Earlier this year, I congratulated Mount Vernon High School senior,Kurron Ramsey, on receiving a scholarship to Alabama State University to play football.
As an update, Kurron is excelling in school, playing on the football team, and giving back to the community. Here is Kurron, along with another teammate, reading to students at a local elementary school in Montgomery, Alabama.
Keep up the good work Kurron!
My son, Ben, and some of his 3rd grade classmates from Sangster Elementary take a visit to Mount Vernon
I would like to inform you of the National Capital Lyme Disease Association’s Lyme Disease Awareness Forum, which will be taking place at Fairfax High School on Tuesday, October 21st from 7-9 PM. The event is completely free to all who wish to attend. Click the link to see the forum flyer.
Today, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the 95 Express Lanes announced that part of the lanes will open as early as December. The stretch is the 29 miles of HOT lanes on I-95 spanning from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to the Edsall Road area on I-395.
This is a great opportunity for drivers to learn about the Express Lanes and purchase an EZPass so they can utilize these lanes when they open in the next few months.
When the 95 Express Lanes open, all drivers will need an E-ZPass or an E-ZPass® FlexSM to travel on the lanes. Carpools with three or more people can travel toll-free on the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode. Other drivers may pay a toll for a faster, more predictable trip.
Before the lanes open, you should:
Get an E-ZPass
- Drivers can get an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex online at www.ezpassva.com, by calling Virginia E-ZPass at (877) 762-7824 or at an E-ZPass customer service center
- Drivers can also visit one of the 75 convenient Northern Virginia retail locations to pick up an E-ZPass – including the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Wegmans and select Giant Food stores. For a full list of retail locations please visit: www.ezpassva.com/EZPages/Retail-Locations.aspx
- To learn more about E-ZPass options for the Express Lanes, please visit: www.95expresslanes.com/using-ezpass
- Virginia E-ZPass customers who plan to carpool on the 95 Express Lanes can exchange their standard E-ZPass for an E-ZPass Flex through the following options:
- Visit www.ezpassva.com and look for “Switch to E-ZPass Flex” on the homepage. Virginia E-ZPass will mail you an E-ZPass Flex and provide you an envelope to mail back your standard E-ZPass
- Call the Customer Service Center – (877) 762-7824 – a Flex transponder can be sent to you. Virginia E-ZPass will mail you an E-ZPass Flex and you can use the enclosed envelope to mail back your standard E-ZPass. Or you can drop it off at one of the E-ZPass Customer Service Centers
- Visit one of the E-ZPass Customer Service Centers. Visit www.ezpassva.com to find the Customer Service Center near you
- For more information on exchanging your existing E-ZPass for an E-ZPass Flex, please visit: www.ezpassva.com/EZPages/Get-Flex.aspx
Plan Their Trip
- Prepare for new routes: The 95 Express Lanes will bring more direct routes to popular destinations including Fort Belvoir and Potomac Mills. Like today’s I-95 HOV lanes, the 95 Express Lanes will be reversible, with the reversal schedule largely following the same process and timing as today. No matter when you travel, remember to pay close attention to on-road signage and gates. Reversal schedule information is available on the 95 Express Lanes website: www.95ExpressLanes.com/using
- Learn how to safely use the lanes: The 95 Express Lanes will be easy to use and get drivers where they need to go. However, there are some new aspects of the road that are worth learning about – including the transition area just north of Edsall Road on I-395. To learn how to safely use the lanes, drivers should visit www.95ExpressLanes.com/staying-safe
- Get answers to questions: For more information on tolling and operations, drivers should visit the 95 Express Lanes FAQs web page – www.95ExpressLanes.com/faqs
- The 95 Express Lanes rules of the road will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dynamic pricing based on real-time traffic conditions manages the demand for the lanes, keeping the Express Lanes moving.
Yesterday, we spoke with VDOT regarding the repaving project on Old Keene Mill Road. The operations along OKM on Sept. 16th. Currently, the eastbound and westbound directions of the OKM/connector road Frontier Drive up to the eastern project limits has been milled and I understand that the westbound paving began earlier this week. Frontier Drive milling operations started this week and will be paved soon. This area is to be finished first with the opening of Springfield Mall next week (Oct 17).
The goal is to complete OKM at least up to Rolling Road by the end of the year. VDOT is actively engaging with their contractor to support them getting as much done as possible. They’ve also requested additional crews and are working with them to hopefully work on Columbus Day to support these efforts.
We are aware that this is a high priority for all Springfield residents and we will try our best to keep you in the loop as we hear more from VDOT.
Virginia’s 8th Energy Star and WaterSense Sales Tax Holiday is happening this weekend, Friday, October 10 through Monday, October 13, 2014.
If you need to replace any of your old household appliances, this upcoming weekend is a great opportunity to save money now and in the future. You save 6%, up to a total of $150!
