Since I took office in 2008, we have worked together to transform our community and create what I call a New Woodbridge - a smart growth community that attracts high-paying jobs, reduces traffic congestion, and preserves residential neighborhoods. As a result of our efforts, over $1 billion in public and private investment is now coming to our community.
Think back five years ago. Who would have thought that we would have our own Wegman's and Apple store at a place called Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center? As the economy continues to improve, we will see much more construction in the Woodbridge District. Cranes, cones, and jersey barriers can now be seen at multiple projects in the district. One of which is a mixed-use development called Neabsco Commons, which is anchored by two Hylton hotels and office space. Next door, the Northern Virginia Community College, Woodbridge campus, opened a brand new Arts & Science Building and they have broken ground on a multimillion dollar Workforce Development Training Center. Construction can also be found at the Service Authority's Mooney Plant on Rippon Boulevard, and with the additional of a state-of-the-art operating facility at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center on Opitz Blvd. Investment continues with classroom additions at five of our public schools, adding much needed capacity for an estimated 1,110 students. Additionally, design work is moving forward for George Mason University's Potomac Science Center at Belmont Bay, and the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk along the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
We are also experiencing real progress with the widening of Route 1, adding Express Lanes to Interstate 95, expanded VRE train service to Washington and expanded commuter bus service to Tysons Corner. Progress continues with the build out of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Network to connect families with our schools, parks, wildlife refuges, and retail centers. We have secured three federal grants in the realm of $500,000 each to complete sections of trail and sidewalk. Additionally, three Route 1 widening projects are underway. VDOT is purchasing 99 properties in North Woodbridge and began demolishing structures in the path of our new road. In early 2015, crews will begin burying the utility lines underground. Further south, crews are already burying utilities and bulldozers are clearing the way for a widened Route 1 between Blackburn Road and Featherstone Road.
I recognize that construction can be frustrating, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our goal in the Vision of a New Woodbridge is to revitalize the Route 1 corridor with mixed-use development, removing vacant or blighted buildings, attracting new businesses, investing in transportation infrastructure, and preserving the older neighborhoods that are our backbone.
However, not all development is right for Woodbridge. There are almost 5,000 approved multifamily residences in Woodbridge, many of which are already in construction. These are the result of "stale zoning", meaning they were approved by the County 10, 20, even 30 years ago! These property owners have paid taxes and have been waiting for the right market. They have the right to build. This is a national phenomenon that we see playing out in our community.
Even with this challenge, we are so fortunate to have so many unique outdoor, historic, and educational amenities in the Woodbridge District. Just think about spending a warm spring day touring Historic Rippon Lodge, hiking at Leesylvania State Park, playing soccer in Veterans Park, boating on the Potomac River, or bird watching in 1,000 acres of wildlife refuge! The Potomac Community Library has educational programming, and Potomac Town Center has over 75 national retailers and restaurants - even live music and family friendly outdoor movie nights!
I know construction is frustrating, and transitions can be difficult, but rest assured Woodbridge's best days are ahead. Our vision of a New Woodbridge will soon be a reality. Woodbridge is a great place to live. Be sure to enjoy it!
Tragically, last week we had another pedestrian hit and killed in the Woodbridge Magisterial District. This marks the 8th traffic incident resulting in a pedestrian fatality since 2008. Last November, Sally Ann Okuly, a resident of the Potomac Woods community, was tragically killed when a vehicle struck her in the crosswalk while she was returning home from picking up the Sunday morning paper. At a recent Town Hall Meeting on Pedestrian Safety with the senior citizens living in the Potomac Woods community, Supervisor Frank Principi was joined by representatives from both Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Prince William County Department of Transportation (PWCDOT). Residents recounted many near-miss accidents on Opitz Boulevard and offered multiple suggestions for making the neighborhood safer for pedestrians. Since January of 2008, there have been 62 crashes involving pedestrians in the Woodbridge District, resulting in seven fatalities.
“I am focused on increasing pedestrian and bicyclist safety,” says Supervisor Principi. “We are all motorists, walkers, or cyclists at one point or another. It’s time we learn to better share the road.”
Supervisor Principi led an effort last year to identify missing links in sidewalks, trails, and crosswalks in the Woodbridge District. Over 30 segments were prioritized based on safety and connectivity factors. “We want to eliminate the “sidewalks to nowhere” and increase safety so families are better connected to schools, churches, parks, shopping, and other amenities,” says Principi.
Once fully completed, the Pedestrian & Bicycle Network will be fifty continuous miles around the Woodbridge District. In the next few years, new sidewalks and trails will be seen along several roads in Woodbridge, including:
• Route 1 between Annapolis Way and Mary’s Way
• Route 1 between Featherstone Road and Neabsco Mills Road
• Route 1 at Powell’s Creek
• Dale/Rippon Boulevard from Neabsco Mills Road across Route 1
• Opitz Boulevard from Mason Creek Drive to Potomac Library
“We need to take a multi-prong approach to improving pedestrian safety,” says Principi. “This includes constructing sidewalks and trails, new signage, better signal timing, and increased enforcement.”
2014 Pedestrian & Bicycle Network White Paper
2013 Woodbridge Walkability Map
Montgomery Avenue - Opitz Blvd Summary
2014 Sidewalk Brochure
Pedestrian Safety Improvements Near Opitz Blvd.