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Woodbridge Science Center On Track for 2015

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Residents know more about the Potomac Science Center planned for the growing Belmont Bay neighborhood.

A science center has long been slated for the planned mixed-used neighborhood located on the Occoquan River at Virginia Railway Express’ Woodbridge station. George Mason University will now spearhead the project to build the 50,000 square foot center to study the watershed of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

Plans for the new center were presented to a crowd about at least 80 people at Thursday’s meeting of the Woodbridge Potomac Communities Civic Association.

Because Northern Virginia is one of the most rapidly growing regions in the nation, science center spokesman Alex Iszard said the planned center will study the affects of growth on ecosystems and organisms in the area.

“Having a facility on the Occoquan River with direct access to the Potomac River is something we have been looking for a long time,” said Iszard.

George Mason University also plans to partner with Prince William County Public Schools as part of the educational mission of the Potomac Science Center. About 20 to 30 full-time staff will work in the new building, as well as undergraduate and graduate students.

A community outreach space, and a three-story, 200-space parking garage are also in the plans for construction.

This will the first building in a planned town center that has been slow to take off. While residential housing like single family homes and high-rise condominiums have sprung up around a marina, commercial development has stayed away.

Once the science center is completed in 2015, two other commercial buildings will also be built nearby. It’s too early in the process to say what types of businesses they will house or what they will look like, said Iszard.

A fully funded interchange improvement at the nearby busy intersection U.S. 1 and Route 123 should begin sometime next year. When complete, planners said it will be easier for drivers to access the Belmont Bay development.

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