Archive for June, 2015

VDOT Holds Meetings to Discuss Future of I66 from Haymarket to 495

The Virginia Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, recently concluded a round of public hearings to update the public on the “I-66 Outside the Beltway” project.

According to VDOT documents, the project would transform 25 miles of Interstate 66, from Haymarket to Interstate 495, into a “multi-modal corridor that moves traffic and people more efficiently.” Multi-modal transportation makes use of rail, light rail, highway lanes, including toll lanes, and bus rapid transit.

The hearings also gave the public the opportunity to provide input on several options for improving I-66 along the corridor.

People who attended any of the four public hearings across Northern Virginia learned that an initial, or Tier I study, completed in 2013, identified several concepts that could ease traffic congestion along the corridor. Some of the concepts were advanced for consideration in a Tier 2 environmental study that was completed in 2014. A Tier 2 study describes the scope and needs of a project, examines alternatives and effects of the alternatives on the surrounding environment and considers agency and public involvement.

The Tier 2 study identified several alternatives for improving I-66. The most feasible at present includes expanding I-66 to include three regular travel lanes and two express lanes in each direction and the use of high-frequency bus rapid transit in the express lanes. Adding additional park-and-ride lots along the corridor is also included among the proposed options. 

The express lanes would follow existing models on Interstate 95 and I-66 where cars with at least three occupants could travel without charge. All others would pay on a sliding scale depending on traffic volume.

Adding bus rapid transit to the toll lanes would also ease congestion along the corridor, said Renee Hamilton, a VDOT Deputy District Administrator.

“The first thing we’re trying to do is, one, move more people. We’re focusing on improving the safety along the corridor, as well as connecting the existing regional transit service, the express lanes and the HOV lanes and encouraging carpooling,” Hamilton said. 

While extending Metrorail was considered, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority indicated to VDOT that it has no plans at present to extend Metro west. Instead, the authority will concentrate on adding cars to the Silver Line and upgrading existing systems, Hamilton said. 

“We’re not saying no to Metro. We’re just saying that they’ve actually indicated that it’s not now,” Hamilton said. 

The next steps in the process include reviewing the input from the public hearings to identify the preferred alternative and refining design concepts. A design public hearing is planned in 2016.

While funding for the project has not yet been determined, a range of options is being considered that will bring together financial experts, public and elected officials and advisors to find a way to pay for the project. The options will be presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, in order to advance the project into the procurement phase.

VDOT expects that construction will begin in 2017 with lanes opening in 2021.

More information is available at www.transform66.org.

Road Work on Vint Hill and Route 28 during Weekends This Summer

Road work on Vint Hill Road and Va. 28 will create lane closures and detours in the area throughout the summer. The road closures will be part of road improvements to widen Va. 28 between Linton Hall Road and Fitzwater Drive. The realignment of Vint Hill Road is part of the project.

Vint Hill Road:

The first weekend closure of Vint Hill Road at Va. 28 will be this weekend between 10 p.m. on Friday, June 5, and 4 a.m. on Monday, June 8, according to the Prince William County Department of Transportation 

Vint Hill Road at Va. 28 will be closed again between 10 p.m. on Fridays and 4 a.m. on Mondays during the weekends of July 17 through Aug. 16.

The detour around the work on Vint Hill Road will be Schaeffer Lane to Determination Road.

Major bypass routes are Linton Hall Road and Sudley Manor Drive. At all times access will be maintained to and from the Grizzly Sports Field Complex. This detour could end earlier depending upon completion of the roadwork.

Va. 28:

Va. 28, at Vint Hill Road, will be closed on weekend nights only for three weekends in June and one weekend in July.

The weekend closures on Va. 28 are:

  • June 12 – June 14

  • June 19 – June 21

  • June 26 – June 28

  • July 10 – July 12

The closures are only on those weekend nights at the following times:

  • 10 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Saturday

  • 10 p.m. Saturday through 5 a.m. Sunday

  • 10 p.m. Sunday through 4 a.m. Monday

Traffic will be detoured to Kettle Run Road to get around the work on Va. 28.

Major bypass routes are Fitzwater Dr., Kettle Run Road and Vint Hill Road. At all times, access will be maintained to local traffic, however access to Bristow Village will be restricted to the Bristow Road entrance.

The lane closure schedule is tentative to the construction schedule, progress and weather.

More information about the Route 28 project can be found at www.pwcgov.org/transportation.

MyLink, OmniLink’s Teen Summer Bus Pass

With a MyLink Pass, anyone age 13-19 can get unlimited rides on OmniLink and Cross County Connector buses between June 1 and September 5, 2015 for a one-time cost of just $30.

Once again this year, PRTC is partnering with several teen-friendly area attractions like Prince William Ice Center and Bowl America to offer additional discounts and add value to the MyLink Pass!

For more information about the MyLink Pass, including where and how to buy, visit http://www.prtctransit.org/special-programs/youth-programs/teen-programs.html

Pesky Pests and What Can be Done About Them

It’s that time of year when people start thinking about mosquitoes and other pesky insects. Tim McGonegal, Prince William County’s Mosquito and Forest Pest Management Branch Chief, said his team aims to keep the public educated on how to deal with the pests; at the same time, they control the pests where they can. Public outreach, trapping and surveillance, source reduction and control, to include spraying, are the tools the branch uses to control mosquitos, ticks and forest pests.

Public outreach can help people learn how to reduce the occurrence of pests. Last year, people from the branch went to farmer’s markets, the county fair, libraries and children’s events to bring people information. The best source reduction for mosquitos, which can carry the West Nile Virus, is to eliminate standing water in places such as corrugated pipes, wheelbarrows, buckets and trash cans or blocked drainage ditches, McGonegal said. “Anything that holds water for more than four or five days can breed these mosquitos. One mosquito can lay 300 eggs at one time, so it can get out of hand real quick.”

Trapping and surveillance lets the branch experts monitor mosquito populations. The branch team can use measures such as bacterial products to control larvae or spraying to kill adult mosquitos. The bacterial products currently in use target mosquito larvae and don’t harm beneficial insect larvae such as dragonflies larvae. “We use a variety of techniques to control and monitor these pests, and we do this so there’s the least possible hazard to people, property and … the environment, so we’re using very safe products when we’re dealing with our pests,” McGonegal said. 

McGonegal said the nature of the West Nile virus and the low occurrence of virus in mosquitos make the chance of humans contracting the virus slim. “It’s actually a bird mosquito cycle in nature, so there’s a limited opportunity for people to get it. It’s always going to be here, but it doesn’t happen at a high incidence, so there’s not a ton of human cases.” 

McGonegal said the branch tries to get someone out to inspect within 24 hours if they get a mosquito complaint.

Controlling ticks, which can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease, is a more difficult proposition, McGonegal said. Ticks are dispersed and there isn’t a spray specifically designed for them. Spraying for ticks with general insecticides will also kill beneficial bugs. “It’s very hard to do county-wide.” 

Surveillance and monitoring come into play as defenses to prevent tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. Regular testing in areas where people are likely to be exposed to ticks carrying the diseases can determine if treatment is appropriate. 

Trapping and surveillance of tree-harming insects and diseases such as fall cankerworms, gypsy moths, Asian long-horned beetles, emerald ash borers and thousand canker disease are the main ways to control the spread of forest pests. Surveillance, monitoring and trapping helps the branch monitor determine what treatment is appropriate if forest pests are found, McGonegal said. 

If people suspect that they have a problem with these pests, they can call 703-792-6279 for advice or visit the branch website for more information.