Advancing a livable & sustainable greater Prince William, Virginia

Tag: transportation (Page 2 of 2)

How to Submit a Request to Clear Debris from Sidewalks and Trails

If you walk or bike with any frequency in Northern Virginia, I am sure that you have encountered sand, dirt, gravel, grit, broken glass, etc. covering sidewalks and bike trails along our roadways. VDOT has a website for residents to submit service requests that takes only a few minutes to complete. The process is outlined below.

Debris on sidewalk before request was submitted

Photo of debris blocking sidewalk along Old Bridge Rd across from the Old Bridge/Rt 123 Commuter Parking Lot

Sidewalk after clearing by VDOT

Sidewalk after clearing by VDOT within 24 hours of submitted request.

Most roadways and their associated sidewalks and shared-use paths in Northern Virginia are managed by the Virginia Dept of Transportation (VDOT). Exceptions to this rule are where roads are privately owned, such as in some Home Owners Associations, and in some cities, towns, and Counties (such as Arlington County). Most roads in Fairfax and Prince William Counties are owned and maintained by VDOT, not the County governments; therefore, requests to fix problems on the roadways and their associated sidewalks and shared-use paths need to be directed to VDOT on their My VDOT website.

Much of the sand, gravel, grit and debris on our roadsides, curbs, sidewalks, and shared-use paths is left over from the heavy salting, sanding, and plowing that occurred back in January. VDOT does not have a scheduled maintenance program for clearing debris, but they do respond to resident’s requests.

You can easily submit a request on-line for VDOT to clear debris from specific areas that you identify. We recommend that you take a photo of the issue that you want addressed, then visit the My VDOT website.

1. Select the Type of Request

My VDOT Service Request

My VDOT Service Request Initial Page

On the My VDOT website, select “I need something removed from a road”, then on the right, under “What do you need removed?”, select “Remove debris”, then below that, under “Where is it located?” select “On the shoulder or in the ditch”. Once you have done this, click the Continue button.

2. Enter the Location

My VDOT Service Request

My VDOT Service Request Location Page

On the Location page, you will enter information about where the debris needs removal from. You can either zoom in on the map and click the location to drop a pin, or you can enter an address.  Once you have provided an accurate location, click the Continue button.

3. Add Details and a Photo

My VDOT Service Request

My VDOT Service Request Details Page

On the Details page enter any other information VDOT maintenance crews should know about the issue, such as details about the debris, or if it is blocking or impeding use of the road/sidewalk/trail. Enter a description, and be sure to mention if the debris needs clearing from a sidewalk or trail (shared-use path). Under the “Do you have an image or file to share?” section click the Choose File button to add the photo that you took of the debris, then click the Continue button.

4. Enter Contact Information

On the last page, enter your name and email address, and check the boxes if you want to be notified about status updates or create an account (both optional). You can receive status updates via email or text messages (if you provide a mobile phone number).

My VDOT Service Request

My VDOT Service Request Contact Page

You can also check the status of your submitted service requests by returning to the MyVDOT website and logging on if you created an account, or by entering a service request number.

MyVDOT Service Request Status

MyVDOT Service Request Status

NOTE: Residents can also submit service requests to VDOT for trail and sidewalk repairs, and road issues like pot holes and sign repair. The first webpage  has options for other types of requests under “How can we help you?”

Active Prince William, Promoting Options for Sustainable Transportation and Healthy Living

Back in the day it was “drive a Chevrolet and see the USA”, as the ad indicates cars were promoted for the freedom they offered.  Now flash forward to your trip to work today as you sit in traffic waiting and waiting, and ask where is that freedom of movement?  Do you want more freedom over your travel to work? Do you want to improve your happiness, want to add quality years to your life, want to save money, and reduce your stress?  Do you want a better quality of life for yourselves and your children?  If the answer is yes, what are you waiting for? Give your car a break and try a different mode of transportation, increasing the amount of time you walk, bike, or take a bus.cross county connector in downtown manassas with bike 2

Active Prince William is a non-profit group focused on improving availability of transit options and quality of transit infrastructure within Prince William County.  We encourage people to try different options versus driving to work, school and for other errands.

This is not an all or nothing approach.  Try a new way of getting to work, school or other destinations at least once a month to see how it can make a positive difference in your life.  People who take transit, walk or drive to work indicate a higher level of happiness.  If you are on transit you have time to check out your smartphone (legally), read, or even take a nap.  If your children walk or bike to school they may exhibit greater attention in the classroom, higher self-esteem, and get more physical activity on average.

