A tale of two exits

MANASSAS — First-time visitors approaching Manassas via Interstate 66 are having troubles hitting the right exit.

It is an issue Roger Snyder, director of community development for Manassas, has been dealing with for the past four years.

“People have been confused about which [Va.] 234 [exit] they want to get off at,” Snyder said. “On the signs, there is no difference between the business route and the bypass.”

The matter became more complicated with the completion of the $34 million southern link of the Va. 234 Bypass, which opened Oct. 22.

The confusion has officials from the city, county and state meeting to discuss placement of more exit signs to differentiate between Va. 234 Business –Sudley Road– and Va. 234 south — Prince William Parkway.

Snyder updated members of the Manassas City Council regarding the three-party meeting; council members agreed — something needs to be done.

“There needs to be some changes made,” said Councilman Harry J. “Hal” Parrish II.

Parrish gave several examples of driver confusion.

“There are people who think they are going to Manassas, but then wind up on [Interstate] 95,” he said of motorists who mistakenly take the newly opened road.

Parrish gave an example of a visiting doctor unfamiliar with the area who was attempting to deliver an organ to Prince William Hospital. Following directions, the doctor took the Va. 234 exit, but ended up on the bypass, missing the hospital entirely.

“Also the zamboni for our ice rink was misdirected,” Parrish said.

The zamboni for the newly finished Loy E. Harris Pavilion was en route from Canada when its driver met up with the two Va. 234s. Parrish said that the driver, who was headed for Old Town Manassas, found himself on I-95 before he realized somewhere along the line he had taken a wrong turn.

“There are hundreds of anecdotal stories like that,” Snyder said.

Snyder met with Virginia Department of Transportation officials, and although VDOT was not in favor of renaming the road altogether, they were willing to compromise to make traveling smoother for visiting motorists.

“We will still have the tale of two 234s, but the new signs should be more help,” Snyder said.

The new signs will list all roads connecting to and including Sudley Road to be listed as Va. 234 Business (Manassas), and the bypass and parkway to be listed as Va. 234 (Prince William Parkway).

“There will be more signage at the intersections, and they will be clearly marked,” Snyder said. “The city will add ‘Business’ to all of its 234 signs. They are under construction right now.”

State maps also will be updated so they match the signs. Currently, maps list Va. 234 and Va. 234 Bypass; however, the new maps will show a Va. 234 and Va. 234 Business. The timing is good as the updated maps are expected out soon to feature the state’s new governor.

Snyder said that there is also talk of giving Prince William Parkway its own marker. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors still have to work out the details, but a defining sign is important for the parkway, Snyder said.

“The parkway allows people to travel from interstate to interstate and it should be noted in some way,” Snyder said.

Staff writer Trina Goethals can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 121.

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