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Prince William County Arts Council promotes all art in the Greater Prince William County Area

The arts are alive in Prince William County! Yes, Prince William County has a rich tradition of promoting the arts. Although there are many options for your time, the culture and tradition of the arts are a sure bet in entertaining and providing many hours of enjoyment for you, your family, and friends.

So where can you find a complete list of art and art-related programs in Prince William County?  If you are like most people, when you have a question like the one posed, you immediately click onto Google or simply ask Siri.

Google “art in Prince William County” and the first entry that comes up is the Prince William Arts Council. What exactly does this council do, and how do they promote art in Prince William County?

Here is the short answer: The Prince William County Arts Council (PWCAC) is a membership organization serving the Greater Prince William Area, including Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. The vision of the Prince William County Arts Council is to be the go-to resource for the local arts.

The Arts Council provides year-round programming in performance and cultural arts, representing both professional and amateur endeavors. The council provides networking, development, and marketing opportunities for members. Membership includes non-profit and for-profit arts organizations, individual artists, civic groups, and businesses that support the arts in Prince William County.

The Prince William County Arts Council is a division of the Prince William County Department of Parks and Recreation.  Terraya Lewis is the Arts Recreation Specialist for Parks and Recreation. She acts as the liaison between the advisory group of volunteers and members representing the Arts Council and Parks and Recreation.  

“My role is to support the mission of both entities and to guide the Prince William County Arts Council through the necessary procedures so it can function as a County-funded program.  I am personally not a member; however, I am beyond inspired by the vibrant, lively, blending of music, dance, literature, visual design, and theatre right here in Prince William County,” Lewis explains.

Amelia May, Chair of the PWCAC Board of Directors shares her love of the arts and her expertise with members and fellow board members at the monthly meetings. “This council is just like the arts here in Prince William County: we are both thriving. My fellow board members are volunteers, like me, and we are thrilled to celebrate the arts in our community,” May shares.

In addition, the Prince William County Arts Council also hosts two events every year:

Arts Alive!

The Kathleen K. Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence

Every fall, the Hylton Center for the Performing Arts is the setting for the Arts Alive! This annual festival features various art forms from chorale and opera singers, to actors and Poets Laureate, who share their talents, and promote art throughout all areas of the County. There is literally something for everyone.  Best of all, admission is free and includes hands-on art-related activities for kids of all ages!

Established to recognize artists, arts organizations, volunteers, educators, and businesses in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park, the Kathleen K. Seefeldt Awards for Arts Excellence provide prestigious recognition on behalf of Seefeldt’s legacy of public service and support for the cultural arts. Community supporters and municipal officials present winners of each category including dance, theater, music, literary, and visual arts organizations.

Check out the PWCAC website at pwcartscouncil.org and see why the Prince William County Arts Council is the resource for the local arts.

I-66 lane closures ‘Sunday night, Feb. 4, through Friday morning, Feb. 9, from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.’

From a press release: 

Single, left lane closures are planned during overnight hours (weather permitting) Monday night, Jan. 29, through Friday morning, Feb. 2, and Sunday night, Feb. 4, through Friday morning, Feb. 9, from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night on eastbound I-66 inside the Beltway, between I-495 and Fairfax Drive (Route 237), to allow crews to safely perform survey work related to the I-66 eastbound widening project. Additionally, a right shoulder closure is planned (weather permitting) on Thursday, Feb. 1, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on eastbound I-66 between I-495 and Fairfax Drive.

Motorists should expect delays and are advised to use alternate routes.
 
The survey work is needed prior to the start of construction on the I-66 eastbound widening project, which includes adding an additional through lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) and Fairfax Drive (Exit 71) in Fairfax and Arlington counties.
The project includes ramp modifications at Exits 69 and 71, rehabilitation and/or repairs to bridges, construction of more than 11,000 linear feet of new and replacement noise barriers eastbound and westbound, widening bridges, and constructing a new bridge over Lee Highway for the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail.
 
Additionally, the project will provide direct access from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro station by constructing a new ramp connection between two existing ramps (eastbound I-66 to Route 7 and the eastbound I-66 collector-distributor road adjacent to the station’s parking garage.)
 
