Manassas Journal Messenger | Lane Ranger for Monday, July 28, 2003

Dear Lane Ranger: This is about the traffic lights at the exit from the new Woodbridge Lowe’s store on Minnieville Road. The speed limit there is 45 mph. We have noticed many times the difficulty that fire and rescue vehicles with lights flashing and very loud sirens have trying to get out of the new Lowe’s store area onto Minnieville road. We have sat at that light many times and observed many fast-moving vehicles, sometimes as many as 10 in a row, refusing to give the right of way to the emergency vehicles.

Quite often the emergency vehicle, at great peril, has to bully its way out into traffic in order to respond to an emergency.

We suggest lowering the speed limit on Minnieville Road between Prince William County Parkway and Smoketown Road and installing remote traffic controls that can be activated only by police and fire vehicles. — Betty and Don McIntyre, Woodbridge

Dear Betty and Don: The problem is this kind of inconsiderate driving does not just occur at that intersection. Fire and Rescue spokesman Hadden Culp said drivers should stop and yield to emergency vehicles wherever they see them.

The Lane Ranger in his slice of the world usually sees drivers behaving around fire trucks and ambulances, so I can’t say my observations follow yours.

On remote traffic controls, other jurisdictions like Fairfax have begun using them. One model used by Fairfax City operates on a strobe light. Each truck has a signature in its strobe flashing and the intersection can record which vehicle and at what time it passed through.

Our county fire association is looking at what brand of remote traffic control it will purchase, Culp said. The problem is they are expensive, costing thousands of dollars for each intersection. It’s on the county’s strategic plan to have these installed.

The Lane Ranger will look into this further. I would prefer that the system have the ability to record when something goes through the intersection as other jurisdictions do. Response times are a touchy issue in Prince William because some areas are more rural than others. This kind of technology will provide another layer of measurement of how well our fire departments operate.

Dear Lane Ranger: Regarding the letter to you from Chris Christy on June 30 asking if there was any relief in sight about the horrendous traffic in the county: You were right to suggest he look toward our Prince William Board of County Supervisors and also right to say that development has been allowed to proceed without adequate proffers.

Your fellow columnist, Denise Oppenhagen, had this to say about our BOCS in her June 29 column, titled “Developers low-ball their proffers because county allows it”, referring to the recent Greater South Market: She wrote that the county supervisors allowed the proffers to be requested below the current minimum, and they are to blame.

Ed Wilbourn, Hilda Barg and John Jenkins are all up for re-election. These supervisors have for the last eight years rubber-stamped every new development to come down the pike with one result: the horrendous traffic jams we sit in on a daily basis. One can only hope the voters remember this in November. — Steve Zanzarella, Haymarket

Dear Steve: The Lane Ranger did not say that proffers are a panacea.

Yes, proffers need to be commensurate with the impact of development, but not enough to replace the responsibility of your government to fulfill its needs.

Individual developers are not responsible for traffic caused by other developers. Even the maximum proffer amounts offered by KSI hardly crack western Prince William’s traffic problem. I’d say we need like $300 million for the Gainesville Interchange, Va. 28 widening, the railroad overpasses, a realigned Vint Hill Road, and everything else. Greater South Market proffers were $12 million.

The sad thing is most people do not care about local politics so it’s easy pills like this “make the developers pay!” that get people elected.

The other is make “Richmond pay!”

Funny: It is ironic that our county board is up in arms over the District of Columbia attempting to get its “fair share” from us with a commuter tax, yet the board sits quietly as most of their Richmond delegation says the solution to our transportation crisis is to get more money from the rest of the state.

The only arrows left in our quiver is to steal from poor Southwest Virginia?

The rest of the state is broke, just like us.

Fairfax County knows this, and it’s not talking with its conservative Richmond lawmakers.

Oh, but we make nice down here. Everything is wonderful.

Ask your politician about Virginia’s $1 billion structural imbalance that comes due in next year’s budget. The Lane Ranger can’t get information from Richmond staffers on it. (One-time fixes: love ’em, get elected with ’em.)

Developers give us what we want — read the real estate section. If homes were not being built in Gainesville and Haymarket, there’d be nothing to buy. Growth would just be moved further out, and those same people would still be passing through on our roads.

One segment of Va. 234 widening officially done

The latest segment of the four-lane widening of Va. 234 will be officially done Tuesday: The 2.6-mile portion from Purcell Road to Snowfall Drive.

Traffic is already running on the new lanes.

It’s come in at $1 million over budget, according to Virginia Department of Transportation’s online Dashboard Web site. Story developing. No word on where that money came from. The widening was supposed to be done last November, then this spring, but of course the rain didn’t help. A lot of additional pieces got added to the puzzle, like turn lanes for Meadowgate Drive with the steep slope into the neighborhood.

Last year we finished the 2-mile section from Coles Drive to Purcell Road. In 2006, the 3-mile segment from Snowfall Drive to Eclipse Drive will be completed.

No transparent wall for Occoquan

The Va. 123 bridge project was advertised for construction bids earlier this month without a transparent sound wall as part of the deal.

“Unfortunately that one is more costly and reflective so it would send the noise to the other side of the road. The town doesn’t have the money to pay the additional cost,” said VDOT project manager Helen Cuervo.

The design retains standard soundwalls that absorb rather than reflect sound. And with them motorists will not be able to see the Town of Occoquan.

The owner of Riverwalk at Occoquan has the final say on whether a soundwall will be used at all. She can still opt out of one. Look for an update in September when the bridge design has to be done.

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; email to: [email protected]; or by phone: (703) 878-8062.

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