Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dumfries U.S. 1 on the Verge - Comment by Saturday!

If you ever get down to Dumfries to talk to its residents, one of the first things you learn is like Eastern Fairfax County, the state of U.S. 1 is one issue that binds all of its residents together.  In the next three days, they have an opportunity to do something about it.

Only Three Ways Out of Dumfries
(Click to Enlarge)
Dumfries and its communities to the east along the Potomac River have basically only three ways to get out of town - U.S. 1 North, U.S. 1 South, and two-lane Van Buren Road.  In-fact, U.S. 1 cuts across the creeks for each peninsula into the Potomac River, within a quarter mile of where each creek becomes tidal.  This basically turns each peninsula into a massive cul de sac.

When coupled with the endemic congestion on Interstate 95, the consequences for the Town are tragic.  Each time I-95 becomes gridlocked, interstate traffic bails out onto U.S. 1 causing U.S. 1 to freeze and leaving thousands of residents with no way out.  The gridlock has also stymied the town's ability to attract high quality development to its business areas.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Demanding Investments From NVTA For Our Community

Last night, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority hosted a public hearing to receive public comment before deciding how they will allocate over $1.248 billion over the next six years. I joined Dumfries Mayor-Elect Derrick Wood and Town Councilwoman-Elect Monae Nickerson to advocate for funding four projects on U.S. 1. 

Here are the four projects:
We were joined by the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens and the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation who spoke in support of the projects.  Unfortunately, the Northern Virginia "Transportation" Alliance - a coalition of Tysons and Dulles-Area businesses and developers spoke specifically in opposition to the Route 1 projects even though U.S. 1 BRT ranked #8 for congestion relief on the formula that they drafted and pushed us to enact!  

Eastern Fairfax and Prince William County have waited too long for transportation investments into U.S. 1. Now is the time to fund these crucial projects and I will have little patience if the institutional forces of Northern Virginia continue to demand priority over areas that have lacked infrastructure investment for three decades.

Weekly Column: Comment on U.S. 1’s Future ASAP

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and Springfield Connection in the week of May 15, 2018.
Comment on U.S. 1’s Future ASAP 
If you care about our community’s future, it is critical that you take a few minutes before May 20 to share our support for upgrading the U.S. 1 corridor, a major, but long-overlooked, commercial, residential and recreational thoroughfare in eastern Fairfax County. 
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) is now deciding which projects to fund with $1.2 billion as part of its six-year plan.   
Fairfax County submitted several projects including widening U.S. 1 north from Fort Belvoir to Costco ($127 million) and establishing bus rapid transit from Huntington Metro to Fort Belvoir ($250 million) and made these top county-wide priorities.  NVTA ranked these two projects #23 and #24 out of 60 using the new “Smart Scale” criteria and numbers #2 and #8 out of 60 using the HB599 congestion mitigation criteria established by state law.  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Kingstonian Column: Affordable Housing Must Be Part of U.S. 1’s Remake

The following will appear in the May, 2018 Kingstonian Magazine and Beulah Corridor monthly magazine.

Affordable Housing Must Be Part of U.S. 1’s Remake 

This past month, as part of the “Embark Richmond Highway” process the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors made significant progress building on the U.S. 1 Multimodal Study authorized by Senator Puller and myself in 2011 which envisioned a six-lane U.S. 1 bordered by sidewalks, multiuse paths, a median-dedicated bus rapid transit and two-stop Yellow Line extension.  The zoning changes envisioned by Embark will be truly transformational.  However, U.S. 1’s revitalization is generating legitimate questions about the future of affordable housing for current and future members of our community.  

From the beginning, I have been concerned the impact of revitalization on affordable housing.  The South County Task Force led by Mary Paden recently convened a panel discussion on affordable housing after it was largely omitted from the Embark recommendations.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Route 1 Corridor Improvements Need NVTA Support

During the recent General Assembly session, both the House of Delegates and the Senate agreed to proposals that would fully fund Metro. Unfortunately, the House refused to include revenue increases so their version of the funding agreement takes money out of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA). This could have dire consequences for the 36th District. Route 1 corridor improvement and transit expansion projects are counting on funding from NVTA.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

VIDEO: Demanding that EPA keep coal ash regulations in place

Yesterday, the EPA held a hearing on the Trump Administration's proposal to roll back Obama-era regulations on coal ash. My testimony is below.


One of the four large Chesapeake Bay watershed coal ash deposits is in Dumfries, Virginia in the 36th District. All four sites are leaking toxic heavy metals into groundwater and drinking water in the surrounding communities. I have introduced 10 bills to deal with the coal ash problem in Virginia and met with moderate success. Last year, my bill to require Dominion to study alternatives for dealing with the coal ash resulted in this report:

Coal Combustion Residuals Ash Pond Closure Assessment (November, 2017)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Weekly Column: Affordable Housing Must Be Part of U.S. 1’s Remake

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, and the Potomac and Stafford Locals in the week of April 15, 2018.
Affordable Housing Must Be Part of U.S. 1’s Remake 

U.S. 1’s revitalization, called Embark, is generating some legitimate questions about the future of affordable housing for current and future members of our community.  The first part of the Embark plan envisions building fourteen miles of bus rapid transit and extending the Yellow Line to Hybla Valley.  This is a long-overdue plan that can bring new life, opportunities and jobs to our area.