The $85.7 million I-66 Eastbound Widening contract was awarded by VDOT to Lane Construction Corporation of Chantilly in December 2017. The additional lane will be open to traffic in fall 2020 and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021. Find additional I-66 project information at http://inside.transform66.org/.

The Chatham Bridge that links Stafford County to Fredericksburg is in dire need of repair and could be closed for 19 months

FREDERICKSBURG — We’ve learned a link between Stafford County and Fredericksburg could be closed for up to 19 months as crews work to fix a structurally deficient bridge.

From a press release: 

The public is invited to attend a design public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 25, to learn more about a project to rehabilitate the Chatham Bridge on Route 3 Business over the Rappahannock River, and to comment on the proposed design.

The design public hearing will be held:

Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018*

5-7 p.m.

VDOT Fredericksburg District Auditorium

86 Deacon Road

Fredericksburg, VA 22405

*Inclement weather date: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018

Stop by anytime between 5-7 p.m. to review displays, proposed plans, the proposed detour route, and discuss questions with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff. No formal presentation will be given at the public hearing.

Written and oral comments will be accepted at the public hearing, and afterward through Monday, Feb. 5, 2018.

Comments may also be submitted by mailing them to Mr. Byrd Holloway, Project Manager, Virginia Department of Transportation, 87 Deacon Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22405.

Comments may be emailed to fred.comments@vdot.virginia.gov. Please reference “Chatham Bridge Rehabilitation” in the subject line.

Meeting materials will be posted to the project page online at www.VirginiaDOT.org on Thursday, Jan. 25

Project Background

Chatham Bridge is a four-lane bridge connecting Stafford County and the City of Fredericksburg. The bridge was built in 1941 and carries an average of 16,000 vehicles a day.

The existing bridge is structurally deficient and has a weight posting of 21 tons for single unit vehicles and 26 tons for tractor-trailers.

This rehabilitation project will improve the condition of Chatham Bridge and remove the weight posting by replacing the bridge’s superstructure.

The proposed design will build two travel lanes in each direction, with each lane having a width of 10 feet. A shared use path for pedestrian traffic will be added along the bridge’s eastbound lanes. The path will be separated from traffic with a barrier.

Route 3 Business traffic will be detoured while construction is underway for approximately 16-19 months, from spring 2021 to fall 2022. The project will be advertised for construction in the fall of 2020, with construction mobilizing at the bridge in early 2021.

No bus service at Woodbridge NOVA on Thursday, Jan. 24

From an email:

The bus stop at the Northern Virginia Community College Woodbridge campus will continue to be inaccessible on Thursday, January 25 due to a water main break. Repairs are taking longer than initially expected.

The closest alternate stops are:

Northbound Dumfries OmniLink (traveling toward PRTC Transit Center):

–Neabsco Mills Road at Freedom High School

Southbound Dumfries OmniLink (traveling toward Quantico):

–Neabsco Mills Road at North College Drive

The bus stop will reopen when repairs are complete. Further updates will be sent as necessary.

Route 28 bypass may be county’s costliest road project. Here are the biggest six.

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Surovell’s hands-free cell phone bill Senate passes committee

Delegate Scott Surovell (D-36th Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford) tells us his hands-free cell phone bill passed a Senate committee.

From a press release: 

The Senate Committee on Transportation has passed Senator Scott A. Surovell’s legislation that prohibits driving while operating any mobile communications device unless it is being used in “hands-free” mode.

Senator Surovell introduced the same legislation last year when it failed on a 6-7 vote. Virginia prohibited texting while driving in 2009, but it was classified as a secondary offense punishable by a small fine. In 2010, Fairfax County Police reported writing fewer than fifty tickets for texting while driving because of loopholes in the law and the fact that it was a secondary infraction.1 Senator Surovell began working on bills to prohibit texting while driving after an 18 year-old Fairfax County resident, Kyle Rowley, was killed on Route 7 near Herndon after a distracted texting driver stuck his vehicle without breaking at full speed on a highway.

After the driver was acquitted of Reckless Driving due to the existing secondary offense statute, Senator Surovell partnered with with Delegate Ben Cline to make texting while driving a primary driving offense.2 That bill was ultimately passed and became law in July 2013. However, that legislation has continued to elude effective enforcement. Law enforcement has been critical of the legislation because it is often difficult to verify a driver’s activity with their phone or obtain a conviction absent a confession by the driver.

