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I-66 Outside the Beltway Project: Lane Closures and Traffic Changes – Week of March 15, 2020




Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project construction continues throughout the corridor during daytime and overnight hours as weather conditions allow.

Significant upcoming traffic impacts include:

• Demolition of Bull Run Drive bridge over I-66 East will require I-66 to be narrowed to one lane in each direction on Saturday night, March 14, in western Fairfax County. Both directions of traffic will use I-66 West for about one mile. Details

• Overnight ramp closures at I-66 East to Route 28 North (March 15 and 16); I-66 East to 495 Express Lanes South (March 16-19); Nutley Street South to I-66 East (March 16-19); Route 123 North to I-66 East (March 16 and 21); and the two left-turn lanes from Route 28 South to I-66 East (March 17 and 18). Details

• Bridge pier construction will require overnight closures of three lanes on I-495 South near I-66 on Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17.

Current activities include:

• Bridge demolition at Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286) and Bull Run Drive

• Constructing bridge foundations at Route 29, Route 28, Waples Mill Road, Jermantown Road, Route 123, Vaden Drive, and I-495

• Small charge dynamite operations along Route 28, I-66 East and West near Route 28, and I-66 West near Route 234 Business (Sudley Road)

• Bridge deck work for new collector-distributor road over Route 234 Business, expanded bridge over Compton Road, new Route 28 bridges over I-66, and new Poplar Tree Road bridge over Route 28

• Relocating water lines at Jermantown Road, Stringfellow Road, and Gallows Road

• Constructing new utility duct bank and relocating underground utilities along I-66 East

• Constructing retaining walls along I-66 and Route 28

• Corridor-wide roadway maintenance as needed

The Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project will add express lanes stretching 22.5 miles from the Capital Beltway to Route 29 in Gainesville, rebuild major interchanges along the I-66 corridor, create thousands of new park and ride spaces, and expand trail options for cyclists and pedestrians. Learn more at


Upcoming Lane Closures and Traffic Changes
The following planned lane closures are expected to have significant traffic impacts. All work is subject to change based on weather and schedule. Find the latest information on travel conditions and work zones by visiting or downloading the Virginia511 app.

No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

I-66 West near Bull Run
Monday, March 16, through Thursday, March 19: 11 a.m. to noon
Temporary 15-minute stoppages of traffic on I-66 West for blasting operations.

I-66 East between Compton Road and Route 29 Centreville
Monday, March 16, through Thursday, March 19: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Three lanes will be closed for crews to implement lane shifts.

I-66 East and West between Route 29 Centreville and Stringfellow Road
Route 28 North and South between Route 29 and Braddock Road
Braddock Road at Route 28
Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20: 11 a.m. to noon
Temporary 15-minute stoppages of traffic on I-66 East and West, Route 28 North and South, and on Braddock Road near Route 28 for blasting operations.

Route 28 North between Route 29 and I-66
The ramp from I-66 East to Route 28 North
Sunday, March 15, and Monday, March 16: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Two right lanes of northbound Route 28 will be closed for overhead bridgework. The ramp from I-66 East to Route 28 North will also be closed between midnight and 4 a.m. Drivers will be detoured farther east to Route 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) North, stay to the right for I-66 West, then follow signs to Route 28 North.

I-66 East between Compton Road and Route 29 Centreville
Monday, March 16, through Thursday, March 19: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Three lanes will be closed for crews to implement lane shifts.

Route 28 North and South between Route 29 and Braddock Road
Left-turn lanes from Route 28 South to I-66 East
Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Two left lanes of Route 28 North and South will be closed for overhead bridgework. The left-turn lanes from Route 28 South to I-66 East will also be closed between midnight and 4 a.m. Drivers will be detoured farther south to Route 29 North, stay to the right for Route 28 North, then follow signs to I-66 East.

Route 28 South between Westfields Boulevard and E.C. Lawrence Park athletic fields
Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Two left lanes will be closed for overhead bridgework.

