Monday, January 13, 2020

Weekly Column: First Week Brings New Majority and New Priorities

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of January 10, 2020.
On Wednesday, January 8, I was sworn in for my second term as the State Senator for the 36th District for the next four years.  This this session will be my eleventh Regular Session and it is proving to be an exciting time to be in the General Assembly of Virginia.

This marks the first time that the Democratic Caucuses have held a majority of seats along with a Democratic Governor since I was in law school twenty-six years ago.  We are poised to make significant policy changes in Virginia that will provide long-term benefits to the Commonwealth.

The Senate Democratic Caucus chose me to serve under the Majority Leader and Caucus Chairman as the Vice Chairman of the Caucus.  I am excited and honored to serve in this new role - especially as we assume the majority.  

Monday, December 2, 2019

Weekly Column: Getting Bills Ready for the 2020 State Legislature

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of December 2, 2019.
Getting Bills Ready for the 2020 State Legislature

The 2020 Virginia General Assembly will convene in about a month and legislators are now preparing bills to propose.   Many constituents and advocacy groups are proposing legislation.

Two weeks ago, I reported on some of the bigger issues we are likely to tackle.  In this column, I am covering a few of the bills that I will introduce.  I will discuss more in future columns.

In the 2018 and 2019 sessions, we came very close to passing legislation prohibiting drivers from having a phone in their hand in a moving vehicle.  In the last session, we approved legislation to prohibit this in construction zones, but the Speaker killed it by ruling Governor Ralph Northam’s attempt to widen it to all highways not germane.  It will pass this session. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Weekly Column: 2020 Virginia Legislature to Consider Many Reforms

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of November 17, 2019.
2020 Virginia Legislature to Consider Many Reforms

          Election Day, November 5, 2019, brought a political earthquake to Virginia.  The Governor’s office, House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia will be controlled by Democrats for the first time since 1991.  Virginians voted for change and we are likely to see significant changes in Virginia policy after nearly 30 years of delayed and avoided actions.  The 2020 Session is a welcomed opportunity to bring Virginia up to speed with the rest of the country.  Your state legislators are now preparing for the 2020 General Assembly session which will begin on January 8 and end in March.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Get Up to Speed on 395 Express Lanes Opening!

On November 17th, 2019, the I-395 Express Lanes will open to E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex holders. This will allow single-occupancy vehicles to use the high-occupancy vehicles lane at all hours. The 395 Express Lanes project has been underway since August 2017, and with its completion, Northern Virginia commuters will notice the improvement of traffic flow and safety on our interstate.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Montclair Traffic Calming Feedback Needed!

Montclair Community in Dumfries, VA
Earlier this week, Prince William County Department of Transportation proposed three alternatives for changes to the Waterway-Silvan Glen intersection in Montclair. Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and I are bringing these options to the community to invite your feedback. Please review the information from PWCDOT below and complete the form HERE or at the bottom of this blog post so you can make your voice heard!

Waterway suffers from increased traffic volumes and speeding due to electronic way-finding services such as Google Maps and Waze. When traffic backs up on Minnieville and Dumfries Road, it spills into neighborhood streets like Cardinal Drive and Waterway. While I have introduced legislation to allow localities to designate certain streets to be excluded from electronic routing registries, they have not passed committee. The map below shows data gathered by VDOT regarding average traffic volumes and speeds.

Increased speed and volume have become a major concern at Waterway and Silvan Glen because of children entering and leaving Henderson Elementary School. Many parents whose children live close enough to walk are concerned for their children's safety when crossing Waterway to get to school.

PWCDOT has proposed the proposals on the left. County staff are now reviewing these proposals with school and police staff, finalizing the analysis, and will make a recommendation to VDOT after everything is completed.  The proposal will also be presented to the Montclair Homeowners Association for feedback and endorsement. 

The first proposal does away with the southern cross walk and creates an area for respite on the median in the middle of Waterway. It would also add a streetlight on the northeast corner.

The second proposal would retain the southern crosswalk but also move the northern crosswalk up on to the median and add a streetlight to improve visibility.

We need feedback from Montclair residents to forward to VDOT regarding the proposal.  Every comment completed on the form below will be forwarded to VDOT.

Ultimately, speeding poses the greatest risk to safety.  Pole mounted speed indicators have proven effective at lowering speeds on neighborhood roads. As shown on the right, Prince William County is also proposing to add one to the north of this intersection.

