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McAuliffe Breaks Ground for Potomac Shores VRE Station

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — With a golden shovel and the tossing of dirt, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe broke ground for a new Virginia Railway Express station in Woodbridge.

The $14 million passenger depot will be on the commuter railroad’s Fredericksburg line, and will be built in the developing Potomac Shores neighborhood, a master-planned community already getting attention after it opened its Jack Niclaus-designed golf course in June.

With more than 100 new homes and several new developments planned for the 2,000 acre property, including a new hotel and town center to surround the rail station that will over look the Potomac River, the region’s population – and traffic congestion – is expected to only get worse.

“You cannot grow an economy if your transportation system doesn’t work,” said McAuliffe, who says he’s all too familiar with bad Northern Virginia traffic. “We normally travel [Interstate] 95 several times per week. Today, we couldn’t take the risk and we took a helicopter, to be honest with you.

The station has been a long time coming and is part of the original vision for VRE, developed more than 20 years ago. It will be constructed under a public-private partnership with Potomac Shores’ developer, California-based SunCal building the rail station and Virginia taxpayers footing the $75 million price tag for an 11-mile extension of addition track that will be needed to serve the station.

“Our traffic is terrible and is getting worse and worse in front of us,” said Stafford County Aquia District Supervisor Paul Milde, who is also Chairman of the Virginia Railway Express Executive Board. “…We simply don’t have the money we need to build and maintain the miles of new lanes that are needed to unsnarl the traffic nightmare that has been associated with this county and my county, and our region has to deal with daily.”

The new station is slated to open by 2017 and will sit on below a bluff that overlooks the Potomac River. It will be the center of the development new town center that, when built out completely, will feature a hotel, restaurants, retail stores, new homes, and office space.

“This development will act as a catalyst as an economic engine to spur development in the county and this region for years and years to come,” said Prince William County Potomac District Supervisor Maureen Caddigan. “The station will take thousands of cars off the road when it’s built.”

After years of off again-on again development, SunCal purchased the foreclosed property on the Cherry Hill Peninsula on which its Potomac Shores will sit in 2011. Before its previous developer went belly up during the U.S. economic downturn, the development was known as Harbor Station.

Longtime peninsula resident and former Prince William County Woodbridge District Supervisor Hilda Barg has long anticpated the development of this project. “I have waited for much more than 20 yeasrs. I’ve seen different developers on this peninsula. I’ve watched them come and I’ve watched them go,” said Barg. “When we got SunCal we got the real deal.”

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