Route 28 South between Braddock Road and Route 29
Thursday, March 19: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Friday, March 20: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Two right lanes will be closed for overhead bridgework.

Stringfellow Road between Fair Lakes Boulevard and Village Square Drive
Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20: 9 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Friday, March 20, from 9 p.m. until 3 p.m. Monday, March 23
The right lane of southbound Stringfellow Road will be closed for underground utility relocation. The lane will be reopened weekdays between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. to accommodate the evening rush.

Route 286 North and South from Route 29 to Fair Lakes Parkway
Monday, March 16, through Thursday, March 19: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Friday, March 20: 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Two lanes will be closed for demolition of the I-66 bridges over Route 286. Drivers should expect occasional 20-minute stoppages.

No significant traffic impacts scheduled.

The ramp from Route 123 North to I-66 East
Monday, March 16, and Saturday, March 21: Midnight to 4 a.m.
The ramp from northbound Route 123 to eastbound I-66 will be closed. Drivers will be detoured farther north on Route 123 and directed to I-66 West, take Route 50 East, then stay to the left and follow signs to I-66 East.

I-66 West from Blake Lane to Jermantown Road
Sunday, March 15: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Three left lanes will be closed.

The ramp from Route 243 (Nutley Street) South to I-66 East
Sunday, March 15, through Thursday, March 19: Midnight to 4 a.m.
The ramp from southbound Nutley Street to eastbound I-66 will be closed. Drivers will be detoured farther south, make a U-turn at Route 29, then stay to the right and follow signs to I-66 East.

The ramp from I-66 East to 495 Express Lanes South
Monday, March 16, through Thursday, March 19: 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The ramp from eastbound I-66 to the southbound 495 Express Lanes will be closed. Drivers will be directed to the I-495 South general-purpose lanes.

I-495 South from Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) to Route 29
Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17: 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Three left lanes will be closed for bridgework. Drivers should expect occasional 20-minute stoppages.

Commuter Alternatives
VDOT and the project team have invested in a broad range of programs to help commuters and others stay mobile and safe during construction. Learn more about carpool, vanpool, telework, and commuter bus alternatives.

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Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – April 8, 2020



Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response. Here is the latest update:


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Town Talk: A conversation with Mayor Eugene Tewalt



Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to

In this Town Talk, we’ll have a conversation with Mayor Eugene Tewalt. Town of Front Royal Mayor Eugene Tewalt stopped by Royal Examiner’s studio and provided us with an update report on the emergency response process underway and a projected budget shortfall that will be discussed at the next Town Council work session On Thursday, April 9th.


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Shenandoah National Park will temporarily close




The National Park Service (NPS) received a letter from the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District of the Virginia Department of Health recommending the full closure of Shenandoah National Park. Upon receiving this request from the health department, Superintendent Jennifer Flynn, with the support of the NPS Deputy Director, Operations, David Vela and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, made the decision to immediately close the park until further notice.

Virginia State Highways 211 and 33 will remain accessible to pass-through.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The NPS is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. The park will notify the public when it resumes full operations and provides updates on the park website and social media channels.

The NPS encourages people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Shenandoah National Park, including:

• Visit our website for interactives, photo galleries, videos, and webcams:

• Subscribe to our YouTube channel:

• Join us on social media where we will host new content in the coming weeks:,, and

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on Please visit for updates about park concessioner, Delaware North’s operations.

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Governor Northam announces plans to postpone upcoming Virginia elections in response to COVID-19



~ Governor delays June primary by two weeks asks General Assembly to move May elections to November ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today (April 8, 2020) requested the General Assembly move the May General Election and all special elections scheduled for May 5, 2020, to the November 3, 2020, General Election date to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Governor is also exercising his statutory authority (§ 24.2-603.1 of the Code of Virginia) to move the June primary elections from June 9, 2020, to June 23, 2020.