From the beginning, I have been concerned about Embark Route 1’s impact on affordable housing and have raised concerns in the planning meetings.  The South County Task Force led by Mary Paden recently convened a panel discussion on affordable housing after it was largely omitted from the Embark Route 1 recommendations.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Neabsco Creek Possible Shutdown

Neabsco Creek & Leesylvania State Park
Last month, the United States Coast Guard refused to place navigational buoys in Neabsco Creek after they determined that the creek had silted in to the point that it is not safe.  They went on to put up "Danger Shoaling" signs at the entrance to the creek.  The marinas served by the creek dispute those measurements and believe that the creek is still to navigate.

This will cause numerous problems:
  • There are three marinas with 50 jobs that could be threatened - E.Z. Cruz Marina, Hamptons Landing Marina, and Pilot House Marina.
  • There are 1,000 boats in slips in the three marinas served by the creek.
  • The Prince William County Fire/Police response boat is housed there on a lift.  Moving the boat will cost taxpayers $120,000 for new docking facilities and if no lift is available, it will cost $18,000 per year in bottom paint and a reduction of 4 knots per hour in response time.
  • Lost access to the only 24 hour gas dock in Prince William County
  • Lost access to the boat sewage pumping out facility
  • Lost tax revenues
  • Put massive pressure on Leesylvania State Park which is already overwhelmed with users.
The Army Corps of Engineers last dredged the creek in 1998 but has not conducted further dredging due to budget limitations.  This is also a statewide problem all over the tidal Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Weekly Column: State Regulation Thwarted, Time for Local Action

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, and the Potomac and Stafford Locals in the week of April 2, 2018.
State Regulation Thwarted, Time for Local Action
The March for Life put a spotlight on the country’s and Virginia’s permissive firearms regulation culture.  The young people’s outburst of civic activism and the new efforts of others who have not been very politically active is inspiring. 
Historically, I have proudly supported reasonable, bipartisan measures to allow Sunday hunting, reduce fees and cut paperwork for concealed carry gun holders.  Unfortunately, sensible measures to prevent firearm violence have been at a stalemate in Virginia.  Until there is broader political change in Virginia, we must take some steps at the local level.
Currently, Virginia law allows local governments to ban loaded shotguns and rifles, including semi-automatic rifles like AR-15’s, on public highways.  Nineteen localities, including Alexandria and Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, have adopted this approach.  I can think of no reason anyone needs to carry a loaded AR-15 or a shotgun a Northern Virginia highway.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Weekly Column: Embark Ushers in a New Phase for U.S. 1

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, and the Potomac and Stafford Locals in the week of March 26, 2018.
Embark Ushers in a New Phase for U.S. 1
Last week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the Embark Route 1 comprehensive plan revision, a step that lays the groundwork for development over the next 30-40 years for the seven miles of U.S. 1 between the Huntington Metro Station and Fort Belvoir.  This plan, reflecting several years of community input, has significant implications for both Fairfax and Prince William Counties.
When I was elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, efforts to reach consensus for a Fairfax County, U.S. 1 road design had frozen during work on the U.S. 1 Centerline Study, issued by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in January, 2010 after a 15-year process.  Prince William County was planning a series of U.S. 1 redesigns while Fairfax County’s decision-making had stalled after disputes arose about incorporating transit into redesigns and right-of-way impacts.  Then-Congressman Jim Moran had secured $180 million to expand U.S. 1 to six lanes in Fort Belvoir, but that expansion would create a bottleneck at Jeff Todd Way.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Weekly Column: Successes in the State Legislature

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, and the Potomac and Stafford Locals in the week of March 12, 2018.
Successes in the State Legislature
Last week brought an end to the regular 2018 session of the General Assembly. Once again, I had some significant successes. The legislature sent 13 of my 61 bills to Governor Northam for his signature. Legislators continued 15 to 2019 for studies and referred several to agencies for administrative consideration.

While several of my budget amendments were included in the Senate budget, including the funding the first staff at brand new Widewater State Park in Stafford, we unfortunately adjourned without adopting a biennial budget due to the Senate Republican Caucus’s refusal to include Medicaid expansion into their budget. Budget discussions have completely stalled out and Governor Northam will call us into special session at some point in the next two months.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Spring 2018 Status of U.S. 1 Improvements

This morning, the "U.S. 1 Delegation" consisting of myself, Senator Ebbin, and Delegates Krizek and Sickles met with the project team with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to talk about the status of the U.S. 1 widening and bus rapid transit in anticipation of our next public hearing.

First, Fairfax County's process to implement the state-funded U.S. 1 Multimodal Alternative Analysis Study will come to a conclusion when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote to approve the Comprehensive Plan changes developed as part of the EMBARK Richmond Highway Process on March 20, 2018.  This plan will lay the groundwork for the next thirty years in our community.  You can get more information here:


The County is in the process of developing its application for federal transit funding under the New Starts Program to fund approximately fifty-percent of the cost of bus rapid transit (BRT) from Huntington Metro to Fort Belvoir.
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