Lane Ranger for Monday, July 7, 2003

Dear Lane Ranger: The traffic light at Dumfries Road and Prince William Parkway seems to be reversed. My husband leaves for work anywhere between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning.

I don’t know about the day time hours, but in the middle of the night the light is always green for Dumfries Road, forcing the traffic on the Parkway to have to stop for the red.

Sometimes you have to sit there for 3 or 4 minutes waiting for the light to turn green for the Parkway traffic.

Since he drives a tractor trailer and is heading for 95, this means he has to stop and then shift through all the gears again.

It’s become quite a nuisance. Any help would be appreciated.

— Jennifer Powers, Manassas

Dear Jennifer: Ryan Hall sent the VDOT crews out to look at the light. They found good news and your husband can quit grinding his gears.

“Your reader was correct when she said; ‘the light seemed to be reversed.'” Hall wrote in answer to your e-mail.

“The green light should default to the Prince William Parkway during that time of the day, not Dumfries Road, when no other vehicles are present,” Hall said.

The crews switched the switch and the light is now reversed. Tell you husband to stay strong out there.

Dear Lane Ranger: I frequently travel the I-95 corridor between New York and Washington, and find that my EZ Pass eliminates significant stress from the long cash lines at toll plazas. But, I can’t use the EZ Pass on the Dulles Toll Road or on I-64 when heading to the Outer Banks or other areas around the state.

I’d like to know if Virginia plans on implementing this efficient system, instead of making things more difficult for area residents who travel frequently along the Eastern Seaboard and to other parts of Virginia. It doesn’t work for me to have an EZ Pass and a Smart Tag. What gives? Can I expect some change soon?

— A Lane Ranger Fan

Dear Fan: Once again the Lane Ranger e-mailed Ryan Hall from the Virginia Department of Transportation for an answer to your question.

As it turns out VDOT has been asking the same question.

“VDOT is seriously looking into the EZ Pass System and we a have meetings scheduled with the EZ Pass officials this month,” Hall wrote in response to your query.

“We certainly realize the importance of providing a seamless electronic toll collection system for motorists from other states. Smart Tag and EZ pass run on two separate systems in addition to the technological issues there are cost and policy issues to be considered as well.” Hall said.

Although VDOT does not yet have a total price tag, the cost is believed to be in the millions of dollars based on anticipated equipment needs and system and operational modifications,” Hall said.

“Smart Tag has served Northern Virginia well by moving traffic more efficiently,” Hall wrote.

Dear Lane Ranger: I was reading a response you made to the woman who was concerned about HOV.

Your response to her question about state/government vehicles traveling in the HOV lanes was the following: — Emergency vehicles (fire, ambulance, rescue), law enforcement vehicles, public utility vehicles are permitted when responding to emergency calls.

I sit in traffic on I-95 north at 7:30 in the morning and watch Fairfax County police and government-owned vehicles as well as Federal vehicles that obviously live in the Prince William/Stafford area, go into the HOV lanes and have a nice little cruise up the highway to work on a daily basis.

These people do this every day and every night traveling home. I know this because while I sit in traffic that barely crawls down 95, I have a lot of time on my hands to watch all the “special people” travel home in a reasonable amount of time.

It honestly surprises me that people that work to uphold the law, have no problem breaking the law when it benefits them.

The Va. State Troopers seem to have no problem waving these people by as they pull over a regular person to issue a ticket to.

What are your feelings on the subject?

— Ron Cooper Jr., Dumfries

Dear Ron: The Lane Ranger called State Police Sgt. Everett Currie and asked for clarification about which government vehicles are and are not allowed in the HOV lanes.

Currie said law enforcement vehicles of any kind are always allowed on the HOV lanes at any time.

Public utility vehicles are permitted on the HOV lanes “when responding to an emergency.”

Those driving other government vehicles, Currie said, are subject to the same restrictions as the rest of the common people.

“If we see a government owned , tagged vehicle in the HOV and there’s only one person in the vehicle, and the officer stops him and identifies the driver as an FBI agent and the vehicle is a government vehicle, then he is exempt,” Currie said.

“If he stops a vehicle and the guy works for Housing and Urban Development and doesn’t have any type of law enforcement function, then he would be subject to a fine,” Currie said.

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.