“As other states have shown, conducting an election in the middle of this global pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges and the potential risk to voters and those who work at polling places across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Making these decisions now will help election officials prepare and implement the necessary changes. This is about protecting the health and safety of Virginians during this pandemic and ensuring our citizens can make their voices heard in a safe, fair, and uniform manner. I urge the General Assembly to do their part and take action to move our upcoming elections.”

“Free and fair elections are at the core of our democracy and no Virginian should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote, said Attorney General Herring. “I’m proud to have worked closely with Governor Northam and his team on a solution that protects both public health and the integrity of our elections.”

Moving the upcoming May elections requires action by the General Assembly. The plan the Governor is proposing includes the following measures:

• There will be one ballot in November.

• Voters who are qualified in November will be able to vote in November. An individual who was not qualified in May but is qualified in November will be able to vote.

• All absentee ballots already cast will be discarded. Virginians will have an opportunity to vote for local elected officials in November.

• Those officials whose terms are to expire as of June 30, 2020, will continue in office until their successors have been elected on November 3, 2020, and have been qualified to serve.

For additional resources and information about Virginia’s COVID-19 response, please visit

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Update: When virtual becomes vital



Randolph-Macon Academy teachers and students have truly embodied the boarding school’s tagline, “The Power of Rise,” throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic. The R-MA administration had been carefully monitoring the situation since the coronavirus had arrived in the U.S., and the faculty had begun preparing for closing the physical campus and moving to online classes. However, the rapid change to the situation in early March caused school officials to make that decision slightly earlier than anticipated, and on March 12th they announced that Friday, March 13th, would be the final day of classes on campus. The teachers were given two workdays, March 16th, and 17th, to finish completing their lesson plans for online classes, and on Wednesday, March 18th, virtual classes began.

The transition was nearly seamless. R-MA’s decision to invest in 1:1 technology two years ago now provided the necessary tools. The teachers continued on as if they had not just been issued a challenge that has changed the way they conduct their day-to-day classes, and in some cases (such as PE) has caused them to rewrite entire lesson plans. The students continued with a full class day schedule; while teachers might “release” them early to work on assignments, the regular class day has continued, complete with tutorial sessions, which kept the instructional burden on the teachers, rather than placing it on the parents.

“I believe that having a consistent daily structure and online instruction has created some normalcy for both the students and myself,” commented World History teacher Andrew Harriman ‘82. “On the first day of classes, the students were all genuinely happy to see each other. In a world of social distancing at this moment this level of connectivity has been extremely beneficial for them; and I have enjoyed being able to stay connected as well and continue to do what I love; teaching students.”

Peter Babineau of Front Royal, a sophomore at Randolph-Macon Academy, takes advantage of his home computer set-up during his online classes. (Photo by Helen Babineau.)

Helen Babineau of Front Royal, who has a sophomore and a senior at the Academy, commended the R-MA leadership for the speed of their response to the situation and for the program put in place. “As a parent of a senior and a sophomore, I have witnessed numerous classes functioning in “online” mode,” she said. “To any naysayers or doubters, I can testify that my kids are continuing to learn and be challenged at home. If anything they look forward to their classes more than ever, because this is their only time connecting with others outside our family.”

Middle School Principal Tony Ballard also shared some comments that he had received from parents about the online learning experience. “We love that there is still structure in the day, students are still held accountable for reporting to class and getting their work done. It’s not one assignment at the beginning of the week and submit at the end of the week. The teachers are there every day and it’s monitoring progress,” wrote one parent.

“I have overheard a couple of different class discussions and it’s great that the teachers are still providing a high level of instruction while having to deal with these circumstances,” another parent said in an email.

The teachers have certainly risen to the occasion, keeping in mind that “screen fatigue” can be an issue (yes, even to teenagers!) and that projects and engagement are key. Discussions are particularly important to help the students stay connected in this time of social distancing.

German teacher Steve Latham commented, “With 1:1 computers, it’s just like being in the classroom with a few modifications. I teach my students to become independent learners, which means we can work as a class and then I can have them watch the German news in 100 seconds, then come back and discuss it. Much of what we’re doing looks like what my son is doing with college classes.”