“It should not be legal to play Angry Birds, chase Pokemon, surf the Internet, or order food while driving,” said Senator Surovell, “passing hand’s free legislation will bring us into conformity with our neighbors in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and fourteen other states that have prohibited driving with a phone in hand.”

The view from above Stafford’s new diverging diamond interchange where piling driving, lane shifts are about to start

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Some OmniRide commuter buses will miss these stops Friday afternoon

We’re hearing from OmniRide that the March for Life on Friday will cause some of its buses to miss their stops. 

From the transit agency: 

Some Montclair-Washington and South Route 1 OmniRide trips will detour the afternoon of Friday, January 19, due to street closures for the March for Life.

The MC-101 trip will start at 14th & F at 12:22 p.m., and will miss the first five stops of the route.

MC-101 Missed Stops:

  •        -D & 7th
  •        -7th& Maryland
  •        -7th& Independence
  •        -Pennsylvania & 7th
  •        -11th& E

MC-101 Alternate Stops:

  •        -14th& F
  •        -14th& Pennsylvania
  •        -14th& Independence

MC-101 passengers who are unable to board at an alternate stop are encouraged to board the D-301 Dale City-Navy Yard bus at 7th & Maryland around 12:22 p.m., and transfer at the Pentagon to the MC-101.

Starting with the MC-102 and RS-1, Montclair-Washington and South Route 1 OmniRide buses will start their routes at Pennsylvania & 7th. These routes will resume regular service when the street closures end around 3:30 p.m.

Missed Stops:

  •        -D & 7th
  •        -7th& Maryland
  •        -7th& Independence

Alternate Stops:

  •       -Pennsylvania & 7th
  •        -14th& Independence

At least an inch of snow expected Tuesday. Telework if you can.

Virginia transportation officials are telling commuters to plan to telework if they can ahead of a winter storm that could bring at least an inch of snow to the region, and throw a wrench into tomorrow morning’s commute.

From a press release: 

Virginia Department of Transportation crews have been busy preparing for snow that is forecasted to fall starting later this afternoon into Wednesday morning. VDOT asks drivers to keep monitoring forecasts and to plan ahead for an impacted Wednesday morning commute. See National Weather Service forecastWinter Weather Advisory and Winter Commuting Hazard statements.

Roads were pre-treated Monday and Tuesday with a special focus on critical locations such as bridges, ramps, overpasses, and turn lanes. Trucks will stage along roadways, ready to treat roads whether it be with salt and sand, or plow if needed, once snow begins to fall.

Due to low pavement temperatures, any precipitation will quickly stick to roads.Drivers are asked to adjust trips as needed to avoid driving in icy conditions.

Drivers are asked to:

  • Stay closely tuned to weather forecasts (see National Weather Service)overnight and through the day tomorrow.
  • Consider teleworking or adjusting trips around the forecast. If conditions are icy, delay trips for safety.
  • Assume any “wet” pavement to be icy. Bridges, ramps, overpasses and lower-volume roads may ice first, and even previously treated roads will become slick quickly with the low pavement temperatures.
  • Ensure gas and wiper fluid tanks are full, and have a good emergency kit. Here’s how: www.ready.gov/car.
  • Be aware that low temperatures will mean continued potential for
    refreez and slick road conditions.

 

With this snowstorm, VDOT tells us they’re at a high mobilization level two

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I-95 E-ZPass Express Lanes to be extended to Fredericksburg

Drivers on Interstate 95 will see the E-ZPass Express Lanes extended from Stafford County into Fredericksburg, across the Rappahannock River. 

The new project announced today includes constructing a new bridge and replacing the existing bridges over the river.

From a press release: 

FREDERICKSBURG – The Commonwealth Transportation Board has awarded a contract worth approximately $101.6 million to Wagman Heavy Civil, Inc., of North Dinwiddie, to build the Interstate 95 southbound Rappahannock River Crossing project in Stafford County, the City of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County.

