Tysons Corner Signals Retimed

It's now easier to drive through Tysons Corner, according to Jeris J. White, chief signal engineer of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Rush-hour delays are reduced in this most crowded corner of the state, and $20 million per year is being saved because less time and fuel are wasted.

White points to the completion of traffic-signal retiming at 40 Tysons Corner intersections.

The department finished most of the reprogramming last month and completed fine-tuning the changes two weeks ago, he said. VDOT used information automatically collected by sensors in the road to install new timing patterns for morning and afternoon rush hours as well as for midday, evening and weekend periods.

White said the most noticeable improvements had come during the afternoon rush at Route 123 and International Drive and along Route 7. Some motorists have seen minutes sliced off their commutes. Before the retiming, traffic engineers gave failing grades to 13 of the 40 Tysons intersections at rush hour, concluding that they did not meet the minimum national standard that vehicles should be able to pass through in less than 40 seconds.

But he added that even this high-tech fix, part of a $27 million signalization program in Northern Virginia, has not eliminated traffic tie-ups.

"You can't solve the congestion problem out there," he said. "It's only going to get worse. The only thing you can do is try to make it more orderly."

With more office space expected to become available later this year, he predicted VDOT would have to retime the signals again to address the increasing traffic flows.

-- Alan Sipress

Dream of a Home Fulfilled

Three Father's Days ago, Clyde Jackson, a single father, was living with his two daughters in a one-bedroom apartment in the Trinidad section of the District.

When the day rolled around this year, Jackson, 39, who was featured in a 1997 Father's Day story in The Washington Post, was living in a three-bedroom house in Riverdale that provides a much more comfortable fit for him and his family.

He moved into the house in April after being helped in its purchase by HomeFree-USA, a nonprofit organization that assists people in securing funds for closing costs and down payments and in getting mortgage approval.

At the time of the article, Jackson was living on worker's compensation of about $15,000 a year while the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission searched for a new job for him. Jackson had earned $23,000 a year working as a skilled laborer for the agency when a rope snapped and struck him, injuring his left eye. After that, he was unable to work outside or withstand bright sunlight for long.

In response to the article, readers gave Jackson, who was sleeping on the floor, a bed, money and other other items. He had sued the sanitary commission and hoped that a settlement would provide enough for him "to buy a house" and "put up money for [his children's] college." But by the time a settlement was reached, Jackson had to pay creditors, and there was not enough left to help him achieve his goals.

So he set about looking for another way of getting a house for his family.

Jackson, now a messenger in the sanitary commission's mail room, said last week: "My children now have their own bedrooms, a basement for recreation and a large back yard to play in. I'm now working on my second dream--my kids' college fund."

-- Patrice Gaines

Mossburg Tackles Environment

"You might remember me," begins a news release. "My name is Billy Mossburg and I was in the news a couple of years ago. . . . "

Indeed. In Montgomery County, Mossburg was at the front of the news for much of the decade, stretching from his battles with county officials about his trash-disposal business to his role last year in the Ruthann Aron murder-for-hire case. Mossburg went to the police after Aron, now serving a three-year sentence, tried to hire him to kill her husband and another man.

"My life has changed quite a bit since then," he wrote in the news release, "and I wanted to tell you about what I am now doing for child safety and the environment."

The people who lived near Mossburg's oft-criticized trash operation in North Potomac might laugh at the thought of him as environmental champion, but the 56-year-old Rockville native insists that is the case. Ever entrepreneurial, he has invented a metal screen that fits over curbside storm drains. It lets water through but keeps out leaves, trash, animals, balls--and the children who often are chasing those balls.

Mossburg said he got the idea for the device because of an accident involving a friend's son some years ago. The boy and a chum had crawled through a drain opening in Germantown to try smoking cigarettes. Instead, they set debris on fire, and the friend's son was badly injured.

Mossburg's son Bill, 34, is running the business, called National Inlet Protection Inc.

"I'm just helping this boy out," he said.

Certainly, Mossburg still has contacts. He persuaded Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney A. Katz to allow the new product to be installed at four locations in the city's Bohrer Park. Public works officials report that the guards are doing a fine job at keeping trash out of the park pond.

-- Susan Levine

CAPTION: Clyde Jackson, with daughter Tiffany in 1997, moved into a three-bedroom house in Riverdale in April.