Prince William County and Manassas are seeking $1.5 million for bus shelters, street lights and pedestrian safety improvements at OmniRide’s Mosby Street bus hub at the Prince William County courthouse.
The county is applying for an I-66 Commuter Choice grant to fund the project. The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission grant uses toll money from Interstate 66 for transit improvements and other projects aimed at reducing highway traffic along the corridor.
Paolo Belita, a regional planning and programming manager for Prince William, said the improvements are needed because the courthouse now serves as the central transfer point for five bus routes in the area. The change was part of OmniRide’s western service overhaul that launched Dec. 9. Previously, the local transfer hub was at Manassas Mall.
The county, rather than the city of Manassas, is leading the project because the bus shelters would sit just outside city limits, although the Manassas City Council expressed support in a resolution last month.
“We’re just trying to make [transit] more attractive and more accessible to the local area, and we’re trying to provide a sense of place at this location,” Belita said. “We want to support transit by helping out the riders.”
In addition to five bus shelters, the grant would fund the construction of sidewalks on Mosby Street, street lights and a raised crosswalk across Mosby from the bus hub to the courthouse parking lot.
Waiting for the bus at the courthouse on a recent Monday, Tiana Bruce said she takes OmniRide to class at Northern Virginia Community College’s Manassas campus twice a week. Shelters, she said, would be the biggest benefit, protecting riders from the elements.
“I’ve ridden the bus all wet,” she said. “If you don’t want to miss the bus there isn’t much you can do except stand out in the rain.”
But the other work will also help riders and other pedestrians using Mosby Street, said OmniRide Executive Director Bob Schneider.
“Our customers come to us on foot or on bike, one way or another. And we want to have good connections for our neighbors in Prince William County and Manassas,” he said. “It’s going ahead and making that hub a more permanent fixture.”
Belita said the Commuter Choice grant is generally quite competitive, with roughly $10 million to $15 million in funding available each year. But the county application’s relatively small price tag should make it attractive to the commission, according to Belita.
Projects will be selected in the spring, and funds will be available in June.
Belita said that if the grant comes through, the county and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), which operates OmniRide, will begin the formal design and engineering work. From there, the county hopes to complete the project by fall 2022.
“With all the routes going through the area now, it’s inducing additional foot traffic at the location,” Belita said. “We want to get ahead of the game as it becomes more popular and more utilized.”