The project seeks to reduce I-95 congestion in the Fredericksburg area by providing local traffic with additional lanes to travel between Route 17 and Route 3 without merging into the interstate’s general purpose lanes.

The Rappahannock River Crossing will build three new general purpose lanes for I-95 south stretching six miles in the current median of I-95. The new lanes would begin in the vicinity of Truslow Road, just north of Exit 133 at Route 17 in Stafford. The new lanes will end 1.2 miles south of Exit 130 at Route 3 in Fredericksburg, with the project terminus in Spotsylvania.

The three existing I-95 southbound lanes in this area will be converted to local traffic lanes, also known as collector-distributor lanes.

A new bridge will be built over the Rappahannock River parallel to the existing I-95 southbound bridge to carry the new general purpose traffic lanes.

Additionally, the bridges that carry I-95 north and south over Route 17 will be replaced as part of the project. Both bridges are structurally deficient, which does not imply that the bridges are likely to collapse or are unsafe, but that there are elements of the bridges that need to be monitored and/or repaired.

Construction will begin in summer 2018 and will be completed in 2022.

The I-95 southbound Rappahannock River Crossing will be the next project to start construction as part of the Atlantic Gateway suite of projects. Virginia was awarded a $165 million FASTLANE grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) in 2016 for Atlantic Gateway, a $1.4 billion set of highway, transit and rail projects in the I-95 corridor.

The USDOT’s FASTLANE competitive grant program, is part of a $4.6 billion, five-year program created by the FAST Act, which was signed into law in December 2015 and makes large-scale national investments to improve freight and highway mobility across the United States. Every grant under the program will be subject to a 60-day congressional review before final grant awards are announced.

For more information on the I-95 southbound Rappahannock River Crossing, and to see project designs, please visit the project page online at www.VirginiaDOT.org.

Virginia’s governor wants money ‘off the top’ for Metro. But our ‘non-Metro’ jurisdictions like Prince William and Manassas say not so fast.

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It was a choice to pay those high tolls on I-66, says state transportation chief

RICHMOND – A month after the fury over what many drivers considered excessive tolls on Interstate 66, Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne defended the tolls, saying they are necessary for increasing the flow of traffic on the highway in Northern Virginia.

The tolls, which vary based on demand and amount of traffic, have reached as high as $44 for a 10-mile drive since they were implemented on Dec. 4.

“I would’ve anticipated that happening a lot lower than the $44, but it did not,” Layne said. “People chose to pay it, but it was a choice. Our other option is we could just limit the road when it reaches a certain level [to] HOV users. The issue with that is that we’re taking away that choice for the people who want to pay it.”

Layne spoke Tuesday to the General Assembly’s Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability. His report came a month after Del. Tim Hugo of Fairfax, who chairs the House Republican Caucus, called the I-66 tolls “exorbitant” and “unacceptable.”

The tolling is in effect weekdays only, during rush hours and in the peak direction, on about 10 miles of I-66, from Route 29 in Rosslyn to Interstate 495.

Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, said the high tolls are a result of a lack of state funding for road projects.

“This is all symptomatic of not having enough money to begin with to build the highways,” Wagner said. “We’re having to do these unique types of programs to build these highways.”

Del.-elect Danica Roem, a Democrat from Manassas, told Layne about constituents hit hard by the tolls. They included a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who must drive by himself as a part of his treatment. The constituent said that avoiding the tolls added 45 minutes to his commute.

Layne insisted that commuters can take alternate routes such as Route 50 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. But another constituent Roem spoke to said he commutes from Manassas Park to Georgetown and cannot take any alternate pathways. The driver stated that he does not know how to budget his money due to the varying tolls.

“That’s the beast of the dynamic tolling process: You don’t know what it’s going to be each day until the time you get there because it’s basically volume control,” Roem said. “He [the constituent from Manassas Park] had a number of concerns with this.”

Layne said the revenue from the tolls goes toward funding other transportation projects.

“They will help pay for the road construction; they will help pay for multi-modal transportation and operation of the road,” Layne said.

After monitoring the corridors surrounding I-66 and alternative routes, Layne said that so far the data indicated no significant change in travel time on those routes.

“We need to continue to monitor this, and it may require that we do adjustments, but as of right now we do not see any significant impact to these parallel corridors,” Layne said.