Sedentary behavior is on the rise and time spent in cars adds to this by sitting for PRTC-transit-center-200x200extended periods of time in traffic. Research shows that this increase in sedentary behavior is leading to a shortening of life spans.  Wait you say we can just add another lane or two.  Research indicates that adding lanes of traffic creates induced demand resulting in clogged highways, increased pollution, additional crashes, injuries and fatalities.

How about saving money (everyone likes this).  Using transit, biking, or walking reduces money spent on fuel and maintenance for your car.  Money saved can be spent on housing, education and the like.

Forbes recently pointed out that the average traffic delay, time spent in stop-and-go traffic, per commuter is 42 hours each year, up from 18 hours annually in 1982. We’re losing patience, getting less healthy, being unproductive, wasting money, and polluting the air. And from the flip-side perspective, a new report has found that reducing the time employees spend in cars is one of best things a business can do for itself, for a whole host of reasons.

Telework is another great option for many workers.  There are at least five ways that telework benefits the employer and the employee, it increases productivity, lowers turnover, improves morale, is eco-friendly and is cost effective.121212-VRE-e1355311505681

We are poised to have a huge growth in population and jobs.  As we try to keep, and attract, new businesses we need to have a transportation base that is multi-modal.  The future is one with less driving and more multi-modal options.  This leads to a healthier environment where everyone can thrive.

Active Prince William’s Bicycle Parking Campaign Highlighted by What ‘s Up Woodbridge News Site.

Improving the availability of bicycle parking in Prince William and Greater Manassas Area is a stated goal of Active Prince William. Recently we have been working with Prince William County and VDOT officials and staff to encourage installation of bicycle racks at transit stations. Just recently new bike racks were installed at the Woodbridge VRE station both outside (see photo below), and inside the parking garage so bikes can be stored out of the elements.

New bike rack installed at Woodbridge VRE Station

New bike rack recently installed at Woodbridge VRE Station.

County Bicycle Parking Guidelines. Fairfax County recently adopted Bicycle Parking Guidelines, and we hope to see Prince William follow suit. We have been engaged with the County via the Trails and Blueways Council (TBC) and PW DOT to officially establish bicycle rack installation guidelines in the County’s construction manual.  This will help ensure that any new bicycle racks that are installed by the County, developers, or businesses, follow best practices.

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Map of Route from Old Town Manassas Bike Rack Inventory Ride.

Mapping Existing Bike Racks. In order to better understand and address bicycle parking availability in the area, Active Prince William is actively mapping all the existing bicycle racks that we can find in Prince William County and Greater Manassas.  We are using a website developed by Bike Arlington, called Rackspotter to map bicycle parking and enable users to find the locations of bike parking when they need it. So far, we have mapped 82 bike racks and lockers across the area. In an effort to find and map every available bike rack in the Old Town Manassas vicinity, we conducted a bike rack inventory by bicycling over 9 miles through the area searching for racks (see map of our route).

Here is the article by What’s Up Woodbridge about Active Prince William and our Bicycle Parking Campaign:

Where are all the bike racks in Prince William?

Bi-County Parkway Gone from County Plan; Takes Safe I-66 Bicycle Crossing With It

On March 15th, the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors voted to remove the Bi-County Parkway from the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Unfortunately, along with it goes one of only a few planned shared-use trail crossing of Interstate 66 (I-66). Options to replace the trail crossing in the comprehensive plan may soon be considered by the County Planning Office.

I66 - Route 234 Interchange Overview

Active Prince William supported Supervisors’ vote, as the Bi-County Parkway would have negatively impacted the protected Rural Crescent and increased truck traffic through Prince William County, while primarily benefiting Loudoun County and the Dulles Airport Authority (more background on the Bi-County Parkway). But the now-defunct Parkway did include one key benefit for Prince William residents: the plan called for a shared-use trail along its entire length, opening up a significant area for recreation to many Western Prince William County residents, and providing a key crossing of I-66, which is a significant barrier to bicylists, hikers, and walkers in the Manassas National Battlefield Park and the surrounding area. Now plans need to be updated to replace the shared-use path crossing of I-66 that was lost with the removal of the Bi-County Parkway.

