I-66W widened to six lanes at Gainesville

LocalBy Dan Roem Source: Courtesy of The Gainesville Times FRIDAY, APRIL 9 2010

"Well Hallejuiah, there's more lanes."

Western Prince William Del. Bob Marshall (R-13th) underscored the sentiment of western Prince William County commuters after VDOT opened six westbound lanes of Interstate 66 on April 2.

Three lanes are designated for through traffic, eventually merging into two lanes along the way toward Haymarket.

Two lanes are for Exit 43A, which leads motorists south on U.S. 29 into Gainesville toward Warrenton.

The furthest right lane for Exit 43B is for northbound traffic heading toward U.S. 29 and Heathcote Boulevard.

The new westbound lanes mean more than just a quicker commute near Gainesville.

Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, called the project "another important missing link in the system in terms of of widening (I-66) out to Gainesville and ultimately beyond.”


Transportation, Economy Top Issues At Chamber Forum

By Erika Jacobson Moore Source: Courtesy of Leesburg Today

Eight candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates squared off this morning, taking on familiar topics during the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce's candidate forum. As they have in all recent elections in Virginia, transportation and the economy topped the list of issues, and priorities, for each candidate.

Fielding questions from a three-person Chamber panel, candidates were pushed to answer how they would deal with the continued economic decline, how they would prioritize much needed changes to the state budget, transportation funding, energy resources for Northern Virginia and continue to improve business in the region.

With few barbs exchanged between opponents in the 13th, 32nd, 67th and 86th House of Delegates districts, there were many points on which the candidates agreed, notably the need for a change to the local composite index to see that Northern Virginia receives more of the tax money it sends down to Richmond back in its communities.


Marshall, Bell debate Transportation, Priorities in race for 13th

By Dan Roem Source: Gainesville Times THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 2009

Candidates for the 13th District House of Delegates seat clashed Sept. 22 in Manassas, offering differing views on transportation funding and legislative priorities while also agreeing on several key points.

Incumbent Del. Bob Marshall, a Republican from Manassas, focused on a list of legislative initiatives and achievements he has made during 17 years in the state General Assembly. During his opening remarks, Marshall listed 10 legislative accomplishments including a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and Gov. Tim Kaine's (D) request that he introduce a smart growth bill.

"I say what I mean and do what I say. I say the same thing here as I do elsewhere. You won't find any contradictions," said Marshall.

Challenger John Bell, a Democrat from South Riding, spoke more broadly, repeatedly citing his experience as a financial officer and comptroller in the Air Force to convey the point that he knows how to manage budgets.


Virginia Lawmakers Say ‘No’ to Bill Reopening Rest Areas

Source: Land Line Magazine The likelihood of Virginia reopening its closed rest areas anytime soon suffered a blow this week at the state Capitol.

Lawmakers who wanted to take advantage of a special session of the General Assembly to put before legislators an effort to reopen 18 rest areas will instead have to wait until next year. The rest areas were closed on July 21.

The House of Delegates voted 82-7 on Wednesday, Aug. 19, to limit the chamber’s business to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. As a result, consideration of a bill to reopen rest areas must wait until the next regular session convenes in January.

A group of lawmakers had sought to bring up for consideration a bill to have Gov. Tim Kaine and the Virginia Department of Transportation come up with the $9 million the agency says is needed to reopen the rest areas.

One option touted by Delegate Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, calls for delaying a $12 million renovation to VDOT’s central office in Richmond.

Another possible solution was addressed in a recent letter to the editor to the Culpeper Star Exponent. Delegate Bob Marshall, R-Culpeper, requested the state’s secretary of transportation to shift some of the available maintenance funds into the rest areas that have been shuttered.

Among the most important reasons for reopening the rest areas that Marshall cited are the effects it has on over-the-road truck drivers who are required by law to stop and rest.

“In the long run the closures will cost us more both in lives as a result of higher need for emergency services,” Marshall wrote.


Potty Politics, Part II

Written by Amy Gardner, Source: The Washington Post

Even as the clock ticks down on the life of 18 rest stops set to close tonight across Virginia, lawmakers, statewide officials and even political candidates are weighing in.

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) worked the ranks of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation pretty heavily on Friday, trying to attach an amendment to this year's transportation spending bill that would allow Virginia to privatize its rest stops. The move would have kept the facilities open -- and opened them up to the Sbarros, Starbucks and Cinnabons that we all know and love on our journeys through Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

Enter the fast-food lobby, which pressured members of the subcommittee to leave well enough alone so as not to kill the McDonald's and Wawa franchisees with strategic locations just off some of the exit ramps of Virginia's federal highway system. It's a reasonable discussion point: Should the state take business away from private business operators?

State Del. Bob Marshall, meanwhile, spent much of Saturday (and today) at the rest stop on Interstate 66 near Manassas asking travelers how they feel about the pending shuttering of nearly half of the state's 40-something rest areas. (Answer: not good). Marshall has good reason to feel pretty strongly about the issue: his son died on Interstate 81 after rear-ending a tractor-trailer parked along the side of the road for lack of a safer place to stop.


Governor, Supervisors Seek Rest Area Help


Coffee-chugging tourists can take heart: There appears to be no ... well ... rest in the fight to keep open nearly half of Virginia’s rest areas.

State Transportation Secretary Pierce R. Homer sent a letter Thursday to the Old Dominion’s congressional delegation, seeking federal help to allow businesses to operate at interstate rest stops.

Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors likewise sent a letter to the congressmen and senators who represent the locality in Washington.

And Gov. Timothy M. Kaine sent a letter to Rep. John W. Olver, who chairs the House Appropriations Transportation subcommittee.

Nineteen of 42 highway rest stops — including those on Interstate 95 in Dale City and Interstate 66 in Manassas — are slated to close to save $9 million toward a $2.6 billion transportation budget shortfall.

All but one would be shuttered Tuesday, forcing full-bladdered motorists to exit the highways for relief.

However, Homer wrote, if federal law prohibiting business activity at Virginia rest areas was changed, that commerce could be a saving grace.