Last month, Hugo released a statement criticizing Layne and Gov. Terry McAuliffe on the toll rates.

“Governor McAuliffe has gone on TV several times this week saying $40 toll prices are the way ‘it’s supposed to work.’ I could not disagree more,” Hugo said. “The hard-working people of Northern Virginia should not be forced to get a part-time job to be able to afford to drive to their full-time job.”

These are Layne’s final days as the commonwealth’s secretary of transportation. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam has appointed former Lynchburg lawmaker Shannon Valentine to the position.

The money Virginia officials stand to lose if changes are made to I-66 tolls

ARLINGTON — A state official warns any changes to toll collection on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway could force changes to the highway improvement project taking place outside the ring road.

As part of the $3.5 billion effort to add E-ZPass toll lanes to I-66 between Gainesville in Prince William County and the Captial Beltway, the consortium building the lanes, I-66 Mobility Partners, gave $579 million in free money to the state to be used for transportation improvements.

The grant and the “outside the Beltway” E-ZPass toll lanes project are all predicated on tolls being collected on I-66 inside the Beltway, Nick Donohue, Virginia deputy transportation secretary told members of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission at its Jan. 4 meeting in Arlington.

“So the “outside the Beltway” [public-private partnership] contract includes a provision that will create a compensation event for the I-66 concessionaire [Express Mobility Parnters] where if the tolling hours or the HOV requirements are different than the 2016 compromise with the General Assembly, then they have the right to file the compensation that was likely would have some impact on that $578.9 concession payment that the commonwealth has received. I’m not in the game of speculating what that impact would be…,” said Donohue.

Without the tolls inside the Beltway, users would less likely to pay to use toll lanes on I-66 outside the Beltway because the trip would not be seamless, said Donohue. 

Express Mobility Partners told Potomac Local via email it has no comment on the matter. 

The specter of a “compensation event” is similar to a threat we heard from state officials this time last year when Prince William County Occoquan District Supervisor Ruth Anderson urged the Virginia Department of Transportation to extend a 4th southbound lane on I-95 from Route 123 to Prince William Parkway.

Donohue was appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and will continue to serve under incoming Gov. Ralph Northam. Donohue spent the better part of two hours Thursday taking questions, and in some cases taking fire for the conversion to tolls on I-66 inside the beltway that happened on Dec. 4, 2017. 

Now all drivers who use the portion of the highway between 5:30 a.m. to 9:30, and from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays, must have an E-ZPass, pay a toll to use the lanes, or have two or more people in the car to ride free. In addition to briefing public officials in 2015 on the plan to add tolls the highway,  Donohue said it was the General Assembly in 2015 which made a compromise to change the “HOV” hours on the highway, expanding them and hour and a half in the mornings.

“A compromise was reached with the General Assembly. A compromise means 51 people agree with it, at least, it doesn’t mean 100 people in the House or 40 people in the Senate, but it does mean a majority agree to compromise,” said Donohue.

Commuters and politicians have complained about the expanded tolling hours on the highway by saying drivers now need to leave the house earlier to get to work earlier to avoid paying a toll to use the lanes. Donohue said the conversion was necessary to avoid congestion by those drivers who would jam the highway to beat the clock, to get on the lanes before restrictions took effect. 

“It’s something we thought was necessary to try to ensure the roadway never became severely congested as those of you know in Northern Virginia, when a road becomes that congested recovering is extremely difficult,” said Donohue. 

Donohue also took heat from the recently added Loudoun County representatives on the NVTC, who pressed him on how the HOV rules (two or more ride free) are being enforced. 

“One of the reasons why we were seeing such degradation of the average speed prior is change because there were so many violators on the road and enforcement was very spotty. Anybody who travels the corridor could beat it very easy and a lot of people did. Now I’ve got some colleagues, and hopefully, you won’t go searching in my office and where I work with, who are still traveling 66 for free with the flex transponder. They simply just button, turn it on, it and now they’re traveling at the rate of HOV except they’re not, and they’ve been doing it now for a month. and however long they have got caught…So what’s the answer? Is there some sort of technology that is going to be able to catch people because the heart hasn’t really happened,” said Loudoun County Dulles District Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau.

