Lane Ranger for March 17

Dear Lane Ranger:

As my carpool of seven sat in an HOV lane listening to the radio tell us of the backup on HOV, talk turned to the traffic light at Eastlawn Avenue and Cardinal Drive.

I reported to the group that last evening about 9 p.m. after just missing the opportunity to turn left off southbound Minneville onto Cardinal lane, I waited for the extended light to give me a second chance to make a legal turn. There was no on coming traffic for the entire light cycle. When the green arrow finally illuminated and allowed at least a dozen cars to turn left, we all came to a stop at Eastlawn Avenue to witness a single car turn left off of Eastlawn.

I would have assumed that when the light was installed that it would have been linked to the signal at Minneville and Cardinal. A co-carpooler reported that you reported such a pledge in response to a letter he wrote. This turn off of Minneville onto Cardinal and wait at Eastlawn has happened several times.

Are the two lights signals linked? Or is this another case of traffic light-created gridlock? — Jeff Beach of Montclair

Dear Jeff:

That’:s right, the two lights should be linked because of the heavy traffic left off of Cardinal Drive. And what did I find? A light problem with a solution!

Virginia Department of Transportation engineers visited the area last week and found out the internal clock at the Eastlawn Avenue light drifts as the day goes on, said spokesman Bruce Williams.

Internal time clocks are what make coordination of signal timings possible, he said. Any drift would seriously impact that coordination. The light is under contract at this time, so VDOT notified the contractor and it should be fixed this week.

I wonder if this drift is the same kind evidenced by my cell phone’:s clock that is fast so I think I’:m using evening minutes at 9 p.m.

Ridgewood signal on flash

We’:re all old-timers because we can say we remember when there was only one light on the Prince William Parkway at the McCoart Administration Center and G. Richard Fitzner Stadium. The Lane Ranger is not complaining, only noting that change is occurring.

We have three lights there now, with the third now on flash and going active sometime this week at Ridgewood Center Drive.

The 1.5-mile Ridgefield Road was completed last fall, linking the Prince William County Parkway with Dale Boulevard and relieving traffic on Hillendale Drive.

With all these lights around McCoart, what has happened, you might ask?

The $110,000 paid for the Ridgewood light is for safety, plain and simple.

Ridgefield is a major road.

Did you know the town center will be directly opposite it on the parkway? So, this light’:s importance will increase as we go on. We’:ve always needed this light for government employees and baseball/softball fans.

These lights are concentrated in one area, meaning land-use planning has made a sort of hub here in the county center — it’:s not just Gainesville that has a sector plan. And looking at the prices, as typical of smart growth, that square footage is not cheap. Of course, looking at assessments, not much of anything is lately.

information is out there

If you’:re into roads like me and haven’:t already done so, you need to check out VDOT’:s Dashboard, their new online project management system that was publicized last week. It’:s at

It tells whether projects are on schedule or coming in under bid. I just started looking and found the smaller of the two ongoing Va. 123 widening contracts is more than 10 percent behind. That’:s the segment from Lee Chapel Road to Davis Drive. The first segment that has been underway 571 days is on time and 81.7 percent complete. That’:s the part that starts at Burke Lake Road.

To find the details you have to go over to the main Web site and click on projects, to see maps and what the project actually is.

I found a $1 million contract for Wellington Road Phase I at Va. 28 is less than 10 percent done. But I’:m not sure what this is, the project is not listed as one of the projects in Prince William on the Web site. But you can keyword search and deduce this is part of the first of two grade separations planned over the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in Manassas. Whether it is design or preliminary track moving, the second one being my strongest guess. I’:m telecommuting as I write this so I don’:t have my files, just like any other Web surfer.

Still, lots of great information, very transparent — you don’:t get this a lot in government.

The VDOT reform bill will be signed by Gov. Mark R. Warner on Tuesday, and that will put all the funding sources information on the internet. This Dashboard concept was put in by VDOT Commissioner Philip Shucet.

Please send questions or comments on transportation to: Lane Ranger, c/o Potomac News, P.O. Box 2470, Woodbridge, VA 22195; fax: (703) 878-8099; e-mail to [email protected] or by phone: (703) 878-8062.

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