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Some relief for beleaguered Virginia 'sluggers'

Thursday - 2/24/2011, 5:06pm  ET

Hank Silverberg,

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- The expansion of the Potomac Mills Mall that led to the loss of more than 700 park-and-ride spaces has sent hundreds of commuters scrambling for alternatives.

As a short-term solution, Prince William County is using state money to lease 370 spaces from the First Baptist Church at the intersection of Minnieville Road and Elm Farm Road for $288,600 a year for five years.

Virginia's Department of Transportation will give Prince William $7.8 million to build a new 600 space park-and-ride lot on Telegraph Road. The site is less than a quarter of a mile from the Horner Road lot that already has 2,400 spaces.

Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton says the Telegraph Road site could be open in late 2012.

"We're going to have to make some improvements along Telegraph Road so that there's some pedestrian access there."

The department expects to eventually create thousands of new spaces as part of the HOT lanes project in Prince William County and elsewhere along the Interstate 95 corridor as far south as Stafford County, Connaughton says. The spaces at the church will be available March 14.

Connaughton expects those who use slug lines, the informal car pooling sites, will adjust nicely to that.

"I am amazed at how quickly some of these new lines, new services come up by word of mouth and then putting it on their website."

Potomac Mills has hosted commuter parking for more than 30 years. The original deal allowed for only 275 spaces but that gradually grew to more than a thousand. However, the mall is expanding and has taken back more than 700 spaces, granting access only to the original 275.

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