Prince William County, rural until the late 1930s, has experienced such growth since the 1960s that it is now the third most populated jurisdiction and the second largest county in Virginia. Only 30 miles from downtown Washington, D.C. and 20 minutes from Dulles International Airport, it is a prime area for business development. In October 2011, the county was named number one in job growth in the state. Quantico military base is also expanding its workforce. As 75 percent of the labor pool in Northern Virginia is within 30 minutes of the center of the county, local officials are always looking for ways to shorten the commute.
To this end, Prince William County was the proud recipient of $200 million in road improvements that directly impact the county, as a part of federal transportation funding. As Rob Clapper, President and CEO of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce noted when Governor Bob McDonnell made the announcement, the funding, “… will facilitate the movement of goods and people in our community. Our 2011 Legislative Agenda also emphasizes roads projects that would spur economic development. Obviously, we are excited at the progress the governor’s announcements represent for businesses in the Prince William region.”
The improvements will include numerous improvement such adding lanes, building new interchanges at Gainesville, and widening I-66, replacing some bridges, and widening, adding lanes, and improving traffic management on other area roads.
Not only will the road improvements reduce congestion for the workforce, they will assist visitors who come to see other area attractions. Prince William County is the site of the Marine Corps Heritage Museum, the Hylton Performing Arts Center, the Old Dominion Speedway, and the Manassas National Battlefield Park. It will also be the location for the new American Wartime Museum and the 150th commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the famous First and Second Battles of Manassas. Other tourist destination are the Potomac Mills outlet mall, the 10th most popular tourist destination in the state, the Jiffy Lube Live concert facility, and Prince William Forest Park – the largest National Park Service property in the Washington, D.C. region.
The roadwork is a step in the right direct to complete the county’s 2008 Comprehensive Plan for land use in the area. The county hopes to attract increasing numbers of high-paying professional jobs with transit-oriented housing to serve the workforce. New roads, widened roads, and well-engineered traffic management will compliment expanded regional mass transit. As the Metro service is expanded to Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, legislators discuss the possible expansions of the Metro into Prince William County as well as other options.
With the area growing, stay tuned for other upcoming improvements in Prince William County.