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House and State Senate budgets include funds for metrorail study in PWC

House and Senate General Assembly money committees announced this week that the budget will include language to study extending Metro’s Blue Line to Lorton, Woodbridge, Potomac Mills, and Quantico along with enhanced transit on U.S. 1 in Prince William County.  Prince William and Stafford County includes the most congested traffic and longest commutes in the U.S.

A Blue Line feasibility study would assess the necessity of the metro extension for alleviating the commuter congestion and improving the quality of life for working families.

Surovell previously fought for and obtained a study on extending the Yellow Line to Hybla Valley in Fairfax County in 2011. That study identified economic, engineering, and funding feasibility of the extension by looking at ridership, system impacts, and trip impacts.  Research demonstrates that transit brings economic development to the region. Most major employers are now looking to place jobs next to transit.

The Virginia Department of Transportation recently conducted a study of Interstate 95 and found that after Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia, Fort Belvoir was the third most common destination for drivers on the interstate.  Ft. Belvoir sees 82,000 vehicle trips to the base per day has no public transit access today.

“Metro has been a work in a progress since its inception,” said Surovell. “I have been fighting for this for three years, and with the support of fellow legislators, we can bring vast improvement to our transportation system with ripple effects throughout Northern Virginia. Not only is there a positive impact on the quality of life with a metro option, but moving people by rail uses less energy than moving them by gas-powered vehicles. It reduces our community’s carbon footprint.”

Senator George Barker worked alongside Surovell to outline the budgetary parameters for the proposed amendment and chairs the Senate Finance Subcommittee which wrote the study language into the budget. “Senator Surovell and I have worked for years to secure a Blue Line study from the state budget in order to assess the feasibility of a metro extension through Prince William County.  The revenue collected from such an extension would be a great asset to localities and improve the quality of public transit access for commuters and tourists alike.  This study is long overdue, and we are taking a great step forward in alleviating the heavy traffic that is burdensome to Northern Virginia families and residents.”

Delegate Luke Torian, who represents the 52nd District, chairs the House Appropriations Committee.  “Transportation infrastructure is always a top priority for the Prince William County delegation. We are happy with this budget item as it requires cooperation and buy-in from both Fairfax and Prince William Counties,” said Torian. “A DRPT evaluation should produce useful information on the feasibility of extending transportation options such as the Metro Blue Line and bus rapid transit into Prince William County, which will help the General Assembly and the localities take the best and most informed next steps.”

“As Chair of the Transportation and Public Safety subcommittee of Appropriations, I recognize the importance of this study to combat mobility chokepoints and increasing multi-modal options along the Route 1 corridor. This is vital to improving the lives of our citizens,” said Delegate Paul Krizek.

Congressman Gerry Connolly represents Prince William County in the U.S. House. “Residents in Prince William County experience some of the longest commutes in the nation,” Connolly said. “We need to look at solutions that take cars off the roads and provide viable transportation alternatives for our citizens. Whether or not we determine that Metrorail is the best solution, we must begin the conversation now. I applaud Senator Surovell for his leadership on this issue,” said Connolly.

Senator Jeremy McPike, who represents a large part of Prince William County, has been a staunch supporter of the blue line expansion.  “The study included in the Senate Budget Amendment has been a long time coming. We finally have provisions to create a framework for transportation projects down the line. Typically, metro expansions like this will take decades but we shouldn’t be disheartened. This study is the first step on our pathway to a modern mass transit future,” said McPike.

“Too many families lose precious time together due to heavy congestion along the I-95 Corridor,” said Delegate Elizabeth Guzman. “Studying the expansion of the Blue Line Metro into a county where the majority of residents commute outside of the county for a high-paying job is vital to fixing the traffic crisis we face every day. This is what the majority of Prince William County residents want. We don’t need to be prioritizing wider roads; we need to be focusing on more mass transit development.” 

“I am thrilled to know that money is being allocated for the Blue Line Study,” said Delegate Jennifer Carroll-Foy.  “From my conversations with constituents at their doors or in my office, they have always listed transportation as their number one priority. I was proud to introduce this legislation in 2018 and will continue to be a part of the solution.”

Supervisor-at-large, Anne Wheeler, highlighted the benefits to Prince William County with the potential metro extension. “Residents of Prince William continue to experience some of the longest commutes in the nation. As the Board weighs options to alleviate traffic congestion and plan for the anticipated population growth, viable multimodal transportation must be part of the conversation. I commend Senators Surovell and Barker for securing funds to study multimodal transportation options, to include a Blue Line Metrorail extension, along the I-95 and U.S. Route 1 corridors to key employment and commerce centers in our county. No matter what the long-awaited study results determine, this is a step in the right direction. I look forward to many conversations to come as we seek to identify the best transportation solutions for our residents, our workforce, and tourists alike.”

Woodbridge District Supervisor Margaret Franklin represents several of the neighborhoods included in the study. “Woodbridge has consistently been burdened with heavy traffic congestion, which has negatively impacted the welfare of our community.  As a commuter, I understand firsthand the challenges that exists along the I 95 and Route 1 corridor,” Franklin said. “Longer commutes means more time on the road and less time with our families.  Because the transportation infrastructure in Woodbridge was not built for the population influx that we have seen over the last few decades, we must extend the blue line on the metro into Woodbridge. Extending the blue line will improve the viability of our transit system and increase economic development in Woodbridge.”

Occoquan District Supervisor Kenny talked about the importance of integrating new transportation solutions with existing transit. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to our transportation challenges as a region. My team and I are exploring everything from increased walkability and bike share to improvements to OmniRide and VRE. We need an all-of-the-above approach to transit, but one transit option stands out for its ability to spark economic growth: Metro,” Boddye said. “In addition to shortening commute times, extending the Blue Line to Prince William would allow us to reach our full economic potential as a County. A station in the Occoquan District – at Potomac Mills – would make Prince William County a destination for shoppers far and wide and would be a big boost to local businesses. Where Metro goes, investment follows. I applaud Senators Scott Surovell and George Barker for securing dedicated funding to pursue a transit solution that would transform Prince William, the region, and the commonwealth.”

Potomac District Supervisor Andrea Bailey represents the potential terminus of the transit extension. “Transportation is one of the fundamental properties of assuring that the functionality of a community is in rhythm with its constituents’ needs. Therefore, providing an initial study for the Metro Blue Line is fundamental to Prince William County’s growth in serving the community. This study would be the example of how we as legislators are listening to and being respectful of the needs of the community to ease traffic and promote multi-module transportation options to our community. I am in total support of this monumental initiative to create a study for the need and performance of the Metro in Prince William County,” Bailey said.

Senator Scott A. Surovell represents parts of Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford Counties since 2015. Prior to his time in the Senate, Surovell served six years in the House of Delegates. Surovell lives in Mt. Vernon with his wife and four children. He practices law and has dedicated his legislative career to fighting for Northern Virginia’s fair share, protecting consumers, and preserving our environment for future generations.

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