- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 3, 2009

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WOODBRIDGE, Va. | Prince William County residents tired of clogged roadways and trains could soon opt for a commuter ferry to get to work.

County officials are exploring a proposal to launch a ferry service along the Potomac River, giving commuters another route to Washington. They will discuss the idea with investors and water transportation specialists during a summit planned for this week at the Occoquan Harbor Marina.

“It has been clear to me that people want transportation alternatives, and I share in the vision of utilizing Northern Virginia’s last unused highway,” said Frank Principi, a Prince William County supervisor.

The idea, however, isn’t new. This will be the third time in eight years that officials have evaluated a ferry service between the county and the city.

In 2007, Mr. Principi arranged for a ferry operator near Boston to come down and conduct trial runs from Quantico to the Washington Navy Yard. The trips took about an hour each.

As part of the revived effort, about 75 people will take a ferry ride Wednesday to the Navy Yard to again test timings and drum up public support, Mr. Principi said.

Besides Quantico, other starting points also are being considered such as Harbor Station, Occoquan and Belmont Bay. Officials say parking space will be among the factors in choosing the spot.

The ferry tests will run Monday through Wednesday. The federal government is paying $225,000 to fund the tests, with the money coming through a Virginia Department of Transportation grant, officials said.

There’s no single funding source that ferry proponents have identified to pay for the service, if it gets approved. Mr. Principi said about $600 million from the federal economic stimulus package could help cover construction costs for docks at ferry stations.

Officials also have looked into combining federal, state and local tax money to pay for the proposed ferry, he said.

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