The Competition

According to the Washington Business Journal, redevelopment at Bailey’s Crossroads will add another 1.9 million square feet of Class A office space, over 4000 new residential units, and 15 acres of new parks.  Key to the project: a new 5-mile streetcar line between Bailey’s Crossroads and Pentagon City.

According to Fairfax County, the preferred concept for the site “is based on public input on two previous conceptual options, incorporating desired elements from both. An 11-member Citizens’ Advisory Committee led the efforts to solicit public feedback.”

The Washington Business Journal quoted a county planner: “I’d say there was unanimous buy-in for the plan… People were very supportive. Everyone seemed to like the concept.”

What a contrast to Prince William County’s approach to growth.

Prince William has opportunities to revitalize aging commercial centers on Route 1, at places comparable to Bailey’s Crossroads.   However, Prince William officials (including the supervisor advocating for a town center at North Woodbridge) are unwilling to focus transportation investments so they spur private-sector investment for redevelopment along Route 1. 

Instead, the Board of County Supervisors adopted a Transportation Chapter in the Comprehensive Plan that promises everything to everyone – expanded highways, new roads and interchanges, VRE extension to everywhere, even Metrorail and ferry services in the future.  There’s not enough $$$ to build those projects.

So money and effort are being frittered away on useless studies, perhaps to maintain the fiction that the transportation funding problem will just go away someday.  In the meantime, each magisterial district may get a little bit of funding for a commuter lot or a turn lane, but steering funds to complete a major project is not the Prince William Way. 

For land use, it looks like county officials want more of the same ol’ same ol’ suburbia.  Prince William officials support development in “greenfield” areas, including the absurd Avendale proposal.  There’s only so much demand for new development in Prince William.  Supervisors could steer that growth so we revitalize the Route 1 corridor, or supervisors could approve scattering new development everywhere – along Route 15, down Linton Hall Road, on the Parkway, etc. so we undercut efforts to spur growth in the Potomac Communities. 

By fragmenting development, by scattering new transportation infrastructure, by supporting Anything Anywhere At Any Time, our supervisors have abdicated their responsibility to plan for future growth.  Our officials talk about walkable, transit-oriented town centers – but their actions speak louder than words.

In the meantime, Fairfax County is planning for the future, and working the plan…

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