Outside the Beltway But Connected to D.C.

For Apartments section feature on the Riverside Station Apartments in Woodbridge, Va.Shawn M. Bowen walks in front of the property. The gated front entrance increase the feeling of security for some residents.
For Apartments section feature on the Riverside Station Apartments in Woodbridge, Va.Shawn M. Bowen walks in front of the property. The gated front entrance increase the feeling of security for some residents. (Susan Straight for The Washington Post)

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By Susan Straight
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, June 7, 2008

Riverside Station sits along the Potomac River, nestled deep in outside-the-Beltway suburbia, and yet residents can walk to mass transit: the Virginia Railway Express trains.

Adjacent to the 304-unit four-story garden style complex in Woodbridge, the VRE comes through roughly every half-hour during the day to rush commuters along Interstate 95, saving precious hours of driving.

Government contractor Shawn M. Bowen, who moved to Virginia from California in March, decided to live at Riverside Station in large part because he didn't want to have to drive to work. "I researched a lot because I didn't know the area," he said.

"When I found out the train was on the back end [of the property], that was it," he said. "I walk 75 yards from my place to the train station." And the complex met his other requirements, such as having washers and dryers in the units.

He said he can catch the train just after 7 a.m. and be in a meeting or at his desk -- which is in a building just above the Crystal City train station -- by 8 a.m.

Of course, as anyone who has ever lived that close to train tracks knows, the privilege of painless transportation comes with a price. "I can hear the trains, but it's not loud enough to bother me," Bowen said. "When I'm inside with the windows shut and the television on, I don't hear it at all."

Resident Charley Davis said he's not home often enough to notice the train. "I work a lot, so it hasn't been a problem," he said. Davis relocated to the area for work 1 1/2 years ago and found Riverside Station after an unsuccessful day of house hunting with a real estate agent. "We were new to the area -- we didn't know anything about it," he said. "We saw the complex sitting on top of the hill," he said, then he took a tour and liked the staff.

"The customer service was good. They took an interest in what we were trying to accomplish," he said.

Even though Davis and his wife hadn't lived in an apartment before, they decided to try it. "I'd always lived in a house, so I'm not used to someone above me," he said. But after adjusting to that, they have enjoyed their unit and haven't found noise to be an issue.

Resident Phyllis Armstrong agreed. "The entire time I've lived here, I've heard the train twice. Of course, I'm on the front side of the property near the front gate. But noise hasn't been a problem," she said.

Neither Davis nor Armstrong commutes by train, but both are glad the VRE is there in case they need it.

"I thought it would be great if I decided to go into D.C., but I haven't had a chance to do that yet," Armstrong said.


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