Opinion Principi: New Investment, Construction Abound in Woodbridge
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 Hilton 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. Later this year, 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!Send news and photos to Potomac Local
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