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Will Metro ever come to Prince William County?

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., has introduced a bill for a federally funded feasibility study to look into Metro expansion into Prince William County. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Silver Line will bring Metro from Fairfax into Loudoun County, but some people in Prince William County want to know when they will get a Metro station.

Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., has introduced a bill for a federally funded feasibility study to examine a Metro expansion into Prince William County, which he has tried to push through each of the last three years. Connolly represents Virginia’s 11th District, which includes most of Fairfax and Prince William counties.

Prince William County lawmakers voted 7-1 on a resolution to support the feasibility study on Tuesday night.

“[Tuesday] night’s action by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors is another important step towards determining whether Metro to Prince William County is in our future,” Connolly said in a statement.

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, a Democrat, who introduced the resolution, says decisions now could mean Metro’s presence in the county in a few decades.

“Metro hopes to deal with the core capacity issues in the next 20 years. If the feasibility study were to get started next year, then we can probably walk and chew gum at the same time and see Metro here in the next 20 or 30 years,” Principi says.

Shyam Kannan, director of planning at Metro, spoke to Prince William County lawmakers last week.  Kannan told them Metro must deal with issues in the downtown core outlined in the Metro 2025 plan before it can entertain any new extensions.

The plan calls for all eight-car trains during rush hours, more escalators, stairs and mezzanine space at transfer stations, bus-only lanes in major corridors, improved reliability and a long-term solution to the logjams at the Rosslyn station. None have been funded yet.

“I think we have to be careful about creating a public expectation. It’s not likely to happen anytime that anyone here today is going to be able to enjoy,” says Coles District Supervisor Martin Nohe, a Republican.

“We have a much better opportunity to expand heavy rail transit in Prince William County by expanding our existing [Virginia Railway Express] service than we can by trying to introduce newer services like Metro. But if the federal government wants to study bringing Metro into Prince William County, I’m certainly not going to stand in their way,” he adds.

One option would be to extend Virginia Railway Express service on the Manassas Line to Gainesville and Haymarket, which VRE already plans to study. It will hold a public meeting on the issue at Gainesville Middle School on Nov. 10.

Cost is another problem with extending Metro into Prince William County. Kannan says it will cost $100-$600 million per mile to build the new track, another $80-$300 million to build new stations, and $17-$22 million per eight-car train serving Prince William County.

Together the total cost would be billions.

“It is simply exploring whether or not it will be feasible to extend Metro into Prince William County.  We don’t think that it is possible, but we don’t want to shut the door and we want to keep all the options open,” says Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, a Republican At Large.

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