Rep. Connolly, elected officials to discuss Metro to Woodbridge

September 22, 2011

A panel of growth and transportation experts from the greater Washington region will visit Prince William County on Monday to discuss the possibility of bringing Metro to the community’s eastern end.

Hosted by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), state and local officials, the meeting on Monday will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Harbour View, 13200 Marina Way in Woodbridge. Before the speaking portion of the program begins at 7 p.m., attendees will have a chance to meet elected officials and express opinions on extending Metro.

Panelists will include Northern Virginia Transportation Commission Executive Director Richard Taube, Metropolitan Washington Council of Government Executive Director David Robertson and John McClain from George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.

“Metrorail to Prince William County is . . . a transit solution we should study and consider,” Connolly said. “If analysis shows that extending Metrorail to Prince William would relieve congestion at a reasonable cost to taxpayers, Metrorail should be taken into consideration as a transit solution for Prince William.”

Local and elected officials have toyed with the idea of bringing Metro to Woodbridge for several years. In January, Connolly reintroduced a bill that would authorize an analysis on and preliminary engineering for the extension of Metro, both south of the Beltway to Woodbridge and west toward Centreville. The bill has been referred to the subcommittee on highways and transit, according to Connolly’s Web site.

“As our residents confront volatile gas prices and declining home values, particularly in suburbs beyond the Metrorail system, it is vital that we extend Metrorail in the busiest commuting corridors,” Connolly said in a letter to rally the support of his colleagues. “This action is critical to reduce transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions while giving commuters more transportation choices.”

Prince William’s population grew 40 percent in the past decade, topping more than 400,000 residents. And, officials said it has not stopped growing. Connolly said Metro could be a key component in the area’s future infrastructure needs. Because market data show home values remain higher near Metro stations, Connolly said extending Metro could also provide more long-term stability in the region’s housing market.

Connolly is seeking funds for a Metrorail feasibility study, officials in his office said. Prince William’s comprehensive plan also addresses the need to study the extension of Metro to Woodbridge as part of the county’s long-term land-use plan.

“We can either begin this discussion now and have a plan in place to handle the growth that is coming to Prince William, or we can wait 20 years and regret that we did not act when we had the opportunity, ” Connolly said.

Metro is one of several transportation ideas being explored for Prince William’s eastern end. Next month, Woodbridge Supervisor Frank J. Principi will host a charrette along with the national Rail-Volution conference happening in the greater Washington region. The Oct. 16 event will be from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Osprey’s Landing on Belmont Bay Drive in Woodbridge.

Community members and business owners are invited to come and discuss transportation strategies for what officials dub the “transit triangle” in North Woodbridge, which runs along the Occoquan River and near the intersection of Routes 1 and 123.

The transit ideas include a passenger ferry service along the Potomac River, the addition of high-occupancy toll lanes on Interstate 95 and bus rapid transit service.

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