The state is aware that some people are cheating the system, and it’s something it will continue to look into, replied Donohue. He also noted that prior to the conversion to tolls on I-66 on December 4, 2017, the number of people who were illegally driving in the HOV-2 lane was significantly higher than the number of drivers illegally using the HOV-3 lanes on I-95 prior to its conversion to tolls in 2014.

A total of 17 drivers paid toll rates of $44 for a one-way trip on the lanes, and 29 people chose to pay $40. However, the average toll for the first two weeks of operation was $13.48, about $3 than the $17 cost that was estimated when politicians first learned of the changes in 2015.

Officials said it will take at least six months to accurately gauge traffic patterns and toll trends. NVTC asked Donohue to return in May to brief them again on travel in the corridor.


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There are some changes to OmniRide’s Snow Emergency Plan

From OmniRide: 

PRTC’s new Emergency Service Plan brochure is available on buses and online. Please make sure to familiarize yourself with the plan as we enter the winter weather season.

This year’s changes to the plan include:

  • In the morning, OmniRide routes will only operate between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., with buses departing every 20 minutes.

  • Dale City – Washington/Pentagon/ Rosslyn/ Ballston/ Navy Yard. All AM buses start at the Lindendale Commuter Lot. Bus stops along Minnieville and Caton Hill ARE NOT SERVED. However, if PRTC runs regular service in the AM, and the ESP is implemented for PM service, passengers who need to travel to bus stops on Minnieville and Caton Hill roads should remain on the bus past the Lindendale Commuter Lot.

  • Gainesville – Washington/ Pentagon. All AM buses start at the Limestone Commuter Lot before serving the Cushing Road Commuter Lot. In the AM and PM, buses will follow Linton Hall Metro Direct routing.

  • South Route 1. AM passengers should board a shuttle bus at any PRTC bus stop along Route 1 between Fox Lair and Wayside Drive, and then transfer to a waiting Montclair OmniRide bus at the Route 234 Commuter Lot. In the PM, riders will share a bus with Montclair OmniRide passengers and transfer to a shuttle at the Route 234 Commuter Lot.

State police talk down suicidal man at Fredericksburg rest stop

A portion of Interstate 95 at Fredericksburg was closed briefly Tuesday just before 7 p.m. 

From Virginia State Police: 

As a trooper was conducting a routine Rest Area Safety Check, a vehicle in the parking lot caught his attention. He approached the vehicle to make certain everything was okay when he discovered the male, adult driver threatening suicide with a firearm. Additional state police resources responded to the scene. One of our troopers specially-trained in Crisis Intervention was able to talk the male subject into surrendering his weapon. The incident was safely resolved and the Rest Area cleared.

The highway was reopened to traffic at 7:05 p.m. 

From VDOT: 

All lanes of Interstate 95 southbound have re-opened in the vicinity of the Rappahannock River Bridge. Motorists should expect southbound travel delays as congestion clears the scene. Approximately 7 miles of congestion is reported.

Ferry update expected this week

First on Potomac Local 

An update on the fast ferry service proposed by Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi is expected this week. 

The update is scheduled to be given at Thursday’s meeting of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Commissioner’s Board meeting at 7 p.m., at the OmniRide headquarters in Woodbridge. 

There was very little advanced information about this ferry briefing including in the standard Board information package distributed prior to the meeting. A handout is expected to be distributed at Thursday’s meeting.

Principi in September held a special meeting to discuss the proposed ferry that could operate between Woodbridge and Washington, D.C.

Some of the challenges facing any future ferry boat service operating on the Potomac River would be debris floating in the water, slower speed limits that govern boat wake, icy conditions during winter, funding the construction of boat slips where passengers could board the boat, as well as be working to convince people to take the ferry instead of driving, slugging, or taking other forms of mass transit.

Principi, who serves as the PRTC Board of Commissioners Chairman in addition to his duties on the Board of Supervisors, has long talked about launching a commuter ferry service from Woodbridge to Washington. Other routes could possibly ferry workers across the Potomac River from Virginia to Maryland. 

Renewed talk of the ferry comes PRTC is in the midst of a rebranding effort to get people to think of the agency of more than a commuter bus company, but as more of a transit leader in the region, such as Washington’s Metro system.

