If you followed my 2017 campaign, you may have seen my "Fix Route 28 Now!" yard signs.
If you followed my career as your local news reporter at the Gainesville Times from 2006-2015, you know I often took deep dives into transportation policy.
And if you’ve heard me speak as your delegate, you’ve probably heard me talk about it. Simply put, traffic congestion hurts my constituents’ quality of life and I’m determined to help fix it.
I’m proud of the significant progress we’ve made since 2017. However, the people of the Thirteenth District elected me to fix the problem, not just improve it.
Here's my comprehensive approach we can use to get it done:
Fix Route 28 Now!
During the 2017 campaign, you may have seen my "Fix Route 28 Now!" yard signs and if you ever heard me speak, I’m sure it was one of the first things I mentioned. It’s my #1 issue because I know how it affects my constituents’ lives.
As a lifelong resident of the Manassas part of Prince William County, I covered our transportation issues for over nine years as the lead reporter of the Gainesville and Prince William Times. Prior to my journalism career it was a problem my family dealt with every single workday as my mother commuted up and down Route 28 for 40 years. I’m proud of the significant progress we’ve made since 2017. However, the people of the Thirteenth District elected me to fix the problem, not just improve it. Fixing Route 28 remains my top legislative priority along with alleviating traffic congestion along Interstate 66. Here's my comprehensive approach we can use to get it done:
1) Replace stoplights with alternative intersection designs along Route 28 in Yorkshire and Centreville.
Construction is now underway to remove stoplights and install alternative intersection designs at the I-66/Route 28 interchange. This is the most important section of the corridor to improve and this part of the project is due to wrap up in 2022.
We need to work with Fairfax County officials to find a way to construct the $44.7 million unfunded interchange project at the intersection of New Braddock Road and Route 28. By extending the parking lot of the medical offices along Machen Road to New Braddock Road, we can also replace the Machen Road stoplight with an alternative intersection design to reduce congestion. I've discussed the need for alternative intersection designs along Route 28 at Green Trails Boulevard, Compton Road, Orchard Bridge Drive, Yorkshire Lane, Leland Road, Maplewood Drive and Browns Lane with Secretary Shannon Valentine of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
During my first term in Richmond, I introduced four pieces of legislation to direct the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to study alternative intersection designs along the Route 28 corridor. In 2018, I focused on implementing alternative intersection designs from Manassas Drive to the Fairfax County Line by filing HJ 68. In 2019, I introduced three bills to reduce congestion and improve commutes for constituents of the Thirteenth District along the following sections of Route 28:
HB 2468 (Route 28/Route 15 Interchange in Fauquier to Route 29/Route 28 in Fairfax)
HB 2467 (City of Manassas Park to Route 28/29 Interchange in Fairfax County)
HB 2466 (City of Manassas Park to Fairfax County Line)
I'm continuing my work with VDOT on an administrative solution to fix Route 28 and they now consider fixing Route 28 a priority because of my advocacy. I will keep working across the aisle, building coalitions and fighting for this issue until it is done.
2) Route 28 Widening in Centreville *APPROVED*
In 2018, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority allocated $128 million for even more Route 28 improvements, including the widening in Centreville I campaigned on in 2017. The road is being widened from four lanes (two northbound and two southbound) to six lanes (three northbound and three southbound). I'm pushing for a 6-7-8 hybrid approach that widens Route 28 to six lanes near Compton Road to eight lanes by Route 29.
3) Incorporate multi-modal designs
We need space for commuter bus lanes that do not compete for road space with the lanes you drive to get to work each day in your own vehicle. Not everyone wants to drive or ride the bus though, so we also need bike lanes and sidewalks linking Prince William County to Fairfax County so more people can efficiently move from Manassas, Manassas Park and Yorkshire Centreville and points north and east.
4) Control residential growth in Prince William County
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors has to get serious about not approving residential developments until we have adequate, existing infrastructure in place to support them, not merely plans for what we hope will be there in the future. We need adequate capacity on our roads and in our schools, updated and upgraded water infrastructure and enough first responder stations to not push the limits of response times.
5) Build up our local economy.
We need to recruit high-paying jobs to Innovation Park, fill the office vacancies in the City of Manassas Park and prioritize teleworking so people can work in their home communities. I filed HJ 66 (2018) and HJ 671 (2019) to find a cost-effective way to extend the Virginia Railway Express to Gainesville with a stop at Innovation Park along the way so we can recruit more high-tech, bio-tech, cybersecurity and defense employers to western Prince William County. I always promote businesses and organizations opening offices in Manassas Park in order to send a message that the Manassas Drive corridor is still a great place for business after a decade of empty window fronts. With the commuter parking garage slated to open near City Hall at the Manassas Park VRE station, we will be able to use that amenity to resolve some of the parking issues near City Center and attract more businesses.
