The Community Appearance Alliance of Northern Virginia recently recognized the Virginia Department of Transportation for its flower-power efforts.
VDOT planted and maintains more than 50 acres of native and ornamental wildflowers, and one million bulbs along roads in Prince William, Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, according to a recent news release.
In addition to the enjoyment factor, these colorful flowers command drivers’ attention, keeping them alert on otherwise dull, hypnotic roadways, according to VDOT.
The flowers also help the environment by discouraging litter and providing nourishment for birds and beneficial insects, VDOT wrote.
Long commutes and traffic mean more automobile runoff, which eventually dumps into the suffering Chesapeake Bay, experts say.
Native plants can help prevent a range of pollutants from entering the Bay and its tributaries by providing a natural filter, according to http://www.savebay.org.
While flowers won’t solve the congestion, environmental or other problems, any planting initiative in this region of exploding development should be applauded as a positive step.
The Lane Ranger appreciates VDOT, the garden clubs, civic and professional organizations and residents for participating in this program since it started in 1976.
They should plant more flowers and a variety of native plants where possible, and use environmentally friendly methods to keep them growing.
CALL A CAB
Area residents have all the more reason not to get behind the wheel this holiday season after drinking at parties.
Virginia State troopers plan to patrol “extra vigilantly” for drunken drivers, according to a recent press release.
With a plethora of new, stringent drunken driving laws in Virginia this year, sobriety checkpoints and a free cab service available, residents should theoretically see a serious drop in alcohol-related fatalities on the roads.
But it’s up to those residents to make the best choices.
Virginia state police reported 361 fatal crashes and 7,819 injuries in 2003 related to intoxicated drivers.
With Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Saturdays this year, the State Police are especially worried because of anticipated “record volumes of holiday travelers and revelers.”
“Even one drink is too many when it comes to operating a motor vehicle,” said Colonel W. Steve Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent. “The only way to ensure your safety and everyone else’s is to serve as a designated driver, take a taxi or stay put for the night.”
A variety of area taxi companies sponsored by a group of businesses will participate in a program offering free cab rides during the holidays.
Residents age 21 or older can call (800) 200-TAXI, and any ride worth $50 or less will cost nothing. Cingular customers can call #TAXI. The program runs from Dec. 10 to Jan. 1, and applies to the Washington, D.C, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland and most of Northern Virginia.
VDOT LANE CLOSURES
From Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon:
? One lane and the shoulder will be closed on Interstate 495 outer loop going east and one lane and the shoulder will be closed on the inner loop going west, both from the Braddock Road underpass to the Van Dorn Street underpass.
? One lane and the shoulder will be closed in each direction on Interstate 395 from Edsall Road underpass to Franconia-Springfield Parkway.
? On Monday and Tuesday from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. complete intermittent stoppages will occur — 15 minutes each — after midnight at the I-395, inner loop exit ramp, to Interstate 95, south to exit 644 in Springfield.
? On Thursday from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m., multiple lanes will be closed with intermittent stoppages will occur — 15-minutes each — after midnight between Commerce Street Bridge and I-495 east, outer loop.
Police will direct traffic during both night closures, according to VDOT.
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: [email protected] or by phone (703) 878-8062.