Traffic and transit concerns emerge as commanders potentially move

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A move by Washington commanders to Prince William County could intensify transportation barriers in an area of ​​northern Virginia that suffers from chronic traffic congestion and is largely underserved by public transportation.

News that Commanders recently won the rights to buy land in Woodbridge as a possible site for a new stadium has sparked concern from fans, residents and local officials, who are worried about worsening traffic gridlock along the Interstate 95 corridor, which carries approximately 232,000 people. vehicles daily.

The location, near the Potomac Mills Mall, is 23 miles south of the nation’s capital and accessible only by car. While the Commanders’ current home, FedEx Field in Landover, Md., is not transit-oriented, its location inside the Beltway is about a mile from two subway stations and accessible by bus, by bike and is a quick carpool from more densely populated parts of the Washington area.

“I can’t think of a place that would be worse than this area of ​​Northern Virginia. You come into Lorton heading south on 95 and it tends to clog up really quickly,” said Nick John, a DC resident and football fan. “You can be in stationary traffic for hours.”

Commanders acquire rights to purchase 200 acres in Virginia for potential new stadium

Without significant investment in roads and public transit, a stadium in Woodbridge would likely add to traffic nightmares despite the upgrades to the works. Woodbridge is serviced daily by Amtrak’s Northeast Regional Line, while the Virginia Railway Express and OmniRide, the county’s bus service, operate only on weekdays to bring commuters into town in the morning and back in the evening. An Uber ride from DC typically costs over $50 one way. A bike ride would take nearly three hours.

The Commanders’ deal for the option to buy around 200 acres for around $100 million indicates the franchise is serious about Woodbridge. The team narrowed its stadium search to also include four other locations near Potomac Shores Golf Club in Dumfries, a site near Dulles International Airport in Sterling, RFK Stadium in Washington, and a site near FedEx Field. .

In addition to the stadium, the team wants to build a large commercial and residential complex that supporters call a “mini-city”, including a convention center, concert hall, hotels, restaurants and accommodation.

Virginia State Sen. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax), whose district includes the two potential sites in Prince William County, said the stadium and surrounding development could benefit the area and spur the government to make much-needed investments in transport, including public transport.

“I’m sure the No. 1 concern about this for everyone is traffic. That’s the biggest question mark on this project,” Surovell said, noting that he and Del. Luke E. Torian (D-Prince William) lobbied to expand the county’s subway for 13 years. “I think this project will kick-start the conversation about public transit to Prince William.”

Of the. Danica A. Roem (D), who represents western Prince William County, said investment would not come quickly enough in transportation infrastructure to support a stadium. The Commanders’ lease expires at Landover in 2027.

“How could someone look at the disaster that happened on Interstate 95 during the winter and say, ‘You know what Interstate 95 needs in Woodbridge? A stadium ! said Roem, referring to the Jan. 3 snowstorm that left vehicles stranded along 48 miles of the highway for more than 24 hours.

Frank Principi, a Woodbridge-area resident who served on the county’s Board of Supervisors for more than a decade, said state investments to improve traffic and increase transit in the corridor have set the stage. for a potential home for commanders. Principi said a Potomac River ferry is also an option that should be explored.

I-95 Capacity has been expanded in recent years to include high occupancy toll lanes. The state is also building an auxiliary lane southbound from the Route 123 interchange – which will see its own upgrades to improve traffic flow – to Prince William Drive. State transportation officials said the projects, along with a road widening south of Prince William County, will bring relief to one of the most congested freeway segments on the East Coast.

Transit options are expected to improve over the next decade, especially with intercity and commuter rail service expected to grow under a $3.7 billion state rail program. Plans call for an expansion of VRE that would introduce weekend, two-way, off-peak service before the end of the decade. The sharing The VRE and Amtrak station is about 2.5 miles from the potential stadium site, close enough for possible shuttle service, officials said.

VRE spokeswoman Karen Finucan Clarkson said it was premature to discuss future service as it relates to commanders and said many improvements needed to be made before VRE could expand the service. Among these is the construction of a second railroad bridge over the Potomac River to create a four-lane crossing, a project expected to be built by 2030.

Virginia to build Long Bridge and acquire right of way from CSX to expand passenger train service

In the long term, Surovell said the answer lies in extending the metro to Woodbridge, adding: “It’s certainly doable in 10 to 15 [years] if our region wanted to get serious about it.

State Sen. Jeremy S. McPike (D-Prince William) said transportation issues surrounding the project presented “huge hurdles.”

“With a project of this magnitude, you have to look at all options, both road improvements and transit improvements,” he said.

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, an organization that calls for pedestrian-friendly communities built around public transit, said a stadium would create significant problems for Prince William County on game days. .

“We have already seen what happened to the very auto-dependent location in Prince George which, from opening day, found itself in massive traffic jams on game days,” a- he said, referring to FedEx Field. “We will likely repeat those mistakes in this proposed location.”

Dale City resident and longtime Commanders fan Tavon ‘RevT’ Fennell said a stadium 10 minutes from his home would be convenient for him but would create traffic nightmares, adding he was scared Maryland and DC fans. would stop going to games.

“Can you imagine a Monday night game? Who wants to sit in traffic for 2.5 hours to get to the stadium? said Fennell, a DC native.

Chris Butler, a longtime fan of the football team, said he would not renew his season ticket and would likely attend fewer games if the team moved to Prince William County. Still, Butler said he loves the team and will find a way to go wherever they settle.

“I want to be able to have the option of not driving,” said Butler, 30, from northeast Washington. “It’s not the DMV commanders or the Virginia commanders, it’s the Washington commanders, and I think they should be playing as close to the city of Washington, DC as possible. I don’t think Dumfries or Woodbridge are enough for that.

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