Please provide your feedback below.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Weekly Column: Assault Weapons and Farmer's Markets Don't Mix

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of September 8, 2019.
Every Saturday morning, my father and 12 year-old son go to the Alexandria Farmer’s Market.  My son gets cookies.  My dad gets ham biscuits.  Two weeks ago, they brought me some homemade salsa.  This weekend, they got something else.
Four men in a group called “The Right to Bear Arms” showed up at the Alexandria City Farmer’s Market carrying AR-15 assault rifles outfitted with scopes and bipods for sniping.  According to a video one of the group members, they staged this action to “educate people” about gun rights and “exercising our constitutional rights without fear to do so.”  The video is also filled with the usual references to freedom and the government taking away rights if you do not use them.  He also indicated they intended to do these kind of “monthly walks.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian is currently battering the Bahamas and is expected to turn north along the Atlantic Coast. The Governor declared a state of emergency for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. Now is the time to prepare for this storm. Our region could experience high winds and heavy rain which may cause flooding and power outages. I have outlined a few resources below. You may call my office throughout the storm for assistance at 571-249-4484.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

VDOT Collecting Comments For I-95 Improvements

Legislation I supported and secured amendments to during the 2019 General Assembly directed CTB to initiate a data-driven study to develop the I-95 Corridor Plan to identify key problem areas, identify potential solutions and areas for additional review and study including investments in transit.  Here is the bill:

In just the last four years, we have:
  • Invested $80 million in Virginia Railway Express
  • Enacted a floor on the local gas tax that provides ongoing funding to Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford transit
  • Funded the widening of the I-95 southbound Occoquan bottleneck
  • Enacted $39.2 million dedicated to I-95 improvements
  • Negotiated the extension of the HOT lanes to Fredericksburg and secured $277 million of funding for additional projects in the I-95 Corridor.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Comment on New HOA/Condo Guidance!

Picture of River Towers After Collapse
The well-publicized partial collapse of River Towers Condominium in Belleview brought to my attention the lack of attention to property maintenance and inadequate capital reserve funds in homeowners associations. 

Last year, the General Assembly passed one bill requiring homeowners associations and condo associations to publish their budgets to their members and provide more transparency about the status of reserve funds.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Weekly Column: 400 Years of Democracy and Its Scars

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of July 20, 2019.
400 Years of Democracy and Its Scars
On July 30, 1619, 22 men met in Jamestown for what eventually would become the longest, continuing, democratically-elected legislative body in the western hemisphere.  They were originally called burgesses and their meeting was an experiment in representative democracy that changed the world.  This week, the nation importantly celebrates the 400th anniversary of that historic gathering. 
First House of Burgesses' Meeting - July 30, 1619 by Sidney King
While the experiment of democracy in the New World ultimately led to some incredible results, Virginia’s democracy was far from perfect.  Some of the most egregious scars were Virginia’s laws that codified, encouraged, tolerated and forced enslavement on African people, forcibly first brought to Point Comfort in today’s Hampton a few weeks after the House of Burgesses’ first meeting.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Senator Surovell's Official Comment on G.W. Parkway Safety

Stone Bridge on G.W. Parkway carrying Alexandria Avenue
The letter below was my initial public comments on improving traffic safety on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  I will provide supplemental comments on completion of my constituent survey - 450 comments and counting!

You can complete my survey by using this link!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Provide Public Comment on The G.W. Parkway Safety Study!

Stone Bridge on G.W. Parkway at Alexandria Avenue
All who live in Mt. Vernon understand how unsafe conditions have become on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Violent collisions occur on a regular basis. Cyclists and pedestrians risk their lives to get on the bike trail or catch the 11-Y bus.  Many collisions are even fatal.  You can read more about my thoughts about why this is happening here:

Thanks to Congressman Don Beyer, the National Park Service is now taking official public comments on safety solutions for the George Washington Memorial Parkway from July 11 to August, 21, 2019.

I have designed a survey that also includes areas for open ended comments to collect feedback from the Mt. Vernon Community.  At the conclusion of the comment period, I will aggregate all of the comments and provide them to the National Park Service to ensure that your voice is heard.

You can find information regarding the study on the NPS official website here:

Please complete my survey and provide your comments below!