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VIRGINIA BRIEFING

Friday, July 27, 2007

TRANSPORTATION

U.S. Bill Has Funds for I-66, VRE, Bridge

The U.S. House of Representatives approved an annual transportation bill this week with funds to study the possibility of a bus rapid transit system along Interstate 66 outside the Capital Beltway, extend Virginia Railway Express to Haymarket and improve the 14th Street Bridge.

The bill, which awaits action in the Senate, includes $3 million for the bridge, $500,000 for the I-66 study and $500,000 for the railway extension.

The funds were requested by Reps. James P. Moran Jr. (D), Thomas M. Davis III (R) and Frank R. Wolf (R), all of Northern Virginia.

The I-66 study would complement the decision last month by Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board to study a variety of transit options along I-66 inside the Beltway.

Bus rapid transit is like a train on wheels, with dedicated lanes, platform loading and other elements of rail systems to provide faster transit service but at a lower cost.

-- Amy Gardner

LOUDOUN COUNTY

Cause Sought for Fire That Destroyed Home

An investigation is underway into the cause of a fire that destroyed a home in Bluemont on Wednesday night, the Loudoun County fire marshal's office said yesterday.

The fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage, authorities said.

It was reported by a neighbor who saw flames and smoke coming from the house on Snickersville Turnpike.

The structure began to collapse soon after firefighters from several jurisdictions arrived, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

-- Bill Brubaker

GUN CONTROL

Pistol That Killed N.Y. Officer Came From Va.

A pistol that was used to kill a New York City police officer was originally sold by a now-closed Virginia gun shop that was notorious for putting weapons into the hands of criminals.

Investigators do not know when or how the .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol was acquired by the man who allegedly used it to ambush Officer Russel Timoshenko during a July 9 traffic stop in Brooklyn.

The gun's initial owner, who bought it legally in 1999, died several years ago. Authorities are trying to determine what happened to it next.

Records showed that the weapon's initial source was R&B Guns, a store in Hampton in southeastern Virginia that was criticized by gun-control advocates for what they claimed were careless sales practices.

R&B Guns was shuttered in 2001, a year after owner Richard Norad was arrested by Virginia State Police on charges of violating firearms laws.

-- Associated Press

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