Metro to Centreville and Potomac Mills? Federal study requested

Hank Silverberg,

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – People who live and work around Washington already use mass transit more than in most other areas of the country, and they have the second worst commute in the nation.

Now there is serious talk about expanding mass transit options to help ease that congestion.

Two Virginia congressmen have introduced legislation to look at possibly extending Metro’s Orange Line to Centreville in western Fairfax County and extending the Blue and Yellow lines to Woodbridge and Potomac Mills in Prince William County.

Reps. Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran, who are both Democrats, say continued population growth in both areas and the expansion of Fort Belvoir under the military’s Base Realignment and Closure process make the study even more urgent than past expansion discussions.

“Northern Virginia has the worst traffic in the nation, impacting the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of commuters who sit in traffic hours each day,” Moran said in a written statement.

“Public transit is the answer to this unrelenting congestion. It’s better for commuters, our economy and the environment.”

The Woodbridge route could go through Fort Belvoir and that would be great for future military personnel, says Sgt. Robert Bailey, who is stationed there.

“Right now I have to take the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) into Springfield, then take the shuttle and then go to Belvoir,” says Bailey.

The original Metro plan from the 1960s called for extending the system as far south as Prince William County.

Wanita Gode, who was waiting for a train at the Woodbridge VRE station Tuesday, says the commuter trains are often crowded.

“Whenever I take the train in from Quantico, there are loads of people coming into Woodbridge,” says Gode.

The trains are even more crowded when she makes the return trip from Crystal City in Arlington County. A Metro expansion would be welcome news, she says.

A spokesman for Connolly says there is no timetable for completing the study, and is it not clear how much such an expansion would cost.

Metro’s first major expansion to Dulles International Airport is currently under construction. The projected cost for the 23 miles of the Silver Line is $6.8 billion.

The first phase of the Silver Line is set to open later this year.

This story has been modified to reflect that the original Metro plan called for the extension as far south as Prince William County. It was not on the original Metro map, as initially reported.

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