward construction readiness.

Virginia is also in the process of investing $101 in the Richmond-Norfolk corridor to add the needed capacity to extend the first of three passenger trains to the region since 1977. The Norfolk-Boston Amtrak Northeast Regional Service is expected to launch in October 2013. The introduction of the new conventional speed Amtrak Virginia service allows the Richmond-Hampton Roads corridor to be considered an emerging high speed rail corridor, which makes the corridor more competitive for federal funding.

North Carolina and Virginia continue work on the Tier 2 environmental study for the corridor between Richmond and Raleigh. North Carolina received a $4 million federal grant to complete the study, and public hearings are taking place along the study corridor in those areas which have seen changes since hearings were held in July 2010.

The document is scheduled to be sent to the FRA for review/approval in late 2012. When approval is given, the corridor will be ready for construction pending funding availability. In the meantime, $25 million will be invested in the current Richmond to Raleigh corridor alignment to improve safety.

Del. Richard Anderson (R-Lake Ridge, Prince William) serves on the Virginia – North Carolina High Speed Rail Compact.

During Heat, OWL VFD Answered the Call

Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Firefighters put their personal lives aside to pull together to assist the community. In addition to their regular equipment, OWL VFD staffed additional apparatus as well to serve the community.

Prince William County had a very busy weekend with several major events going on all over the County, including the 150th Commemoration of the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, Youth for Tomorrow Fundraising Event at Old Dominion Speedway, Virginia State Senior Little League Championships at Veterans Park and Aquapoloosa on the Potomac River.

In anticipation of heightened call volume, OWL VFD off duty fire fighters and EMS came in to help staff additional apparatus. In addition to the normal apparatus that was staffed, OWL VFD staff two additional ambulances and boats 502 and 512.

“The heat makes this weekend even more challenging, but we are committed to serving the community” said Chief McAllister. Many Prince William County volunteer fire departments and the Department of Fire and Rescue brought in additional resources as well. “This is further proof that the combination, career and volunteer, fire and rescue system works and works well here in Prince William County.”

“OWL VFD is committed to community safety. These men and women, and all our volunteers, exemplify the spirit of OWL VFD. We strive to provide the very best fire suppression, emergency medical, technical rescue, and water rescue services to the citizens and visitors of Woodbridge, Virginia and Prince William County.”

OWL VFD has historically strategically planned for disaster events, keeping up on the latest training, equipment and education available. OWL VFD invests thousands of hours in professional training and certification courses. Our care and dedication to Fire and Rescue is reflected in our efforts of staying up to date and ready for the task.

OWL VFD is one the largest and busiest volunteer fire departments in the United States with over 300 members. OWL VFD provides fire suppression, EMS care, and rescue services to 80,000 residents in our 27 square mile area through the operation of three fire stations. OWL volunteer Firefighters and EMTs work the 6 pm to 6 am shift, five days a week, plus 24/7 holidays and weekends.

-Submitted by Rebecca Barnes, OWL VFD spokeswoman

Letter: Like Metro, Ferries Would Spur Development

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi

By Frank J. Principi
Woodbridge District Supervisor

In 2007, as I was campaigning to be your locally elected representative on the Board of County Supervisors, I brought a ferry to Woodbridge from Boston to promote the use of a commuter ferry service up the Potomac River. During this time, we conducted several runs and were able to complete the Quantico to Navy Yard run in under 55 minutes one-way, giving us hope that a commuter ferry option was feasible as another viable transit alternative to help alleviate gridlock on our roads. I also brought a ferry here in 2009 and replicated the service time for a series of origin/destination pairs.

Now as the Woodbridge District Supervisor, I am still actively pursuing alternative transit options for our community. As you know, traffic gridlock is among the most pressing challenges to our quality of life in Prince William County. In addition to an aggressive road building initiative, elected officials must work together to build smarter transit alternatives (wiser, not wider) that will alleviate this gridlock and reduce auto emissions. Commuter ferry service is a timely, outside-the-box, solution to several challenges facing Northern Virginia.

In addition to a new form of transit, ferry service also makes sense from a homeland security and tourism perspective as well. In doesn’t take a natural disaster or a terrorist incident to paralyze our road system, we experience gridlock in bad weather, peak commute times, and with fatal accidents. A fleet of high-speed ferries capable of evacuating residents or moving military equipment and personnel during a declared emergency would improve our capacity to respond and recover quickly to a wide range of incidents.

Too, the availability of a fleet of ferries on nights and weekends could shuttle residents and tourists to a local baseball game, airport, or to dining and museum locations along our river system. Ferry origin and destination points would be expected to generate economic development opportunities as Metrorail Stations have done in this region in the past.

Given the forecasted population growth, pending impacts of the BRAC decisions, existing gridlock, limited capacity of our road system, and our history with water-based transportation alternatives, a commuter ferry service along our river system holds promise as a transit alternative to our region’s multi-modal transportation network. Commuter ferry service would take advantage of an existing, unused transportation asset and provide commuters with a convenient alternative to traveling on the region’s congested roadways.

A Commuter Ferry Stakeholder’s group has been created and has met several times over the last few months. This is a planning group that is comprised of federal, state and local officials representing Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The private sector, military and academia are also part of this group. We are on track to conduct a regional market analysis this fall. It will determine whether there is a need for the service and more simply put, if we build it, will you ride it. The group is also tasked with coming up with a funding formula that will ensure the success of the project. For this to work, it needs to be done through a public, private, and military (BRAC) partnership. We will not ask the taxpayers, nor will they accept taking on the brunt of this burden.

