Is a Ferry From Prince William to DC Feasible?

If I-95 is too congested, and the option of expanding it to provide more lanes is not realistic because too many houses would have to be destroyed, what's left? Trains are an obvious tool for moving people, but the Potomac River is also a highway.

Why not establish a ferry to carry commuters from Quantico or Occoquan to the Navy Yard in DC and the Pentagon, where there are Metro stations for the non-military commuters? The ferry could also pick up customers from Maryland.

Cherry Hill
Cherry Hill, along Potomac River

The Cherry Hill Peninsula adjacent to the river is being developed now, and the developer is very supportive of a ferry. After all, an easier commute would make the new houses more attractive to potential buyers, and increase the developer's profits.

The developers who venture their capital in converting raw land into subdivisions, and homeowners trying to sell their houses, understand the close link between land use and transportation. Better transportation infrastructure paid for by tax revenues (at least in part, along with fares from customers) will increase the value of private property near that rail line, ferry, or even highway.

- Ferry Boat Feasibility Study
- Luxury Hotel and Conference Center Planned for Harbor Station
- County gets money to study bus, ferry transportation (The Potomac News, February 26, 2008) (also on Blackboard)

Several problems still need to be addressed:
- ferries need to be fast enough to compete with rail (many ferry customers are projected to be current VRE users, not commuters in cars)
- ferries must be reliable, despite the dozen or so days each year when storms/ice might make water travel difficult
- much of the Potomac River has been designated as a no-wake zone, so ferries must be designed to minimize wakes (otherwise, trips would take too long)
- trip from Occoquan to main river channel requires 15 extra minutes, creating a "too long" commute
- trip from Quantico requires getting access through main gate of Marine Corps Base Quantico
- cost of ferry could be higher than cost of further investment in already-proven VRE, at least for public subsidies

Think it will happen?

Prince William County: A Case Study
Northern Virginia
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