Prince William voters overwhelmingly approved two bond referendums on the ballot Tuesday that will give county leaders the green light to borrow up to $396 million for road and parks projects over the next 10 years.
The two bond referendums on the ballot were controversial among the candidates running for local offices Tuesday, and neither received the full support of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors when it voted in June to place them on the Nov. 5 ballot.
But that did not appear to have made a difference on Election Day.
With 91 of 94 precincts reporting, more than 72.74% of Prince William voters cast ballots in favor of the $355 million road bond referendum, while 68.45% gave their blessing to borrowing $41 million to improve county parks, according to unofficial election results.
The vote does not mean the money will be borrowed immediately. The newly-elected Prince William County Board of Supervisors will decide when to move forward with the projects and how.
The road bond referendum included $200 million for improvements to Va. 28. But county leaders are still awaiting the results of an environmental assessment to determine whether they can move forward with a planned bypass for Va. 28.
If that idea is nixed, county transportation planners say they will proceed with a plan to widen Va. 28 from four lanes to six lanes through Manassas and Manassas Park.
Both projects are pegged to cost nearly $300 million. The county would have to cobble the remaining funds together with the help of state or federal grants or by dedicating more local tax money to the improvements.
Other transportation projects targeted for bond funding include:
- Devlin Road widening: A $50 million project to widen Devlin Road to four lanes from Linton Hall Road to Wellington Road, a total of 1.8 miles. The project would take four to six years to complete.
- Intersection upgrade at Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road: A $70 million "SPUI," or single-point urban interchange, for the busy intersection at Minnieville Road and Prince William Parkway. Engineers have proposed that Prince William Parkway would be taken underground, while Minnieville Road would travel atop the intersection. The project would take four to six years to complete.
- Intersection upgrade at Old Bridge Road and Gordon Boulevard: A $15 million "flyover" ramp from Va. 123 and Interstate 95 to Old Bridge Road. The project would take three to five years to complete.
- Summit School Road extension: A four-lane extension of Summit Road would connect it to Caton Hill Road, providing better access to the Horner Road commuter lot. The project would cost $20 million and take three to four years to complete.
The five outdoor park improvements included in the bond are:
- Howison Park improvements: $6 million for trails, spectator seating, fitness equipment, a comfort station, additional parking and better access for people with disabilities at Howison Park, located near Spriggs and Minnieville roads. The park is the home base for the Prince William Soccer Incorporated, one of the largest private youth soccer leagues in the county.
- New Neabsco park: A new "amenity-rich," $6 million park for the Neabsco District. The park could include a "dynamic playground," a climbing wall, hill slides, a "skating ribbon," and other features. It would take three years to complete.
- Fuller Heights expansion: Two additional fields and extra parking are among the improvements proposed in a $6 million expansion of Fuller Heights Park near Triangle. The project would take three years to complete.
- Hellwig Park: $3 million for new athletic turf fields at this Independent Hill area park.
- Trails and open space: $20 million in borrowing would be pegged to improve the county’s trail network with a focus on four specific projects: the Broad Run trail, the Neabsco Greenway, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Occoquan Greenway.
The bonds passed despite the lack of any organized support from community groups. The Prince William County Chamber of Commerce threw its support behind the road bond, promoting it mostly with social media posts.
The chamber issued a statement Thursday claiming victory on the road bond measure.
“This is a monumental victory for the County! Throughout this campaign we have said that this is a now or never moment. Our focus was to educate and turnout voters from all political affiliations to support this measure. The result of today’s election tells us that we were successful in that endeavor,” Ross Snare, the chamber’s director of communications and government affairs said in a statement.