VRE infill station launches a new idea: transit-oriented sprawl
Virginia Railway Express officials broke ground yesterday on the Potomac Shores station, an infill commuter rail station in Prince William County that will be the centerpiece of a new town center.
The website boasts of "rugged beauty," an on-site 18-hole golf course, and miles of recreational trails. There's no doubt that Potomac Shores is sprawl.
But it's a new kind of sprawl. At its center, a new urbanist town center complete with a new commuter rail station.
Developer SunCal is building the station. When it opens in 2017, and if the town center has enough amenities, Potomac Shores could legitimately be a lot less car-dependent than the typical outer suburban subdivision.
That's great news, even if it's still true that Potomac Shores won't be as urban, diverse, or dense as DC.
New urbanism marries TOD
For decades now, new urbanist communities have used mixed-use and good design to make for better suburbs. Nobody would call Kentlands a true city, for example, but it's a marked improvement over most of west Gaithersburg. And since we'll never fit all the growth in the entire metropolitan region into DC, getting suburbs right is hugely important.
By building around a VRE station, Potomac Shores takes 20th Century new urbanism to the next level. It's not just a traditional neighborhood development; it's a transit-oriented development.
There are other transit-oriented new urbanist communities popping up around the region. But they're mostly in closer-in places like Montgomery County or Fairfax, and nobody has ever built a new VRE station as the centerpiece of one.
Potomac Shores is an experiment. It's obviously sprawl, but maybe it'll prove to be a more sustainable and livable kind of sprawl. Time will tell.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Did you enjoy this article? Greater Greater Washington is running a reader drive to raise funds so we can keep editing and publishing great articles every day. Please help us be sustainable by making a monthly, yearly, or one-time contribution today!
- More than 20% of people bicycle to work in some DC neighborhoods
- How the Navy, baseball, and government planners made Capitol Riverfront one of DC's hottest neighborhoods
- Walkers were left out in the cold after the blizzard
- Muriel Bowser announces eight sites for homeless shelters
- DC added record housing in 2015. That's slowing down price increases.
- Did Metro handle buses correctly in this mostly-non-storm?
- Nobody cleared the Mount Vernon Trail after Snowzilla. Future storms might be different.