The Dixie Pig was my grandmother's favorite restaurant on U.S. 1 formerly located across from Beacon Mall where a Rite Aid now stands.

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The Dixie Pig Blog

  • Weekly Column: Successes in the State Legislature

    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.

    This week, my amendment to a delegate’s bill to prohibit operating a moving motor vehicle while drivers have a phone in their hand died after passing the Senate 29-11. Due to fiscal impacts of amendments loaded onto the bill requiring a racial profiling study, opponents were able to push the bill into a conference committee where it died. Car accidents and deaths are on the rise nationally and in Virginia due to distracted driving and this would have saved lives. I will try again next year.

    I am especially proud of successful legislation that I carried with a companion bill by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones providing compensation to four men who were wrongfully convicted of rape after being coerced into false confessions by a corrupt Norfolk detective currently in federal prison. The four former sailors, known as “The Norfolk Four,” spent between eight to 12 years in jail and another eight-plus years out of jail on the Sex Offender Registry. The legislation authorizes the state to compensate them $3.5 million if the City of Norfolk at least matches that amount. Convicting the innocent is bad enough, but it is especially wrongful if it is achieved through intentional law enforcement misconduct.

    The legislature also approved a bill to provide a $154 million dedicated funding stream for Metro. This money will now need to be matched by Maryland and the District of Columbia, but it is desperately needed to make up for 20 years of funding neglect. Metro funding is good news, but I am very disturbed that the Senate’s proposal to increase the Northern Virginia hotel tax and grantor’s tax (the tax on home sales) was omitted. Because of this, an additional $50 million per year will be diverted from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA). This means that those NVTA funds may not be available for U.S. 1 improvements in Fairfax and Prince William Counties. I will urge Governor Northam to amend the bill.

    Last week, I met with several state officials. First, I met with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials to address the pending U.S. 1 widening between Fort Belvoir and Hybla Valley. You can read an update in my online newsletter at I also met with VDOT about granting them authority to regulate large signs on our interstates to avoid the debacle last week when some I-95 lanes were shut down for three days by a Potomac Mills’ 140-foot sign that fell down.

    I also met with state economic development officials to discuss Virginia’s designation of areas to be included in the federal Opportunity Zone Program, which would incentivize redevelopment in low-income or high-unemployment areas. Prince William County has refused to share their submission to the state with me and Fairfax County prioritized the Amazon site in Herndon over U.S. 1 although I am not aware of any low-income areas around the Amazon site. I hope to provide persuasive information to the state about the 36th District’s U.S. 1 Corridor, a designation that could yield significant benefit to this highway’s future.

    Please let me know if you have any feedback on this session at It is an honor to serve as your state senator.

  • Spring 2018 Status of U.S. 1 Improvements

    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.

    "U.S. 1 Delegation" Meeting with VDOT & FCDOT Including
    Senators Surovell & Ebbin and Delegates Krizek & Sickles
    VDOT and the County are finalizing the roadway design and including intersection designs at both ends of Buckman Road and Sacramento Drive.  Those designs will be revealed at a public hearing on April 4, 2018.

    VDOT has also determined locations for possible storm water mitigation sites and will present a map showing those locations.

    The current timeline calls for required final approval by the Federal Highway Administration in Late 2018, Right of Way Acquisition taking place from mid-2019 through 2021, Utility Relocation from 2020-2022, and construction from 2023 through the end of 2025.

    Although utility undergrounding is typically a local government function, I am working with Delegates Paul Krizek and Mark Sickles, and Senator Adam Ebbin on securing approximately 60-70% of all funds to underground all utilities on U.S. 1 for this project from alternate sources, but we do not have a final commitment yet. 

    Any remaining funds will need to come from Fairfax County's local funds.  I also passed legislation this session opening up three additional funding streams for the County to use to fund undergrounded utilities.  The County still has not committed to any contribution to utility undergrounding costs, but we are continuing to talk.

    We have secured $44 million of funding so far, but funding for the balance of the U.S. 1 widening is still about $170.8 million short.  We are hoping to obtain funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and the balance from the Commonwealth's statewide transportation funds made possible by the 2013 state transportation tax increase.  The BRT is on a separate funding track and will be funded by the Federal, State and probably local government.

    VDOT is also planning on an online interactive GIS application to better help residents navigate the future improvements.  Fairfax County has a similar application for the EMBARK process which is very cool.

    VDOT considered all of the comments that my constituents provided and more specifically, is still looking into options for creating some kind of cycling/pedestrian trail under U.S. 1 at Little Hunting Creek and at trash and litter mitigation measures at the water crossings.  VDOT is currently planning on the speed limit remaining at 45 M.P.H.

    The public can get full information at the public hearing which will be:

    U.S. 1 Widening Public Hearing
    Wednesday, April 4, 2018
    Location: TBD

    In the meantime, let me know if you have any feedback!