 

Here’s how to use OmniRide to get the region’s airports

We told you this week that tickets for Virginia’s new passenger bus service “The Breeze” between Virginia Tech, Dulles Airport, and other parts of Northern Virginia sold out

One of the commenters asked why OmniRide couldn’t also provide direct service to Dulles Airport. 

So we asked, and spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo responded: 

The Breeze is a great addition to the communities it serves, and PRTC is happy to see that it’s having a positive impact on ridesharing!

While PRTC does not currently offer direct trips to area airports, our Metro Direct routes do provide airport connections.

  • The Prince William Metro Direct route links eastern Prince William County with the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, where passengers can catch a Metro train to Reagan National Airport.
  • The Manassas Metro Direct and Linton Hall Metro Direct routes link Manassas and Gainesville, respectively, with the Tysons Corner Metro Station. There, passengers can ride a Metro train to the Wiehle-Reston station and then hop on a connecting bus service to Washington Dulles airport.

While we do not currently have plans to add direct trips to the airports, PRTC has begun work on its Transit Development Plan (TDP) which will include a consideration of potential new services. With the Express Lanes being built on I-66 and congestion issues on Route 28, service in those corridors will be an area of focus for the TDP.

OmniRide aims to rebrand, improve image

 

Commuter bus agency to drop PRTC moniker

There’s OmniRide. That’s the commuter bus service that each weekday takes people from Prince William County and Manassas to Arlington and Washington, D.C. and then back again.

Then there’s OmniLink. Those are the local buses that serve stops within Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

OmniMatch is a commuter ride-finding service.

And, it all falls under the umbrella of one of the longest agency names in the region: The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission commonly referred to as PRTC.

Confused?

Prince William County’s transportation agency, PRTC, recognizes it has an identity crisis. And it’s doing something about it.

The agency is undergoing what Executive Director Robert “Bob” Schneider called a “brand renewal strategy.” The commuter bus service plans to ditch “PRTC” and instead be known simply as “OmniRide,” putting it in line with other area transportation agencies with one-name monikers like Fredericksburg’s “Fred,” Alexandria’s “DASH,” and Metro.

“We want to take a look at how to do we make ourselves more approachable and accessible to the community,” said Schneider.

It’s part of an overall effort to make the transit agency more of a commuter bus company, but more of a transit leader for the region, which could pave the way for its involvement in the future of ridesharing, or slugging, and a long-proposed Potomac River commuter ferry in Woodbridge.

The overall image of OmniRide would, hopefully, be one where the public no longer sees the agency as a drain on public resources but a partner in economic growth for the region.

Long known for its teal buses, new OmniRide buses could become a shade of green and blue. Its logo is expected to be modified, and it’s website updated.

As part of the rebranding, OmniRide wants to be known for:

  • Taking cars off Interstates 95 and 66
  • Being problem solvers
  • The people who get people to work and home faster
  • Providers of high-quality customer service

And since most products and services must have a tagline, OmniRide’s is “Get There Smarter.” That’s a change from the current slogan “The Ride That’s Right For You.” 

Schneider, who is relatively new to the transit agency, say’s he’d like to turn his 45-foot long commuter buses into billboards using a new color scheme to promote his agencies services.

The grey bus stop signs the dot roads in the county would also be updated. 

“Go and look at any of our bus stop signs and what do they say? ‘Bus stop.’ That’s it. There’s an opportunity to use those signs to brand us better,” said Schneider. 

Not everyone on the PRTC Board of Commissioners is excited.

“Do you think we should serve chocolate chip cookies, too?” quipped Jeanine Lawson, who sits on the Commission and also serves as the Prince William County Brenstville District Supervisor.

As OmniRide looks to transform its image, it also looks to consolidate its dispatch operations, and fix what it calls inefficiencies and redundancies by eliminating 12 jobs from the PRTC payroll and instead contract those positions to the company already contracted to drive OmniRide buses, First Transit, Inc.

In the midst of all of this, however, a letter obtained by the PRTC Board of Commissioners but not released claiming workplace discrimination has slowed the transformation process. This month, Commissioners said it could be February before an investigation into those claims is complete.

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