Expand Mass Transit
Shortly after I was elected in November 2017, I met with Bob Schneider, Executive Director of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, and discussed the need to expand OmniRide bus service to Gainesville and Haymarket.
In 2018, I fulfilled my 2017 campaign promise to work across the aisle in favor of putting a floor on the Northern Virginia regional motor fuels tax and we got it done with HB 768/SB 896. Because of that vote, I was able to fulfill another campaign promise to expand mass transit in western Prince William County because the revenue from the motor fuels tax allocated $7.86 million more to the PRTC, allowing the PRTC board to launch the first ever OmniRide commuter bus linking Haymarket and northern Gainesville to Arlington on December 17, 2018.
As of now, four buses make six stops each along the westbound side of Heathcote Boulevard corridor and five locations near Metro stations in Arlington. This Sept. 9, two eastbound stops are due to be added at Carterwood and Sheringham.
The more mass transit options we provide for commuters, the more passenger vehicles we can remove each day from Interstate 66. I’ll continue advocating and legislating to make this happen.
Improve Dangerous Intersections
During the last two years, two fatal traffic accidents have shook Gainesville as we’ve mourned those who died at intersections Rollins Ford Road and Estate Manor Drive and Heathcote Boulevard and U.S. 29.
It shouldn’t take a fatality for us to improve road safety. That’s why I worked for months with VDOT to improve the Heathcote/29 intersection, which happened on June 29, 2019 with the additional lane paving for commuters along northbound U.S. 29 turning left onto Heathcote Boulevard.
I also worked for months with VDOT on coming up with alternative intersection designs at three intersections along Rollins Ford Road and held three bipartisan town halls dedicated to gathering feedback from my constituents so VDOT would know what options the people who live in the area prefer. VDOT has since presented us with alternative intersection designs for the area. I’ll continue to listen to what my constituents want for the area and work to secure funding to implement them.
Fully Fund the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority
In 2018, we had the opportunity in the General Assembly to both provide dedicated funding for the Metro and simultaneously preserve enough money with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) to keep funding more fixes for Route 28, such as the 6-7-8 lane hybrid widening in Centreville. Before the Reconvene Session in April, where the General Assembly considers the Governor’s proposed amendments and vetoes, I wrote a letter to the Governor urging him to amend HB 1539 (2018) to keep the NVTA from losing $35.1 million per year to fix our roads and multi-modal projects. Given that HB 1539 called for transferring money from the NVTA to fund Metro, I asked the Governor to offer amendments to safeguard NVTA funding that only applied to the six Metro compact jurisdictions - Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Loudoun, Fairfax County and Fairfax City - not Prince William County, Manassas or Manassas Park. The Governor did exactly that in Recommendation #16 to HB 1539, which the majority caucus killed on a party-line vote of 51-48. As an immediate consequence of that vote that left crucial transportation funding on the table, Fairfax County decided to proceed only with the six-lane widening of Route 28 in Centreville instead of the 6-7-8 lane hybrid widening option that would widen the road to six lanes in the south near Compton Road and eight lanes by Route 29.
However, I would not accept defeat when that transportation funding was lost. I spoke out on floor of the House of Delegates and called for NVTA funding to be restored by inserting a provision in the Interstate 81 bill (HB 2718, 2019) that included bringing back $20 million per year to the NVTA without raising taxes in Northern Virginia. This time, when the funding amendment arrived, I worked hard behind the scenes to whip support and helped deliver 48 Democratic votes for the amendment while 12 of 51 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote along with us. This allowed us to deliver and approve the largest transportation funding bill in six years.
In addition, I will continue to advocate for Del. Vivian Watts’ legislation, HB 2085 (2019), to restore another $30 million of funding for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Combined with the $20 million I helped bring back this year, that will restore $50 million annually -- and that does not even include the money that would come from the localities.
Northern Virginia candidates and politicians routinely talk about bringing back transportation funding from Richmond. In under two years in office, I helped secure $20 million a year for Route 28 improvements and other Northern Virginia regional transportation projects. I'm not afraid to take tough votes, fulfill my campaign promises and deliver the results I've promised for the people of the Thirteenth District.