By Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011; 4:13 PM
Virginia officials plan to invest almost $8 million to expand commuter parking in eastern Prince William County, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said Thursday.
The state's announcement comes after Potomac Mills mall withdrew about 700 of the commuter parking spaces it had provided for more than two decades Feb. 14. Mall officials, who will still provide 275 spaces, said they needed the space to make way for new commercial development.
Connaughton said a temporary commuter lot will open March 14 at First Baptist Church of Woodbridge, at Minnieville and Elm Farm roads. The state will pay about $288,600 a year for as many as five years to lease 370 spaces. The lot will be served by the local bus system, said transportation officials, who are hoping it will also become a new spot for those who slug, or form impromptu carpools.
Construction of a $7.2 million commuter lot on Telegraph Road - a quarter-mile from the Horner Road lot - will begin this year. The 600-space lot is set to open next year, said Connaughton, who made the announcement with Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) and Virginia Department of Transportation officials at a morning news conference.
"Transportation is a critical issue in Northern Virginia . . . and we've been keeping close tabs on the situation happening here," Connaughton said. "I've commuted from Prince William on I-95 for almost 25 years and know firsthand how essential commuter parking is."
The new commuter lot will be a county project and will include some pedestrian-geared improvements to Telegraph Road, Connaughton said. The state will reimburse Prince William with funds available in the commonwealth's six-year transportation program.
Stewart said about two-thirds of the county's workers commute out of Prince William, which is why providing commuting options is critical. Connaughton said the state will continue to look for locations to add commuter lots.