Dessina Mendita knows if she arrives late to the Horner Road
commuter lot in Woodbridge, it will be tough to find a parking
"A lot of people have to park illegally," she said.
Cars line the lot's entrance road, even though signs
specifically inform motorists they can only park in marked
Mendita, who lives in Woodbridge and works in Crystal City,
still prefers this lot because she can easily find a welcoming
driver to give her a ride or passengers for her car on the
The Virginia Department of Transportation, which owns the lot,
reported this year it had 104 percent usage, with one hundred
more cars parked than spaces available.
The Lake Ridge Commuter Lot, Montclair Commuter Lot, the U.S.
1/Va. 234 lot and the Triangle lot at Va. 619 and U.S. 1 all
have few, if any, spaces left in the mornings. VDOT reported
the U.S. 1/Va. 234 lot at 114 percent capacity.
Other lots in the county have 25 percent or less spaces being
used, according to VDOT. Underused lots include the Lindendale
commuter lot, the Brittany Neighborhood Park lot and the
Interstate 95/Va. 123 Loop Interchange lot.
"Part of what's happening is that demand is being driven
by the slugs," said Prince William County Board of
Supervisors Chair Sean T. Connaughton, R-at large.
"Certain destinations for slugs seem to be generating
greater demand for commuter parking than others.
"So we have this uneven growth in demand throughout the
95 corridor. On paper we have a surplus of parking spots, but
when you look at individual lots, certain are well over
VDOT's study showed more sport utility vehicles parking in
these lots in recent months, perhaps because of increased gas
prices, said VDOT spokesman Ryan Hall.
Some also say people drive north from Stafford County and
other areas and occupy spaces in Prince William lots.
A county study looking at residents' personal property
stickers showed almost 25 percent of cars in the Horner Road
lot came from Stafford, Connaughton said.
But Mendita and VDOT representatives agreed most of the cars
belong to county residents.
Woodbridge resident Scott Martinez arrives at the Horner Road
lot each morning no later than 7:10, and easily finds a spot.
Slugging, or sharing a ride with strangers so the car can use
the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on I-95, saves him
approximately two hours each day on his commute to the
"It's very convenient," Martinez said. "It's a
Aside from allowing him more time to spend with family,
Martinez likes to carpool because fewer cars on the road means
fewer accidents and a cleaner environment.
A crowded lot like Horner Road works better than an empty one,
"There's more of a pool of bodies," going to a
variety of locations, Martinez said.
The county added approximately 400 spaces a few years ago to
the Horner Road lot, Connaughton said. But the slug lines seem
to have followed the expansion.
"The more that we expand capacity at certain lots, we're
seeing demand get less at other lots," Connaughton said.
VDOT has no plans or funding for new lots or expansion in
Prince William County.
But the department owns 12 acres adjacent to the overcrowded
Va. 234 lot. County Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan,
R-Dumfries, wants VDOT to build a lot there. She hopes
Dumfries state Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, R-52nd District,
can help obtain some extra state funding to build that lot
Frederick is out of town this week and could not be reached
"Since there appears to be funds for transportation in
the governor's budget, I though it was reasonable to request
that, since there isn't any money for widening roads,"
Gov. Mark R. Warner proposed this week $824 million in funding
for rail, public-private partnerships and paying off debts.
Building a commuter lot would cost less than widening
highways, Caddigan said.
"If we're not going to get relief on 95, and we're not
going to get relief on Route 1, and we are encouraging people
to double up in their cars, the state needs to provide these
funds," Caddigan said.
Residents don't want to have to drive out of their way to a
less-crowded lot, Caddigan said.
But expanding the Va. 234 lot with the 12 acres will cost
millions, which VDOT doesn't have, said Tom Fahrney, VDOT
transportation manager for Prince William County.
The parcel also poses some environmental issues.
"It's quite a conundrum," Connaughton said.
Staff writer Sari Krieger can be reached at (703) 878-8062.