Randolph-Macon Academy’s move to a 1:1 computer program two years ago helped to make the transition to online classes a successful one. In this photo, a student is beginning a physics lesson.

R-MA Assistant Athletic Director Brandy Hudson had completed her student teaching internship as physical education (PE) teacher at a school with no gym and logically thought that if she had been successful in that venue, she could rise to any challenge. Now, she is a PE teacher with no gym and no students in her physical presence, but she is making it work. “We all meet as a class, discuss a health- or activity-related topic, depending on the course,” she said. “My students are required to send me their workouts through a fitness app that has a date, time and location stamp along with their stats (distance, pace, steps,…). It has worked very well and it really gives the responsibility to the students to complete these active workouts.”

Other teachers have found success in continuing with a modified version of their typical lesson plans. “Right now all of my classes are reading short paperback books in Spanish, with stories about teens having adventures,” explained Julianne Cochran. “The distance learning experience has been very different for students! They are lounging in their homes, very comfortably situated in comfy clothes, with snacks and beverages, and I am reading the books to them as they read along silently with their copy of the book. It feels reminiscent of storytime when they were little, and their mom or teacher would read to them while they relaxed and just listened. They ask any questions they have at the end of the reading so as not to interrupt the progress of the story and their understanding of it. It is a pretty cool situation so far.”

The students, knowing that this virus might take the rest of the school year from them, had at first been devastated when they were told the campus was closing, but now they have come together in the virtual world in which they grew up, offering each other support and encouragement. The R-MA drill team produced a video designed to encourage drill team members around the globe, and 26 students gathered virtually for the first online Wednesday night Bible study, “The Beacon.”

“Meeting everyone and sharing what we all have to people that care really makes us feel a little comfort,” JJ Banek-Gabelle said about the Bible study. ”Since everyone is going through the same thing, it is nice that we all can relate to each other about what is going on.”

As the news broke on March 23rd that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was ordering all school campuses to remain closed for the rest of the academic year, the teachers and administration began discussing how to improve the online learning experience for the students. Meanwhile, R-MA President Brig Gen David C. Wesley issued a memo to the R-MA families. “In spite of recent events,” he wrote, “We remain committed to completing the school year in the most effective way possible. An academic year is not actually a pre-set number of hours in the classroom or a number of days the school is in session. In very real ways, it is a measure of the learning each student obtains toward the ultimate goal. For R-MA students, that goal has long been the completion of a college degree and success in the life beyond. That goal has not changed in this most unusual of years. We intend to press forward as we have for the past week, offering our students a full schedule of classes online, delivering Mentoring and Chapel and physical training for our students, so they can continue to grow.”

Wesley also addressed the seniors with a promise: “I pledge to you that, to the degree physically possible, we will deliver to you the best graduation ceremony R-MA has ever put on…just as soon as we can!”

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Workers urge Northam to sign minimum wage bill



RICHMOND, Va. — Workers and advocates are urging Gov. Ralph Northam to sign a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 at the start of next year. The General Assembly will reconvene on April 22, and lawmakers will reevaluate recently passed legislation as the state’s economy takes a blow and unemployment climbs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Northam and state leaders anticipate the state’s economy will suffer a major hit from the coronavirus outbreak. Northam didn’t respond directly to whether he is considering delaying the increase in the minimum wage when asked at a recent press conference.

“There are a number of pieces of legislation that we are looking at regarding our business environment, and I haven’t made any definite decisions, but we are talking to the patrons of those pieces of legislation,” Northam said. The governor said he will “make a decision in the best interest of Virginia and the best interest of our economy.”

Workers on the front lines of essential businesses continue to serve the public during the COVID-19 outbreak, including many workers who earn minimum wage–currently $7.25 in Virginia.
Employees at a Virginia Kroger grocery store and Amazon distribution center recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Many essential workers have asked for an increase in pay to reflect the increased need for their services and the elevated risks they take while working.

Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia, an advocacy organization, said that raising the minimum wage is necessary to allow these workers to raise their families with dignity.

“That’s especially true now when grocery store workers, delivery drivers, home health aides and so many more are going to work for low wages and putting themselves at risk of getting sick so that we can stay home and healthy,” Scholl said in a press release.

The group is asking Northam to sign House Bill 395 into law without amendments or delays that would water down the bill. HB 395 would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 in 2021, $11 in 2022 and $12 in 2023. The minimum wage could go up to $15 by 2026 if approved by the General Assembly.

Photo by VCU Capital News Service

Some essential workers also argue that they are not being provided adequate protective gear and supplies to keep them safe from the coronavirus, another reason they are pushing for a guaranteed wage increase.

Lisa Harris works at Kroger in Mechanicsville and is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. She has been with Kroger for 13 years and said in a press conference organized by Progress Virginia that she would benefit directly from HB 395. She is urging Northam to sign the bill with no weakening amendments.

“I find it fascinating how fast grocery store workers like me have gone from being considered unskilled labor to being recognized as essential personnel,” Harris said.

She compared workers dealing directly with an increasingly infected public to being on the front lines like first responders and said: “it would be nice to be paid accordingly.”

Harris said Kroger is not observing the proper social distancing recommendation of 6 feet or providing workers with personal protective equipment. She said the staff is required to wipe down the self-checkout scanners and screens every half hour but argues that this is impossible with the influx of customers visiting the store. Harris said the staff is given Windex to clean equipment and not a proper disinfectant. The company has given full-time workers a $300 bonus and part-time workers a $150 pay boost, but that’s not enough money, Harris said.

“It means barely being able to support myself, it means making tough decisions about whether to pay a bill or skip a meal, it means calling on my family members to help me as I’m attempting to be a fully enfranchised 31-year old,” Harris said.

Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger, said the grocery chain provided all hourly workers with a $2 pay increase for hours worked March 29 through April 18. McGee also stated that all Kroger stores in the Richmond area have been provided with Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectants to wipe down counters and cash registers. She said employees are required to wipe down surfaces frequently and extra hand sanitizer bottles have been provided at each checkout station.

“As far as PPE, we are encouraging our associates to wear protective masks and gloves, and we’re working hard to secure these resources for our associates,” McGee stated in an email. “Supply has started to arrive for our associates, and we anticipate all locations having personal protective equipment within the next several weeks.”

Kroger said on its website that they want healthcare workers to get a hold of protective gear before they can properly distribute it to their workers. For now, employees have limited access to such PPE and are encouraged to use their own.

Beginning April 7, Kroger will also start to limit the number of customers to 50% of the building code’s calculated capacity to allow for proper physical distancing in stores, the company announced this week.

Michael Cassidy, executive director of The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, said that the coronavirus is a reminder many essential workers are also minimum wage workers.

“These individuals are providing a vital service to us right now and they deserve more than $7.25 an hour,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy said if the minimum wage increase were to go into effect in January, it would help 46,000 healthcare workers, 100,00 retail workers and over 100,000 restaurant and service industry workers. He said this would allow people to buy more and contribute to businesses and the economy as a whole.

Photo by VCU Capital News Service

“That’s important because consumer spending is the foundation of our economy, it’s about 72% of Virginia’s gross domestic product,” Cassidy said.

Del. Danica Roem said in a tweet that she is extremely disappointed to see groups advocating for bills like HB 395 to be watered down or delayed.

“We’re $1.50/hr behind West Virginia right now,” Roem tweeted. “You don’t see an uprising of West Virginian business leaders demanding the government lower their minimum wage to match ours.”

Cassidy said history shows that increasing the minimum wage during a recession has been successful in bringing the economy back.

HB 395 is currently pending signature by Northam with a deadline of April 11.

By Ada Romano
Capital News Service

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