Water Supply Likely Sufficient Until 2025

The region's water supply should be able to meet the demands of the area's 4 million residents for the next 20 years, even if there is a severe drought, according to a report released yesterday.

The Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, which studied the region's water supply for three utilities, said that average water use per capita has decreased since the supply was last studied five years ago.

The report says that new laws establishing low-flow standards for toilets and faucets, combined with increased water treatment capacity, make the area better capable of weathering a drought.

The average water use in the region is 488 million gallons per day. The 2000 forecast predicted 2025 usage would be 28 millions per gallon higher than the estimate released yesterday.

The commission studied population forecasts, water reserves and water-use history to develop its findings. The panel was drafted on behalf of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Fairfax Water Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Washington Aqueduct Division.


Interim VDOT Commissioner Named

Gregory A. Whirley, inspector general of the Virginia Department of Transportation, was named its interim commissioner yesterday by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D). Whirley will take over July 1 for commissioner Philip A. Shucet, who announced this week that he will step down June 30.

Warner and Shucet said that Whirley, a certified public accountant, would continue enforcing fiscal discipline at VDOT and making reforms that have helped the agency markedly improve its on-time and on-budget record.

Whirley, 52, lives in Chesterfield County and is a graduate of Virginia State University.

He worked as an auditor for an accounting firm in Washington from 1974 to 1977; as a controller for the National Mental Health Association for the next six years; and as controller for the National Governors Association from 1983 to 1988, when he joined VDOT.

Woman Killed in GW Parkway Crash

A woman was killed yesterday on the George Washington Parkway south of Alexandria, U.S. Park Police said. The parkway was closed for more than four hours, they said.

The crash occurred shortly before 3:30 p.m. near Morningside Drive.

Toll-Lane Proposals for I-95 and I-395

Two private companies submitted competing proposals yesterday to build toll lanes on Interstates 95 and 395.

The plans call for adding high-occupancy toll lanes to the corridor, and a fee would be charged for vehicles carrying fewer than three passengers. That fee would rise during peak periods to try to keep lanes from clogging.

The proposals, which differ in design and concept, would widen and lengthen the carpool lanes, which extend from the 14th Street Bridge to the Dumfries area. Expanded bus service is envisioned as part of the plans.

The plans would rely on toll revenue to repay bonds used to finance the facilities.

Virginia officials plan to launch a study of the proposals next month that will determine if either is viable or desirable.

In April, state officials contracted with a private venture to build the region's first HOT lanes on a 14-mile stretch of the Capital Beltway. Officials in Maryland are sifting through proposals to build toll lanes on that state's portion of the Beltway, as well as on several other major highways.

Trailer Accident Suspends VRE Service

Virginia Railway Express suspended service north of Alexandria through most of yesterday's morning rush hour after a tractor-trailer rammed into a downtown D.C. railroad bridge shortly before 6 a.m.

The vehicle, which struck the bridge "hard," VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said, lost most of its top. The trailer's tires were deflated so the vehicle could be dislodged from beneath the bridge.

About 8:30 a.m., an engineer determined that the bridge was sound, Roeber said. Service was restored, and the railroad was able to run normal afternoon rush-hour service.


Democratic Women's Group Honors Cropp

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp has been selected as the Outstanding Democratic Woman Holding Office by the National Federation of Democratic Women.

The award is to be presented today in Kansas City, Kan., at the organization's annual convention. "Chairman Cropp has been an ardent supporter of D.C. statehood and elective representation in the Congress for the citizens of the District of Columbia," said Linda Jefferson, D.C. Federation president.

Jefferson also praised Cropp for her commitment to social programs and her courage in renegotiating the financial plan for a new stadium for the Washington Nationals. Cropp has pushed for some private financing of the stadium.


Road Work Snarls Traffic on Route 50

Faulty equipment and construction difficulties caused a nighttime highway project on Route 50 to extend into morning yesterday, frustrating commuters as rush-hour traffic backed up from Annapolis to beyond the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

The problems began when some of the 70 bolts that secure an exit sign over the highway could not be removed easily and had to be cut, a State Highway Administration spokesman said.

Then, at 4:30 a.m., a bucket truck broke, halting work until a replacement truck could be located. "At that point," spokesman David Buck said, "you're at the point of no return. When you have six bolts holding a 27,000-pound sign, you do what you have to do to safely get the road back open."

The work left two of Route 50's three westbound lanes closed until about 8:40 a.m., Buck said. Traffic backed up 10 miles, over the bridge and onto Kent Island.

Meanwhile, Maryland officials warned that Bay Bridge traffic probably will back up for miles again today.

Weather permitting, some lanes on the westbound span will be reversed to help alleviate backups, officials said.

"They want to build this soccer powerhouse. But they haven't stopped to think that it's at someone else's expense."

-- resident Barbara Bodson, about a neighborhood controversy over a Lewinsville Park soccer field in McLean that hosts college play and is equipped with lights. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Steven Ginsberg, Lila de Tantillo, Martin Weil, David Nakamura and Eric Rich and the Associated Press.