During this period, certain Energy Star and WaterSense qualified products can be purchased exempt from sales tax. There are a few restrictions, such as the items must be for non-commercial use and costing $2,500 or less. Some qualifying products include dishwashers, refrigerators, toilets, showerheads, air conditioners, and ceiling fans.
I hope that you will take advantage of this great yearly event! The Virginia Department of Taxation has an informative webpage about the holiday. Should you have any questions, you can visit the page by clicking here.
What is the purpose of House Bill 2?
Governor McAuliffe signed House Bill 2 (HB2) into law in 2014, which directs the CTB to develop and use a prioritization process to select the right transportation projects. The process will score projects based on an objective and fair analysis that is applied statewide. This process will help the CTB to select projects that provide the maximum benefits for tax dollars spent.
How does the prioritization process work?
As required by law under HB2, the CTB will develop the prioritization process using an open and transparent process. Once the projects are scored through the prioritization process, the CTB will then have the information it needs to make the best decisions on which projects to fund.
What types of projects are included?
Projects that meet a capacity need identified in VTrans 2040 will be prioritized, including projects that support:
- Corridors of Statewide Significance (i.e. interstates and major highways)
- Regional networks (i.e. focus on multi-modal networks that facilitate intra-regional travel within urban areas)
- Improvements to promote urban development areas (i.e. areas designated by local governments as prime areas for economic growth)
- The CTB must consider highway, transit, rail, road, operational improvements and transportation demand management projects.
What at type of funding is included in prioritization?
Funds that must be prioritized include state and federal highway funds.
HB2 applies to funding allocations under the optional CTB formula for high priority projects, Public-Private Partnerships and Smart Roadway projects. In addition, statewide discretionary federal funds are eligible for HB2 prioritization (i.e. NHPP and STP).
What types of project are not included?
The law excludes asset management projects, such as deficient pavement and bridge rehabilitation projects, and projects funded by certain funding sources (including Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, Highway Safety Improvement Program, Transportation Alternatives Program, Revenue Sharing program, and secondary/urban formula funds).
The prioritization process will not apply to projects funded through Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads regional revenues; however, projects funded by other sources in these areas may still need to be included in the process.
At the discretion of the CTB, projects fully funded in the Six-Year Improvement Program that have completed environmental review may be exempt from the law’s provisions.
How will projects be scored?
The CTB is developing the process based on an objective, quantifiable analysis that considers the following factors relative to the cost of the project:
- Congestion mitigation
- Economic development
- Environmental quality
- Land use and transportation coordination
- Projects that reduce congestion would rise to the top in traffic-clogged regions in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. For rural and other regions, transportation priorities may be based more on stimulating the economy and job growth.
How is the prioritization process being developed?
The CTB will solicit input from localities, metropolitan planning organizations, transit authorities, transportation authorities, and other stakeholders in the development of the project prioritization process.
For each prioritization factor, multiple measures will be applied.
The CTB may choose to assign different weights to the factors within each highway construction district, based on the unique needs and qualities of each district.
By code, in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads districts congestion mitigation will be the highest weighted factor.
Prioritization will allow a project to be better compared to others on a statewide basis.
How can the public provide input to the prioritization process?
There will be significant input as the process is developed. A comprehensive outreach program is being developed, which will educate the public about prioritization and provide them with many opportunities to provide input. This will be a transparent process that will engage stakeholders. Outreach efforts include:
- Prioritization discussions at public meetings, MPO and PDC meetings, association meetings and other public events
- Regional workshops on draft recommendations (held in the winter/spring 2014-2015).
- An HB2 prioritization website will be set up to facilitate sharing of information and public input
When will the process be implemented?
The law requires the CTB to select projects for funding based on the prioritization process beginning July 1, 2016. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation are working diligently to transition to the new prioritization process early.
What is being done now to prepare for prioritization?
In preparation to implement the prioritization process, $416 million has been removed from more than 60 projects in the FY 2015-2020 Six-Year Improvement Program. They will be scored through the prioritization process because they meet the criteria as described by law under HB 2. The projects are not fully funded and have not completed the NEPA process. Enough funding has been left on these projects to take them to the next milestone in the project development process. The rest of the allocated funding has been set aside for prioritization. The CTB will select projects for funding once they have been scored. The projects remain in the SYIP and could be selected for funding once they are scored.
The ultimate selection of projects is made by the CTB; the prioritization process will provide valuable data for the CTB to consider in making project selections.
The FY 2015-2020 SYIP has been revised to reflect funding that was deallocated from the projects that will be scored. The draft revised program including information on the prioritization process will be shared with the public during fall public meetings that will be held in nine districts September and October. The public is invited to learn about prioritization and to share their ideas and input on transportation needs. Public input will be taken into consideration as the revised program is finalized. The CTB will approve the final revised SYIP during its November meeting.
