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Residents Weigh In on Wetlands Boardwalk


WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A new one-mile long boardwalk slated to be built along Neabsco Creek could be a boon for Woodbridge.

The planned 10-foot wide boardwalk will connect wetland areas at Rippon Lodge, Rippon Landing Park, Julie Metz Wetlands and Leesylvania State Park, and is part of the Potomac River Heritage National Scenic Trail.

It’s design draws from ideas from boardwalks all over the country, including Huntley Meadows Park Boardwalk in Fairfax County. Right now, the project is in its early design phase.

“We’re looking to select the types of materials, the design of the boardwalk, the level of interpretation that might go on,” said Jim Klein, co-founder of Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, P.C., the company that has been hired to design the boardwalk.

By summer of 2013 permits will be filed after the details have been hashed out and environmental considerations have been made. Next spring, the final design bid will be put out for construction of the project.

“The boardwalk will be two to three years out,” said Prince William County Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi, who has promoted the project.

Mike Depue, a planner for the Prince William County Parks and Recreation Department, presented information on the areas that would be linked by this boardwalk.

“What we’re really doing here is connecting people with their schools, their homes, their work and the places they eat to the abundance of natural resources that are in the Woodbridge area,” said Depue.

He also noted the completed boardwalk trail could bring tourists to the area, helping to spur the region’s economy.

“Our goal is to design a boardwalk that serves as a distinctive destination along the trail. People should want to come here from all over,” Depue said.

While the boardwalk could have economic benefits, “We’re still struggling with finding the money for this,” Principi stated.

The survey into the interest and initial design for the project has been fully funded, but further stages of the project will require the county to find funding.

According to Klein, there are a distinct set of goals and challenges that will be faced to create the boardwalk. Among these challenges are the fact that the site changes constantly over time, the historic context, environmental building considerations and eco-conscious materials.

Goals have been aligned to meet these challenges, including varying the height and alignment of the boardwalk, historic elements in the design to encourage education, design features like bridges and lookout points for an enhanced view.

“We’ll design the structure, the infrastructure, so that if later more money becomes available, we can install certain things with it, so the design can be flexible,” Klein said of the evolution of design and construction that could occur for the boardwalk.

Residents were given time to address their concerns and offer suggestions to influence the boardwalk’s design. The most popular concerns addressed the parking needs for the boardwalk as well as handicap access, night accessibility, ease of use features, historic site protections and connection to the up and coming Potomac Shores commercial area – a mixed-use area being built along the Potomac River behind the Southbridge neighborhood.

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