Last week a new twist in Northern Virginia commuting was tested on the waters of the Potomac River. On a windy day with choppy waters a twin hulled catamaran made a run between Quantico and the Navy Yard in DC in 58 minutes. Now if you think that the average driving time along Route 1 or I-95 during rush hour can run close to 1.5 hours in good weather and no accidents the thought of a ferry ride in less than an hour can be enticing.
The proposed Potomac River Express will run between Harbor Station in Woodbridge (under development) and downtown DC still has a long way to go to become a reality. Harbor Station is a new planned development on 2500 acres in Prince William County which will feature a town center, golf course, office and residential space, a VRE station and the proposed Ferry Terminal.
This would be the first significant new option for commuters who live in Prince William or Stafford Counties in a long time. When you look at other cities in the US who successfully use the water as a commuting option the fact the Potomac River has been overlooked for so long is surprising. With the number of homeowners who have made the decision to move further south to find affordable housing it seems a logical next step to find other ways to bring them north to work.
The planning for the ferry will take additional time and in fact it may be at least 3 years before it can become a reality. Having tried twice to make the trip to Harbor Station and found the development to currently be the “road to nowhere” and with the current real estate slow down in Prince William County the progress of the ferry could be delayed even further.
Meanwhile across the river in Prince George’s County, National Harbor has purchased two new 99 passenger boats which will begin running next spring between National Harbor and Old Town Alexandria to start and into DC later in the year.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that both of these ferry projects will be big winners for our region in the war against gridlock.