In Prince William County’s Future Commission 2030 report, citizens envisioned a water-based transportation service to serve the region. “A water ferry provides transportation to Washington, D.C. and Maryland along the Potomac River…These services are used for commuting, as a regular means of transportation, and for residents and tourists to reach historic towns and sites along the shoreline.” The thousands of residents who participated in the 2030 visioning process clearly stated the vision for an effective, efficient commuter ferry service. It’s now up to area governments, public officials, private employers and individual residents to help make the vision a reality. I am very committed to this cause and will continue to push for a commuter ferry service on the Potomac River.

To may submit an open letter to PotomacLocal.com, please email it to news@potomaclocal.com and write “Open Letter” in the subject line.

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Unit 115-10
Stafford, Va. 22554

By Frank J. Principi

Woodbridge District Supervisor

In 2007, as I was campaigning to be your locally elected representative on the Board of County Supervisors, I brought a ferry to Woodbridge from Boston to promote the use of a commuter ferry service up the Potomac River. During this time, we conducted several runs and were able to complete the Quantico to Navy Yard run in under 55 minutes one-way, giving us hope that a commuter ferry option was feasible as another viable transit alternative to help alleviate gridlock on our roads. I also brought a ferry here in 2009 and replicated the service time for a series of origin/destination pairs.

Now as the Woodbridge District Supervisor, I am still actively pursuing alternative transit options for our community. As you know, traffic gridlock is among the most pressing challenges to our quality of life in Prince William County. In addition to an aggressive road building initiative, elected officials must work together to build smarter transit alternatives (wiser, not wider) that will alleviate this gridlock and reduce auto emissions. Commuter ferry service is a timely, outside-the-box, solution to several challenges facing Northern Virginia.

In addition to a new form of transit, ferry service also makes sense from a homeland security and tourism perspective as well. In doesn’t take a natural disaster or a terrorist incident to paralyze our road system, we experience gridlock in bad weather, peak commute times, and with fatal accidents. A fleet of high-speed ferries capable of evacuating residents or moving military equipment and personnel during a declared emergency would improve our capacity to respond and recover quickly to a wide range of incidents.

Too, the availability of a fleet of ferries on nights and weekends could shuttle residents and tourists to a local baseball game, airport, or to dining and museum locations along our river system. Ferry origin and destination points would be expected to generate economic development opportunities as Metrorail Stations have done in this region in the past.

Given the forecasted population growth, pending impacts of the BRAC decisions, existing gridlock, limited capacity of our road system, and our history with water-based transportation alternatives, a commuter ferry service along our river system holds promise as a transit alternative to our region’s multi-modal transportation network. Commuter ferry service would take advantage of an existing, unused transportation asset and provide commuters with a convenient alternative to traveling on the region’s congested roadways.

A Commuter Ferry Stakeholder’s group has been created and has met several times over the last few months. This is a planning group that is comprised of federal, state and local officials representing Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The private sector, military and academia are also part of this group. We are on track to conduct a regional market analysis this fall. It will determine whether there is a need for the service and more simply put, if we build it, will you ride it. The group is also tasked with coming up with a funding formula that will ensure the success of the project. For this to work, it needs to be done through a public, private, and military (BRAC) partnership. We will not ask the taxpayers, nor will they accept taking on the brunt of this burden.

In Prince William County’s Future Commission 2030 report, citizens envisioned a water-based transportation service to serve the region. “A water ferry provides transportation to Washington, D.C. and Maryland along the Potomac River…These services are used for commuting, as a regular means of transportation, and for residents and tourists to reach historic towns and sites along the shoreline.” The thousands of residents who participated in the 2030 visioning process clearly stated the vision for an effective, efficient commuter ferry service. It’s now up to area governments, public officials, private employers and individual residents to help make the vision a reality. I am very committed to this cause and will continue to push for a commuter ferry service on the Potomac River.

Letter: You Should Attend U.S. 1 Interchange Meeting

On Thursday, March 24, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials will hold a public hearing about the proposed North Woodbridge Interchange at Route 1 and Route 123.  This public hearing will be the first opportunity for the community to review the new proposal and provide feedback to VDOT officials. I encourage all Woodbridge residents to attend the public hearing from 5:00 to 8 pm. at Botts Fire Hall, located at 1306 F Street, Woodbridge.

To date, funding has not been available to proceed with the North Woodbridge Interchange project. However, money will be allocated to fund at least phase I of the interchange in the Governor’s transportation package that recently passed the General Assembly.  I am very excited about the beginning of this important project after decades of planning and promises.

Once funding is available, the North Woodbridge Interchange will be the fourth major road project in the Woodbridge Magisterial District since I took office in 2008.  We have repaired Featherstone Road over the CSX railroad tracks, expanded the Neabsco Creek Bridge and expanded Route 1 from Cardinal Drive to Neabsco Road to alleviate flooding issues in this corridor, expanded Route 1 from Neabsco Mills to Featherstone Road, and opened Neabsco Road from Opitz Boulevard to Dale Boulevard.

I look forward to the dialogue that will ensue during and after the VDOT public hearing.  A healthy exchange of ideas will ensure we get the best project design possible.  Once you see the plan for the North Woodbridge Interchange, please let me know your thoughts so I can also speak to VDOT on behalf of the community.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call me at 703-792-4646 or email fprincipi@pwcgov.org

Frank J. Principi
Woodbridge District Supervisor

Anyone may submit an open letter to PotomacLocal.com by emailing it to news@potomaclocal.com and writing Open Letter in the subject line.

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