More information on the fall meetings is online at: http://www.virginiadot.org/2014fallmeetings/
The Secretary of Transportation’s office is leading efforts to develop the prioritization process. This will involve input from localities, MPOs, PDCs, and the public will be.
Secretary Aubrey Layne has established an Executive Workgroup to oversee the implementation of the new prioritization with focus on identifying impacts to the SYIP, measuring outcomes for required factors, coordinating with local governments and regions on weighing factors and developing a process to solicit candidate projects for screening and prioritization.
With news of the first imported case of Ebola in Dallas, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has plans in place if there is a case of imported Ebola identified in Virginia. Below are some key points related to four areas (Protecting Healthcare Workers, Identifying and Monitoring Personal Contacts of the Ill Individual, Communication, and Coordinating the Response).
Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Actions Upon Receiving a Report of a Probable “High Risk” Case and/or Laboratory Confirmation of a Case of Ebola in Virginia
The following actions would occur concurrently and in coordination with the treating clinician(s) and hospital, the local health district, the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to a patient who is a probable “high risk” case and/or who has laboratory confirmation of Ebola virus disease (EVD).
Protecting Healthcare Workers
- Ensure the medical care facility is aware of the diagnosis and that all healthcare workers are following recommended precautions, including use of personal protective equipment for standard, droplet, and contact precautions.
- Recommend, per CDC guidance, that specimen collection be kept to a minimum for the patient a and that laboratory workers and others handling specimens are aware of the potential diagnosis and are following all recommended precautions to prevent work-related exposures to the virus.
Identifying and Monitoring Personal Contacts of the Ill Individual
- Collect as much information about the ill person as possible by asking healthcare workers already in contact with the patient to conduct comprehensive interviews (travel and exposure history, description and history of illness, and dates and types of interactions the person had with anyone since the earlier signs of illness)
- Locate and speak with every person who had the type of contact with the ill person that could potentially lead to blood or body fluid exposures since the onset of the earliest symptom, such as when the fever presented. These contacts may include, but are not limited to, household or other close contacts, emergency medical services providers, health care workers providing care to the patient, and laboratorians.
- Direct contacts to monitor his/her temperature twice each day and record it in a written log and coordinate daily monitoring of contacts by VDH for out-of-hospital contacts and by hospital for healthcare workplace contacts.
- Advise contacts including health care workers, per CDC guidance, that they may perform usual daily activities unless any symptoms of illness develop. An exception is that the contacts will be asked to refrain from taking long trips on public conveyances. (If specific conditions warrant, the Commissioner has the authority to issue an order of quarantine per existing law and regulations.)
- If contact develops symptoms, direct person to stay home and away from others to watch to see if symptoms worsen. Person will be evaluated to determine if symptoms are compatible with EVD. If symptoms are such that medical care is required, health care providers would be notified in advance of any care-seeking so that precautions can be put into place to prevent any further exposures.
- Coordinate information for senior leadership, interagency, and federal and state partners.
- Coordinate public messaging with hospital, local health district, DCLS, CDC, and other agencies (e.g., VDEM). If there is laboratory confirmation of EVD, there will be an initial press conference with, at a minimum, State Health Commissioner, local health director and hospital leadership.
- Provide key risk communication messages to the public:
- Ebola virus is not communicable to others until a person exhibits signs of illness.
- Only persons who have had direct contact with the blood and body fluids of someone ill with EVD are at risk of infection.
- Infection prevention measures used every day in U.S. health care are sufficient to prevent the spread of EVD.
- There is a coordinated public health and health care response that will contain the spread of Ebola in Virginia.
Coordinating the Response
- Activate incident command if there is laboratory confirmation of EVD. At a minimum, the local health district response would operate under incident command with support of VDH’s Emergency Coordination Center and VDH Central Office resources.
The VDH feels confident in its ability and the ability of the entire health care community to respond to this and other public health threats.
The following are links to additional information concerning Ebola:
- Ebola Information for Virginia Healthcare Providers and Facilities
- Ebola Information for the Public
A few days ago, I attended NVTA’s 2014 “What You Need to Know” seminar. While all the presentations were informative, I suggest you take a look at the following two specific presentations, for they relate to northern Virginia.
- Key Regional Highway Projects Status Report - VDOT Northern Virginia District Administrator Helen Cuervo
- Identification of Northern Virginia’s Top Congestion Reduction Investments - VDOT Northern Virginia Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton
- On this PowerPoint, you will find basic project ratings from around the area. You will see at the top of the list, the Rolling Road widening project is rated as a high priority to reduce congestion.
You can see all the information by clicking here. If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office!
16 Chiropractic Doctors and 8 administrative staffers joined together at the Springfield, VA office of Dr. David Dolberg, to ring in Chiropractic Health Week in Virginia. I joined fellow members of the Virginia Legislature, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn and Delegate Tim Hugo, to celebrate! Delegate Hugo was the patron of HR 93, which designates the first week of each October as “Chiropractic Health Week in Virginia.