Options to replace the Bi-County shared use path crossing of I-66 may soon be considered by the County’s Planning Office as part of a technical update of the County’s trails and non-motorized transportation portions of the Comprehensive Plan, or during the Transportation Chapter update that will begin in the next year. The Prince William County Trails and Blueways Council (TBC) has discussed adding Groveton Road to the Comprehensive Plan as an I-66 crossing along with the addition of proposed bicycling improvements for Pageland Lane, a partly unpaved road that parallels I-66 West from Groveton then turns North where the Bi-County Parkway would have been built (see the map below, key: Bi-County Parkway in Red, Groveton Road in Green, and Pageland Lane in Blue).

The only existing safe crossing of I-66 along the approximately 10 mile stretch from the Fairfax County line to Route 15 is located at University Blvd (see map below). Other planned crossings are currently unsafe for people walking or biking, and include:

  • Sudley Rd (Rt 234 Business)
  • Catharpin Rd (under construction)
  • Old Carolina Rd (bridge updated)
  • Rt 15 (under construction)

VDOT has suggested 2 additional bicycle/pedestrian I-66 crossings as part of its future I-66 Outside the Beltway expansion project, under the I-66 overpass at Bull Run and at Groveton Rd. To see the full VDOT I-66 Trail plan, click here. Both of these VDOT proposed trail crossings have been discussed by the TBC, but are not currently in the PWC Comprehensive Plan.

NOTE: Even though PWC is removing the Bi-County Parkway from its Comprehensive Plan, VDOT and others still have plans for the Bi-County Parkway. So, it isn’t necessarily “dead”… yet.

Commuting to the Mark Center Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

Mark Center Army Photo

View of the Mark Center Building. – from Wikipedia.org

New commuting options to the Mark Center are available with the opening of the new I-395 high occupancy vehicle (HOV) ramp to Seminary Rd earlier this month from locations in Dale City, Woodbridge, and Lake Ridge. Commuter bus provider PRTC announced today that it will begin a new commuter bus service to the Mark Center, and casual carpooling, called slugging, commenced from the Horner Rd Commuter Lot shortly after the HOV ramp was opened.

Federal employees and contractors assigned to work at the Federal Mark Center Building now have additional commuting options. The new ramp that connects the I-395 HOV lanes with Seminary Rd opened on January 11th, creating a smoother, more efficient connection to the Mark Center, and has enabled casual carpooling and now commuter bus service to commence.

mark-center-routes

PRTC Mark Center Commuter Bus Routes – from PRTC website

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) has been preparing an express bus service to the Mark Center in anticipation of the opening of the I-395 HOV ramp. There are 2 routes, one that travels through Dale City along Dale Blvd and one that starts in Lake Ridge traveling down Old Bridge Rd. The map below from PRTC illustrates the 2 routes. More detailed information including schedules is available on the PRTC web site here.

Horner_Rd_New_slug_line_to_Mark_Center

New Mark Center slugline location in the Horner Rd Commuter Lot. – map courtesy of www.sluglines.com

Slugging is an ad hoc form of carpooling or ride-sharing that began back in the DC area in the 1970’s. Slugging is informal, mutually beneficial to the parties involved, and best of all, free-of-charge. Most of the sluglines originate at commuter lots that are also served by PRTC buses, providing an important backup for riders. Since the conversion of HOV lanes to high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes along I-95/I-395 in late 2014, the driver of a vehicle in the HOT lanes with 2 or more passengers (HOV3) can use an E-Z Pass Flex switched to HOV-ON mode that enables use of the HOT lanes toll-free.

The slugline in the Horner Rd Commuter Lot is located in the parking row just East of the Crystal City slugline. See the map on the right for the detailed location.

The evening slugline to return from the Mark Center forms on the North side of the building as noted in the map below.

MarkCenter_sluglineJPG

Location of Mark Center evening slugline. – provided courtesy of www.sluglines.com

Background: The Mark Center Building, located along I-395 with access to Seminary Rd in Alexandria, VA, was built to consolidate Dept of Defense staff from various locations in Roslyn, Crystal City, and other locations in DC and N. Virginia into a secure, non-commercial facility.  Due to its isolated location from previously existing mass transit, from the opening of the Mark Center in 2011 until this month, there were few commuting options to the Mark Center for Prince William County residents.

Seminary Rd HOV Access Ramp - undercontruction

I-395 HOV Ramp to Seminary Rd under construction – from Google Streetview.

MarkCenter ramp contruction

I-395 HOV Ramp to Seminary Rd under construction – from Google Streetview.

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